bmẉ.com (BMW), e-lẹclerc.com (E. Leclerc), порше.com (Porsche), קוקהקולה.com (Coca-Cola) et al.: Brief Overview of Internationalized Domain Names in WIPO UDRPs

BMW had to initiate a UDRP proceeding to get the domain name bmẉ.com [xn--bm-e3s.com], therefore containing the letter “w” with a diacritic dot. The respondent in the UDRP proceedings did not participate, and the decision appears relatively ordinary. However, it contains a reminder on an obvious but yet necessary legal point:
“Previous UDRP panels have considered IDNs and their Punycode translation to be equivalent. Regarding the use of the non-ASCII character “ẉ” to replace the ASCII letter “w”, the Panel notes that it is now well established that the replacement of an ASCII letter with a non-ASCII character does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the domain name and the trademark (see, e.g., Société Air France v. WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc. / Irfan Khan, Kamran Khan, WIPO Case No. D2018-0393; WhatsApp Inc. v. Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp., WIPO Case No. D2018‑1654).” (WIPO, D2018-2016, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG v. Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp., October 28, 2018).

More recently, the Association des Centres Distributeurs E. Leclerc had to engage in a UDRP proceeding to obtain the transfer of the domain name e-lẹclerc.com, also composed of an “e” formed with a diacritic dot (D2018-2278, Association des Centres Distributeurs E. Leclerc v. Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp., November 19, 2018). The domain name was transferred after the panelist adopted the same reasoning:

“The disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s registered mark except that it replaces the letter “e” in the Complainant’s mark with the non-ASCII character “ẹ” (i.e. an “e” with an underdot) and includes a hyphen instead of a blank space between “e” and “leclerc”.

