L’TUR Tourismus AG v. Ufuk Altug
Case No. D2015-1574
1. The Parties
The Complainant is L’TUR Tourismus AG of Baden-Baden, Germany represented by HK2 Rechtsanwälte, Germany.
The Respondent is Ufuk Altug of Kriens, Switzerland.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name is registered with united-domains AG (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 3, 2015 in English. On September 3, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 4, 2015, 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.
The Registrar disclosed German as the language of the registration agreement. On September 7, 2015, the Complainant submitted a request to proceed in English. No referring submission from the Respondent was received. The Center continued the administrative proceeding in English and German.
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 of the Complaint in English and German, and the proceeding commenced on September 14, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 4, 2015. The Respondent submitted an informal communication on September 12, 2015 which was later resent on September 18, 2015. No formal response was received.
The Center appointed WiIliam A. Van Caenegem as the sole panelist in this matter on October 13, 2015. 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.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is the owner of a considerable number of national and international trademark registrations for the word mark L’TUR, inter alia Community Trade Mark (CTM) No 003739851 registered on March 30, 2004 for classes 12, 16, 24, 25, 28, 35, 38, 39. 41, 42, 43.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant asserts that it is a major travel company in Germany with over 150 shops, and a presence also in Switzerland, Austria and France. It operates a number of websites on which its services are made available in 15 different languages and thus across the European Union. Inter alia, it promotes its services via the website , which redirects to . “Reisen” is the German word for travel, the Complainant points out.
The Complainant further asserts that the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s L’TUR trademark. The Complainant submits that the Top-Level Domain ‘reisen’ should be ignored for the purpose of comparison. Further, the domain name registration system does not allow for apostrophes. In the alternative the Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark. The trademark concerned is included in its entirety with the only difference lying in the apostrophe. Further the Top-Level Domain refers to the word “travel” in German, and thus further reinforces the suggestion of a connection between the disputed domain name and the Complainant. Confusing similarity is further reinforced according to the Complainant by the fact that it has operated the website at “www.ltur.travel” for many years.
Further the Complainant asserts that there has been no use or demonstrable preparations for use of the disputed domain name. All that appears at the website to which it resolves is an offer to sell the domain name. This does not amount to a bona fide offering of goods or services, according to the Complainant. Nor is the Respondent known by the name “l’tur” or is there any indication of a noncommercial or fair use of the domain name concerned.
Further the Complainant asserts that the registration was in bad faith as the offering for sale of a domain name identical to a distinctive trademark can only be such. According to the Complainant it is inconceivable that the Respondent coincidentally arrived at the disputed domain name. The Complainant’s trademark is distinctive and has a considerable reputation, and the generic word “reisen” indicates that the Respondent is well aware of the business the Complainant is in. Even passive holding of a disputed domain name identical to a “famous” trademark, so the Complainant asserts, amounts to bad faith registration and use.
The Respondent did not formally reply to the Complainant’s contentions. In its communication of September 12, 2015 the Respondent asked the Complainant to make an offer for the disputed domain name.
6. Discussion and Findings
The Complainant has requested that the proceedings be conducted in English and hence for the decision to be rendered in that language. Despite having the opportunity to do so the Respondent has not replied to this request, notwithstanding the fact that the registration agreement appears to have been in German. The Respondent has chosen not to file a formal Response, his only correspondence being a request addressed to the Complainant asking the Complainant to make an offer for the disputed domain name.. In the circumstances the Panel has decided to conduct the proceeding in English. In the absence of a response either in relation to the question of the language of the proceedings or as a formal reply to the Complaint, no disadvantage accrues to the Respondent, since all correspondence from the Center with the Respondent was forwarded in both German and English.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name is effectively identical to the Complainant’s L’TUR trademark. There is no scope to accommodate the apostrophe in the relevant trademark in a domain name, so the disputed domain name is the closest it can technically be. The generic Top-Level Domain is to be ignored for the purpose of comparison.
Therefore the Panel holds that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s L’TUR trademark.
The Respondent has not been licensed or authorized by the Complainant to use its registered trademark in any way. The Respondent is not known by the term “ltur” or anything resembling it and there is no indication that it conducts a legitimate business under that name or mark. The Respondent has offered the disputed domain name for sale generally and more specifically to the Complainant directly. These activities do not give rise to rights or legitimate interests vesting in the Respondent.
Therefore the Panel holds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant’s trademark L’TUR is highly distinctive and well established in the travel business throughout Europe and in particular in German speaking countries. It is inconceivable that the Respondent was not aware of the Complainant’s trademark at the time of registration, all the more so as the generic Top- Level Domain “reisen” indicates that the Respondent knows of the field of activity of the Complainant. That the disputed domain name was immediately offered for sale to the world at large is also an indication of bad faith registration and use, in particular where no other use was made of the relevant website. In its communication of September 12, 2015 the Respondent asked the Complainant to make an offer for the disputed domain name.
There is nothing to indicate that this is anything other than an example of cybersquatting for financial gain by the sale of a domain name confusingly similar to a distinctive trademark belonging to another party.
Therefore the Panel holds that the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the disputed domain name be transferred to the Complainant.
William A. Van Caenegem
Date: October 27, 2015