Comme Des Garcons, Ltd. v. Asif Ali / Kaamy Group
Claim Number: FA2110001968290
Complainant is Comme Des Garcons, Ltd. (“Complainant”), represented by Kenneth Sussmane of McCue Sussmane Zapfel & Cohen P.C., New York, USA. Respondent is Asif Ali / Kaamy Group (“Respondent”), Pakistan.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <commedesgarconshop.com>, registered with NameCheap, Inc..
The undersigned certifies that he has acted independently and impartially and to the best of his knowledge has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding.
Richard Hill as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the Forum electronically on October 8, 2021; the Forum received payment on October 8, 2021.
On October 8, 2021, NameCheap, Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <commedesgarconshop.com> domain name is registered with NameCheap, Inc. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. NameCheap, Inc. has verified that Respondent is bound by the NameCheap, Inc. registration agreement and has thereby agreed to resolve domain disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”).
On October 13, 2021, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint, setting a deadline of November 2, 2021 by which Respondent could file a Response to the Complaint, via e-mail to all entities and persons listed on Respondent’s registration as technical, administrative, and billing contacts, and to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also on October 13, 2021, the Written Notice of the Complaint, notifying Respondent of the e-mail addresses served and the deadline for a Response, was transmitted to Respondent via post and fax, to all entities and persons listed on Respondent’s registration as technical, administrative and billing contacts.
Having received no response from Respondent, the Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default. Respondent did however send an email to the Forum, see below.
On November 5, 2021, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed Richard Hill as Panelist.
Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the "Panel") finds that the Forum has discharged its responsibility under Paragraph 2(a) of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Rules") "to employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice to Respondent" through submission of Electronic and Written Notices, as defined in Rule 1 and Rule 2. Therefore, the Panel may issue its decision based on the documents submitted and in accordance with the ICANN Policy, ICANN Rules, the Forum's Supplemental Rules and any rules and principles of law that the Panel deems applicable, without the benefit of any response from Respondent.
Complainant requests that the domain name be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.
PRELIMINARY ISSUE: MULTIPLE COMPLAINANTS
Paragraph 3(a) of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Rules”) provides that “[a]ny person or entity may initiate an administrative proceeding by submitting a complaint.” The Forum’s Supplemental Rule 1(e) defines “The Party Initiating a Complaint Concerning a Domain Name Registration” as a “single person or entity claiming to have rights in the domain name, or multiple persons or entities who have a sufficient nexus who can each claim to have rights to all domain names listed in the Complaint.”
There are two Complainants in this matter: Comme Des Garcons, Ltd. and Comme Des Garcons Co., Ltd.. Complainant alleges that the two entities are closely related.
Previous panels have interpreted the Forum’s Supplemental Rule 1(e) to allow multiple parties to proceed as one party where they can show a sufficient link to each other. For example, in Vancouver Org. Comm. for the 2010 Olympic and Paralymic Games & Int’l Olympic Comm. v. Malik, FA 666119 (Forum May 12, 2006), the panel stated:
It has been accepted that it is permissible for two complainants to submit a single complaint if they can demonstrate a link between the two entities such as a relationship involving a license, a partnership or an affiliation that would establish the reason for the parties bringing the complaint as one entity.
In Tasty Baking, Co. & Tastykake Invs., Inc. v. Quality Hosting, FA 208854 (Forum Dec. 28, 2003), the panel treated the two complainants as a single entity where both parties held rights in trademarks contained within the disputed domain names. Likewise, in Am. Family Health Srvs. Group, LLC v. Logan, FA 220049 (Forum Feb. 6, 2004), the panel found a sufficient link between the complainants where there was a license between the parties regarding use of the TOUGHLOVE mark.
The Panel finds that the evidence in the Complaint is sufficient to establish a sufficient nexus or link between the Complainants, and thus it will treat them as a single entity in this proceeding.
Complainant states that it is a world-renowned fashion brand. Complainant has rights in the COMME DES GARCONS mark based upon its registration in the United in 1984. The mark is registered elsewhere around the world.
Complainant alleges that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to its COMME DES GARCONS mark because it incorporates the mark in its entirety, merely adding the generic term “shop” and the “.com” generic top-level domain (“gTLD”).
According to Complainant, Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name. Additionally, Respondent doesn’t use the disputed domain for any bona fide offering of goods or services or legitimate noncommercial or fair use. Instead, the resolving website offers for sale counterfeit versions of Complainant’s products, displaying Complainant’s mark and one of its well-known logos.
Further, says Complainant, Respondent registered and uses the disputed domain name in bad faith. Respondent diverts Internet traffic to its own website to benefit commercially from selling counterfeit goods and defrauding customers.
Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding. It its email to the Forum, Respondent states: “Hi, I want to discuss this case with you.”
Complainant has rights in the mark COMME DES GARCONS and uses it to market fashion items. The mark was registered in 1984.
Complainant has not licensed or otherwise authorized Respondent to use its mark.
The disputed domain name was registered in 2021.
The resolving website offers counterfeit versions of Complainant’s products; it displays Complainant’s mark and logo.
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs this Panel to "decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable."