The Panel finds it likely that many Internet users, on seeing the disputed domain name <e-lẹclerc.com>, would disregard the underdot and would find the disputed domain name confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark E LECLERC”.
The question of the existence of the trademark in a form derived from its translation or transliteration may be more perilous. It had been a major issue in WIPO, D2011-0100, Dr. Ing, h.c. F. Porsche AG, ca. Moniker Privacy Services / Sergey Korshunov, April 8, 2011, regarding the domain name порше.com, transliteration of the mark “Porsche” in Cyrillic, while the company Porsche had not registered its trademark in this language. In spite of this, the panelist considered, given the reputation of the brand, that the domain name had to be transferred.
“The Panel nevertheless finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s well-known mark. The reason for this is based on first principles. Under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy, the issue is whether there is a likelihood of confusion in the mind of Internet users. As noted by the panel in Mejeriforeningen Danish Dairy Board v. Cykon Technology Limited, WIPO Case No. D2010-0776, the question “is simply whether the alphanumeric string comprising the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s mark or sufficiently approximates it, visually or phonetically, so that the disputed domain name on its face is “confusingly similar” to the Complainant’s mark. Initial confusion by an Internet user when seeing or typing the disputed domain name is the focus of paragraph 4(a)(i).”
In this case, the disputed domain name is not visually similar or identical to the Complainant’s mark. The Complainant claims that the disputed domain name is phonetically similar to its mark. However, in the Panel’s view, it does not follow from the Complainant’s evidence that the disputed domain name transcribes the sound of its mark in Cyrillic. Is it, for example, phonetically similar in Russian to the way its mark would sound in German or English? The Complainant does not say. Regardless, the Complainant provided evidence that the disputed domain name is a transliteration of its PORSCHE mark. The Complainant’s mark is very well-known, and this is recognized in a series of prior decisions under the Policy in the Complainant’s favor (including those cited above). The number of prior cases under the Policy involving the Complainant’s mark is itself an indication that the Complainant is an attractive target for cybersquatters.
The fame of the Complainant’s mark, combined with its transliteration in the disputed domain name, suggests to the Panel that the domain name would create confusion in the minds of Internet users that might be searching for the Complainant. There was no evidence in this case that, represented in Cyrillic, the disputed domain name has any association other than with the Complainant’s mark. As such, the Panel has inferred that an ordinary Internet user reading the domain name in Cyrillic, would be likely to associate it with the Complainant’s mark. The circumstances of this case therefore indicate that Internet users would be confused about the relationship between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s mark. Ultimately, the focus of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy relates to confusion over the association of the disputed domain name with the Complainant’s mark. Phonetic or visual similarity may be factual indicators of such confusion. There may be other facts which suggest a likelihood of confusion. The Panel considers that the relevant facts of this case are suggestive of such confusion.”
In other words, Porsche succeeded for the sole reason that its trademark is well-known. That being said, this issued should be considered with caution. There may be a need to register the domain names corresponding to the translation or transliteration of the trademark into writing systems that can be strategic for the value or development of the brand.
The following sample of decisions is taken from the database of the Arbitration and Mediation Center of the World Intellectual Property Organization. The panelists most often qualified the case as cybersquatting and ordered the transfer of domain names. The rare cases of rejection find explanation in the generic or descriptive character of the trademark, which is naturally unable to prohibit the registration of the domain name.
DecisionDomain NameTrademark(s)Outcome
WIPO, D2011-0423, Crédit Agricole S.A. contre Samir Laroussi, s l, ID:ovh4d05999cmkxv, 17 mai 2011crédit-agricole.orgCrédit AgricoleTransfer
WIPO, DES2018-0023, Ubiquiti Networks, Inc. c. Josep Campas, 6 de septiembre de 2018ubiquiti-españa.esubiquitiTransfer
WIPO, D2000 -1791, Sankyo Co., Ltd. v. Zhu Jiajun, March 23, 2001三共 .com 三共Transfer
WIPO, D2001-0809, Kværner ASA v. Tele og Media Consult AS, September 12, 2001kværner.netKværner Transfer
