The Complainant is Accor of Issy-Les-Moulineaux, France; So Luxury HMC of Issy-Les-Moulineaux, France, represented by Dreyfus & associés, France.
The Respondent is Access Japan of Tokyo, Japan.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <sofitel-asia.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with GMO Internet, Inc. d/b/a Discount-Domain.com and Onamae.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed in English with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the“Center”) on December 11, 2018. On December 11, 2018, the Center transmitted by email tothe Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On December 12, 2018, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. On December 13, 2018, the Center sent an email in English and Japanese to the Parties regarding the language of the proceeding. The Complainant requested that English be the language of the proceeding on December 14, 2018. The Respondent did not comment on the language of the proceeding by the specified due date.
The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “UDRP”), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Rules”), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Supplemental Rules”).
In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondent in English and Japanese of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on December 19, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was January 8, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 9, 2019.
The Center appointed Gabriela Paiva Hantkeas the sole panelist in this matter on January 24, 2019. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with the Rules, paragraph 7.The Panel, in view of the facts of the case previously described, will render this decision in English.
4. Factual Background
Accor is a leading global hotel operator founded in 1967 and SoLuxury HMC is its subsidiary. Their registered offices are located at France. Accor is a world leader in economic and mid-scale hotels and a major player in upscale and luxury hospitality services, for more than 45 years. The group includes notable hotel chains such as Sofitel, Raffles, Onefinestay, Fairmont, Mgallery, Pullman, Swissotel, Grand Mercure, Novotel, Mama Shelter, Mercure and Ibis. In Japan, Accor has around 11 hotels which offer more than 2,800 rooms.
The Complainant is the owner of the SOFITEL trademarks, including the international registration no. 863332 registered on August 26, 2005.
The Respondent, Access Japan, appears to be a company located at Japan.
The Domain Name <sofitel-asia.com> was registered on February 21, 2017. The Domain Name resolves to a website in Japanese promoting recruitment services in the hairdressing sector.
The Complainant is the owner of SOFITEL trademark in many countries of the world including France, the country where the Complainant´s company is registered. The Complainant trademark is registered in several classes as class 35, 36, 39, 43， and 44, all related to hotel services. Also the Complainant operates hotels in Japan as the IBIS chain.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
6.1 Language of Proceedings
The Registrar confirmed in this case that the language of the proceeding was Japanese. The Complaint was filed in English and the Complainant requested that English be the language of the proceeding. Having received the Notification of the Complaint in both Japanese and English, the Respondent has not expressed any interests in responding to it or participating in any other way. Therefore the Panel considers that requiring the Complainant to translate would create an undue burden and delay. The Panel determines in accordance with paragraph 11(a) of the Rules that the language of the proceeding is English.
6.2 Substantive Issues
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant is the owner of SOFITEL trademark in many jurisdictions of the world (including Japan, the country where the Respondent is located).
The Domain Name <sofitel-asia.com> includes the Complainant’s SOFITEL trademark plus a hyphen and the word “asia”, elements that do not serve to distinguish the Domain Name and the trademark SOFITEL. The word “asia” is a geographical word which does not avoid the confusing similarity between the Domain Name and the Complainant’s trademarks. See sections 1.7 and 1.8 of WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).
In summary, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the mark owned by the Complainant, so the Complainant has therefore satisfied the first element of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has shown ownership of the SOFITEL trademarks, registration of domain name <sofitel.com> including such mark and identification by the public by the trademark SOFITEL. The Complainant claims that it is not affiliated with the Respondent, it has not authorized the Respondent to use the trademark SOFITEL, and the Respondent is not commonly known by the name Sofitel. The Respondent did not file any response, so it did not show any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.
In view of the above, the Panel finds that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name, and that the Complainant has therefore satisfied the second element of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant has provided screen prints of the website under the domain name <sofitel.com> showing the use of its trademark SOFITEL in the hotel industry. The Complainant has also provided screen prints of the website under the Domain Name <sofitel-asia.com>, and according to these evidences the Respondent is using the Domain name to promote recruitment services in the hairdressing sector and beauty salon. The Respondent is thus using the Domain Name to attract Internet uses to its website by creating a likelihood of confusing with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s website.
Under these facts the Panel concludes that the Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith and finds therefore that the Complainant satisfied the third element of the Policy.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <sofitel-asia.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Gabriela Paiva Hantke Sole Panelist Date: February 6, 2019
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