Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin
Intercosma SA and Reynald Katz Perfumes

[Indexed as: Veuve Clocquot v. Intercosma et al.]
[Indexed as: et al.]

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
Administrative Panel Decision

Case No. D2000-0469
Commenced: 22 May 2000
Judgement: 19 July 2000

Presiding Panelist:  François Dessemontet

 Domain name – Domain name dispute resolution – World famous mark – Confusion by public – Dilution of trademark – No rights or legitimate interests – Bad faith registration – No evidence of good faith use – Pattern of behaviour – Transfer of domain name – Redirection of traffic.

Complainant owns trademark for “VEUVE CLICQUOT” and sells champagne under this trademark worldwide.  The domain names in question were transferred from Respondent Reynald Katz to Respondent Intercosma shortly after Complainant contacted Respondent Reynald Katz.  Complainant asks for transfer of domain names in dispute to their possession. Respondent provided no response to proceedings at hand.

Held, Names Transferred to Complainant.

The domain names in dispute are identical to Complainant’s registered trademark.  The trademark is well known throughout the world.   Having another party use the trademark would create confusion with Complainant’s business and activities. This would dilute the trademark. The only difference between the trademark and the disputed domain names is the top level domain, which is not relevant. 
Respondents have not put forth any evidence of any rights or legitimate interests that they would have in the domain names in question. 
The domain names were registered in bad faith.  There is no evidence that Respondent have taken any steps to use the domain names in good faith. Furthermore, there is evidence that Respondent Intercosma has engaged in a pattern of registering domain names of other well-known trademarks for champagne.  Also, Respondent’s transfer of the domain names to Respondent Intercosma, was an attempt to evade American jurisdiction. Respondent Intercosma is based in Panama, but does not seem to have any business activity in Panama or elsewhere.  Finally, because the website created by Respondent  is promoting something other than Complainant’s champagne products, Respondent is redirecting traffic to its own web site and this is diminishing Complainant’s trademark.

Policies referred to

Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, adopted August 26, 1999

Paris Convention for the protection of Industrial Property and Art

Agreement on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property

Panel Decision referred to

Dessemontet, Panelist: -

1. The Parties
The complainant is Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Maison Fondée en 1772, 12 rue du Temple, 51100 Reims, FRANCE. The respondents are Intercosma S.A., PO Box 5515 64, Panama, PANAMA and Reynald Katz Perfumes, 13499 Biscayne Blvd, suite M6 Miami FL 33181, USA.

2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The domain names in issue here are:
The registrar is Network Solutions, Inc.

3. Procedural History
The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center ( "the Center" ) received the complaint on May 22, 2000. The registrar verification request was sent on May 24, 2000 and the registrar’s response was received on May 30, 2000. The Center verified that the complaint satisfied the formal requirements on June 7, 2000. The notification of complaint was transmitted on June 8, 2000 and the notification of the respondent’s default on June 30, 2000. 

4. Factual Backgrounds 
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin is the owner of Veuve Clicquot name and trademark. The complainant’s champagnes are currently sold in more than 120 countries worldwide. The complainant has registered and used trade names and trademarks consisting of the term Veuve Clicquot in various forms and combinations throughout its history, starting from 1772.
Shortly after the complainant wrote to REYNALD KATZ, INC., Reynald Katz Perfumes transferred the domain name to respondent INTERCOSMA, an entity with an address in Panama. 

5. The Parties’ Contentions
A. The Complaint
The grounds for the complaint are:
(1) The domain names are identical and confusingly similar to the complainant’s marks.
(2) The respondents have no legitimate interest in the domain name as there is no relationship between the respondents and complainant that would give rise to any license, permission or other rights by which the respondents could use any domain name incorporating the Veuve Clicquot mark. The Respondents could not pretend that the domain names are nicknames or that they have in any other way a legitimate interest.
(3) The respondents are using the domain names in bad faith as they have registered the domain names primarily for the purpose of selling the domain names or to misappropriate the goodwill associated with the complainant’s mark. This is further confirmed by the fact of experience that such parties have a pattern of registering domain names based on well-known, third party trademarks. For example, Intercosma (alias RKC.NET ) has registered LOUISRODERER.NET, another well-known champagne mark.
The complainant requests that the domain names be transferred to him or that they be cancelled so that he can register them.
B. The Response 
The respondents were in default.

6. Discussion and Findings 
A. Identical or Confusing Domain Name
The complainant owns the name and trademark Veuve Clicquot. 
This mark and name is world famous and well known within the meaning of Art. 6 bis of the Paris Convention for the protection of Industrial Property and Art. 16 para. 2 of the Agreement on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property.
As such, any use by a person other than the complainant of that trademark, trade name or domain name is likely to raise confusion in the public between the complainant’s enterprise and activities and this other person’s business. A dilution of the well-known trademark would certainly occur.
There is no difference between the trademark Veuve Clicquot and the domain names in issue, but for the top level domain name, which is irrelevant.
The panel therefore finds that the domain names of the respondents have characteristic elements identical to the trademark and name of the complainant and that the domain names are confusingly similar to those.
B. Respondent’s Right or Legitimate Interest in the Domain Names
The respondents in default in the present proceeding have not provided evidence of any circumstance giving rise to a right or legitimate interest in the domain name.
C. Domain Name Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The respondent in default have not provided any evidence that the activity they develop in connection with the domains is such that they are using the domain names in good faith. On the contrary, the fact that RKC.NET has registered the domain names using the name of another well-known brand of champagne, i.e. LOUISRODERER.NET, leads to believe that the names have been registered in bad faith and used in bad faith by the respondents. 
The panel also notes that the respondents have never replied or acknowledged messages sent to them by the complainant and possibly tried to escape American jurisdiction by transferring the domain name to INTERCOSMA, a Panama based company. According to the complainant, which relied on a report by a private investigator, this company is not listed in the phone book in Panama, and does not appear to have any business activity in Panama City nor in the Colon Free Trade Zone.
Further, the fact that the web site at VEUVECLICQUOT.COM is dedicated to fashion, gourmet food and fragrances indicates that the respondents are diluting the famous trademark by diverting web traffic to its own web site for profit.

7. Decision
In the light of the foregoing, the panel decides that the domain names registered by the respondents are confusingly similar to the corresponding trademark of the complainant, that the respondents have no legitimate interest in respect of those domain names and that the domain names at issue have been registered and are being used in bad faith by the respondents.
Accordingly, pursuant to paragraph 4(i) of the Policy, the Domain Names shall be transferred to the Complainant. 

Domain Names Transferred