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Choice Hotels International, Inc. and Choice Hotels Canada Inc. v. Daniel Cox, British Columbia International Commercial Arbitration Centre, Case No. 00061 - by Eric Macramalla

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Domain Name: www.choice-hotels.ca
OutCome: Transfer Granted
Response Filed: No
Panellist: W.A. Derry Millar (Chair), David Wotherspoon, Pierre-Emmanuel Moyse

The Complainants were the owners of the registered CHOICE HOTELS and CHOICE HOTELS INTERNATIONAL trade-marks. The Registrant and the Complainants are competitors as the Registrant earned fees by directing Internet users to the websites of the direct competitors of the Complainants.

The Registrant registered the domain name choice-hotels.ca on March 4, 2006 and pointed it to a website which resolves to a customized internet portal hosted by DomainSponsor.com. The disputed domain name included numerous lodging and hospitality-related sponsored links resolving to websites promoting the services of competitors and the Complainants' own services.

Under the CIRA Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("Policy"), a successful Complainant must establish that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar with a mark in which it had rights, that the name was registered in bad faith and that the Registrant does not have a legitimate interest in the domain name.

Although the Registrant did not file a Response to the Complaint, the Complainants did not elect to convert from a panel of three to a single arbitrator, as it was entitled under CIRA Domain Name Dispute Resolution Rules ("Rules"), Rule 6.5.

On the issue of confusion, the Panel held that the Complainants had rights in the CHOICE HOTELS, CHOICE HOTELS INTERNATIONAL, and CHOICE HOTEL trade-marks. The Panel found that a person knowing the Complainants' Mark and having an imperfect recollection of them would likely mistake the disputed domain name for the Complainants' Marks based upon the appearance, sound, or ideas suggested by the Mark.

The Panel also held that the domain name had been registered in bad faith. In particular, the Panel found that the domain name was registered to disrupt the business of the Complainants by directing Internet users seeking the Complainant's hotels to their competitors. This finding was supported by evidence showing the registration of at least 111 dot-ca domain names composed, or containing, third party marks, or intentional misspellings of same, by the Registrant.

Finally, the Panel held that the Registrant did not have any legitimate interest in the domain name as per paragraph 3.6 of the Policy

The Panel ordered the domain name choice-hotels.ca transferred to the Complainants as per paragraph 4.3 of the Policy.

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