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred:
(1) the domain name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(2) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
In view of Respondent's failure to submit a response, the Panel shall decide this administrative proceeding on the basis of Complainant's undisputed representations pursuant to paragraphs 5(f), 14(a) and 15(a) of the Rules and draw such inferences it considers appropriate pursuant to paragraph 14(b) of the Rules. The Panel is entitled to accept all reasonable allegations set forth in a complaint; however, the Panel may deny relief where a complaint contains mere conclusory or unsubstantiated arguments. See WIPO Jurisprudential Overview 3.0 at ¶ 4.3; see also eGalaxy Multimedia Inc. v. ON HOLD By Owner Ready To Expire, FA 157287 (Forum June 26, 2003) (“Because Complainant did not produce clear evidence to support its subjective allegations [. . .] the Panel finds it appropriate to dismiss the Complaint”).
The disputed domain name incorporates Complainant’s COMME DES GARCONS mark in its entirety and merely adds the generic term “shop” and the “.com” gTLD. Addition of a generic term and a gTLD to a mark is generally insufficient to negate confusing similarity under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Morgan Stanley v. Eugene Sykorsky / private person, FA 1651901 (Forum Jan. 19, 2016) (concluding that the addition of a generic term and top level domain to a trademark is inconsequential under a Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) analysis.). Therefore, the Panel finds that the <commedesgarconshop.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s COMME DES GACONS mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).
Complainant has not licensed or otherwise authorized Respondent to use its mark. Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name: WHOIS information can be used to show that a respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See H-D U.S.A., LLC, v. ilyas Aslan / uok / Domain Admin ContactID 5645550 / FBS INC / Whoisprotection biz, FA 1785313 (Forum June 25, 2018) (“The publicly available WHOIS information identifies Respondent as ‘Ilyas Aslan’ and so there is no prima facie evidence that Respondent might be commonly known by either of the [<harleybot.bid> and <harleybot.com>] domain names.”). Here, the WHOIS information of record lists “Asif Ali / Kaamy Group” as the registrant. Thus, the Panel finds that Respondent is not commonly known by the domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii).
The resolving website offers for sale counterfeit versions of Complainant’s products, displaying Complainant’s mark and one of its logos. Use of a disputed domain name to offer unauthorized or counterfeit versions of a complainant’s products is not a bona fide offering of goods or services pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) or a noncommercial or fair use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See Wolverine World Wide, Inc. v. Fergus Knox, FA 1627751 (Forum Aug. 19, 2015) (finding no bona fide offering of goods or legitimate noncommercial or fair use existed where Respondent used the resolving website to sell products branded with Complainant’s MERRELL mark, and were either counterfeit products or legitimate products of Complainant being resold without authorization). Thus, the Panel finds that Respondent does not use the disputed domain name to make a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). And the Panel finds that Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Respondent has not presented any plausible explanation for its use of Complainant’s mark. In accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, the Panel shall draw such inferences from Respondent’s failure to reply as it considers appropriate. Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent did not have a legitimate use in mind when registering the disputed domain name.
Indeed, as already noted, the Resolving website offers for sale counterfeit versions of Complainant’s products. Use of a disputed domain name to offer unauthorized or counterfeit versions of a complainant’s products for sale may evidence bad faith disruption of business per Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii) and attraction for commercial gain per Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Guess? IP Holding L.P. and Guess?, Inc. v. Linan / linanbangongshi and hu sugor / sugorguoguo, FA1410001587466 (Forum Dec. 13, 2014) (“The Panel finds that Respondent’s use of the disputed domain names to compete with Complainant by offering counterfeit products and thereby misdirecting Internet users constitutes disruption to Complainant’s business which demonstrates bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii).”) see also H-D Michigan, LLC v. Ross, FA 1250712 (Forum Apr. 23, 2009) (determining that the respondent’s selling of counterfeit products creates the likelihood of confusion as to the complainant’s affiliation with the disputed domain name and allows the respondent to profit from that confusion and thus demonstrates bad faith per Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv)). Therefore, the Panel finds bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶¶ 4(b)(iii) and/or (iv).
Further, Respondent registered the disputed domain name with actual knowledge of Complainant’s mark: the resolving website displays Complainant’s products, with Complainant’s mark and logo. While constructive notice is insufficient to demonstrate bad faith, actual knowledge of a complainant’s rights in a mark prior to registration may be evidence of bad faith per Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii). See Custom Modular Direct LLC v. Custom Modular Homes Inc., FA 1140580 (Forum Apr. 8, 2008) (“There is no place for constructive notice under the Policy.”); see also Orbitz Worldwide, LLC v. Domain Librarian, FA 1535826 (Forum Feb. 6, 2014) (“The Panel notes that although the UDRP does not recognize ‘constructive notice’ as sufficient grounds for finding Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii) bad faith, the Panel here finds actual knowledge through the name used for the domain and the use made of it.”); see also Univision Comm'cns Inc. v. Norte, FA 1000079 (Forum Aug. 16, 2007) (rejecting the respondent's contention that it did not register the disputed domain name in bad faith since the panel found that the respondent had knowledge of the complainant's rights in the UNIVISION mark when registering the disputed domain name). The Panel finds that Respondent had actual knowledge of Complainant’s rights in the mark prior to Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name and that this constitutes bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii).
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <commedesgarconshop.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Richard Hill, Panelist
Dated: November 5, 2021
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