January 16, 2006

A domain name consisting of the translation of a trademark can be confusingly similar

Interesting WIPO case (D2005-1085): Complainant (Saint-Exupery estate) owns "Le Petit Prince" in EU, US, and other countries. The translation of "Le Petit Prince" is "The little prince". Respondent registered thelittleprince.com. Is such a domain name confusingly similar to the trademark?
Yes said the panel:
The disputed domain names [sic] do not incorporate Complainant’s mark “Le Petit Prince” but the English translation of Complainant’s trademark “The Little Prince”. The Panel thus finds that there is no phonetic similarity between the disputed domain name and Complainant’s trademark.
However a semantic similarity between a trademark and a domain name can also exist if the trademark and the domain name contain word elements of different languages if a considerable part of the public understands the meaning of the translation. See e.g. Compagnie Generale Des Etablissements Michelin - Michelin & Cie. v. Graeme Foster, WIPO Case No. D2004-0279. The Panel observes that Complainant’s registered trademark is identical with the English translation of Complainant’s trademark and title “Le Petit Prince” and that the English title “The Little Prince” of Saint Exupéry’s novel is well known in the English speaking world.


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