Societe Air France v Zembra, Court of Appeal - Nominet UK Dispute Resolution Service, April 23, 2009, [2009] DRS 6642

Resolution Date:April 23, 2009
Issuing Organization:Nominet UK Dispute Resolution Service
Actores:Societe Air France v Zembra
 
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11839714-11839537-1DISPUTE RESOLUTION SERVICEDRS 06642Decision of Independent ExpertSociété Air FranceandPascal Zembra1. The Parties:Complainant: Société Air FranceCountry: FranceRespondent: Pascal ZembraCountry: Belgium2. The Domain Name(s):airfrance-klm.co.uk and airfranceklm.co.uk3. Procedural History:The Complaint was validated by Nominet on 12 December 2008, and was sent to the Respondent on 17 December 2008. Nominet informed the Respondent that it had until 12 January 2009 to respond to the Complaint.A Response was filed on 12 January and the Complainant was notified on the same day that it had until 19 January to file a Reply. No Reply was filed, and the dispute proceeded to mediation. Mediation was not successful, and on 26 March 2009, the Complainant paid the requisite fee for an Expert Decision.I was thereafter contacted by Nominet and asked to confirm that I was able to provide an Expert Decision. I responded to Nominet confirming that I had no conflict preventing me from providing a decision.The matter was thereafter duly referred to me, Simon Chapman, ("the Expert") for an Expert Decision. 4. Factual BackgroundThe Complainant is the well known airline company that trades as ``AIR FRANCE'', and can trace its origins back to 1933. The company has a substantial number of registered trade marks for ``AIR FRANCE'', and domain names that incorporate the mark. The main website address is . The Complainant is a founder of the ``Skyteam Alliance'' formed in 2002, which incorporates nine other airline companies, including KLM.KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, is another well known airline company. It also has a substantial number of registered trade marks for ``KLM'' and operates a website, the main address for which is .On 29 September 2003 (although the Respondent believes the correct date to have been 30 September) Air France and KLM announced that they were to merge. They registered a number of domain names incorporating both of their marks, for example.The Respondent identifies himself as a ``director in a global industrial company'', with experience of a ``giant merger''. He has no formal connection with KLM or Air France. He registered the Domain Names on 30 September 2003, when he became aware of the above mentioned announcement of the merger between Air France and KLM, with the intention of operating a `blog' to follow the evolution of the merger. The blog was operational two days after the domains were registered and has been operational ever since, save for a period when the Respondent's server was in transit.The site included the following text, which the Respondent included to avoid any possible confusion -``Airfrance-KLM.co.uk, a site about the merger This web site is a compilation of on-line information resources as well as technical, financial and social impact analysis related to the creation of the biggest airline company in the world. Its goal is to help us better understand the mechanisms that led to one more consolidation in the world of industrial giants. This web site is maintained during his free time by a person independent from Air France and from KLM. For official...

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