WIPO, D2002-0023, Åhléns AB v. F. Garmer, April 5, 2002åhlens.comÅhlénsTransfer
WIPO, D2005-0034, Mast-Jägermeister AG v. GlazedDonuts, March 23, 2005Jägermeister.netJägermeister Transfer
WIPO, D2007-0622, Confederation Nationale Du Credit Mutuel v. Equitron, June 25, 2007créditmutuel.netCrédit MutuelTransfer
WIPO, D2008-0140, Monografías.com S.A., Fernando Julian Negro v. Nick Lozikov / Moniker Privacy Services, May 28, 2008monografías.comMonografias.comTransfer
WIPO, D2008-0767, Domisys SAS v. Wachter Consulting Inc., July 10, 2008 matériel.netMateriel.netDenied
WIPO, D2008-1843, The Coca-Cola Company v. Teltrix, January 30, 2009קוקה - קולה .comCoca-Cola, and קוקה - קולהTransfer
WIPO, D2008-1851, The Coca-Cola Company v. ICU Agency, January 30, 2009קוקהקולה .net Coca-Cola, and קוקה - קולהTransfer
WIPO, D2008-1852, The Coca-Cola Company v. Keren, Chen, January 30, 2009  קוקהקולה .com Coca-Cola, and קוקה - קולהHebrew
WIPO, D2009-0540, Cheung Kong (Holdings) Limited and Chueng Kong Property Development Limited v. Netego DotCom, July 29, 2009長江.com長江, and 長江集團Denied, and Reverse Domain Name Hijacking
WIPO, D2010-0444, CELIO France, SAS contre Monsieur Ken Hocini, 4 mai 2010célio.comCélioTransfer
WIPO, D2010-0554, Sanutri AG v. Hello Domain, June 8, 2010céréal.comCéréalDenied
WIPO, D2010-1941, Hürriyet Gazetecilik ve Matbaacılık Anonim Şirketi v. Moniker Privacy Services / Kemal Demircioglu, January 28, 2011hürriyet.com, hürriyetemlak.com, and hürriyetoto.comHurriyetTransfer
WIPO, D2011-0100, Dr. Ing, h.c. F. Porsche AG, v. Moniker Privacy Services / Sergey Korshunov, April 8, 2011порше.comPorscheTransfer
WIPO, D2012-1064, Marco Rafael Sanfilippo v. Estudio Indigo, July 25, 2012cabañas.comcabañas.com, and www.cabanias.comDenied
WIPO, D2012-1135, Aktiebolaget Electrolux v. Hungary, August 27, 2012electrolux-hűtőgép.info, and electrolux-hűtőszekrény.infoElectroluxTransfer
WIPO, D2013-0710, L’Oréal v. Anonymous Corp, Ken, May 31, 2013elsève.comElsèveTransfer
WIPO, D2013-1183, Facebook, Inc. v. Andre Schneider / DomCollect AG, September 10, 2013fäcebook.orgFacebookTransfer
WIPO, D2013-2244, Doğan Internet Yayinciliği Ve Yatirim Anonim Şirketi v. Moniker Privacy Services / H A Lempka - Alpha Domains, February 25, 2014nesıne.comNesineTransfer
WIPO, D2015-0406, WGCZ S.R.O. v. Kadu Norfox, April 21, 2015xvídeos.netXvideosTransfer
WIPO, D2015-0809, Saltside Technologies AB v. Jobair Islam, Enter Group, June 25, 2015বিক্রয় .com BikroyTransfer
WIPO, D2015-1636, Crédit Mutuel Arkea v. Lawrence Thompson, November 12, 2015crédit-mutuel-bretagne.comCrédit Mutuel de BretagneTransfer
WIPO, D2015-1638, Fırat Plastik Kauçuk, San. ve Tic. A.Ş. v. Fırat Soğancı, SoMedia, November 16, 2015fırat.comFıratDenied
WIPO, D2016-2368, Altınkaynak Kuyumculuk ve Mücevherat A.Ş. v. Artem Rakhno, January 5, 2017altınkaynak.comAltınkaynak Transfer
WIPO, D2017-1150, Splunk Inc. v. Super Privacy Service c/o Dynadot, August 13, 2017spłunk.comSplunkTransfer
WIPO, D2017-1565, Sarl Impulseo v. IDNenterprises, October 24, 2017physiothérapie.comPhysiothérapie.comDenied
WIPO, D2017-2211, Inter Ikea Systems B.V. v. Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp., January 17, 2018ıĸea.comIkeaTransfer
WIPO, D2017-2233, AB Electrolux v. Mostafa Faheem, January 9, 2018صيانة - ايديال - زانوسى .comZanussiTransfer
WIPO, D2018-0393, Société Air France v. WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc. / Irfan Khan, Kamran Khan, May 8, 2018ạirfrance.com airfrạnce.com Air FranceTransfer
WIPO, D2018-0952, Multi Media, LLC v. One and One Private Registration, 1&1 Internet, Inc. / Papadad Manaloto, June 18, 2018chàturbate.comChaturbateTransfer
WIPO, D2018-1220, Société Air France v. Domain Administrator, China Capital, July 31, 2018airfṛance.comAir FranceTransfer
WIPO, D2018-1286, EOS Data Analytics, Inc. v. WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc. / Mich Sham / lank bo, kingsoft / jesus mail, August 3, 2018 eoṣ.com, eọs.com, and ẹos.comEOSTransfer
WIPO, D2018-1367, Etihad Airways v. Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp, August 15, 2018eṭihad.comEtihadTransfer
WIPO, D2018-1654, WhatsApp Inc. v. Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp., September 24, 2018ɯhatsapp.com, and whɑtsɑpp.comWhatsappTransfer
WIPO, D2018-2016, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG v. Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp., October 28, 2018bmẉ.com BMWTransfer
WIPO, DCH2004-0012, Feldschlösschen Getränke Holding AG v. John De Souza, August 31, 2004 rhäzünser.chRhäzünserTransfer
WIPO, DTV2009-0008, Confédération Nationale Du Crédit Mutuel v. Reinhard Herrmann, November 18, 2009créditmutuel.tvCrédit MutuelTransfer
WIPO, D2018-2278, Association des Centres Distributeurs E. Leclerc v. Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp., November 19, 2018e-lẹclerc.comE LeclercTransfer

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