WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Allianz AG v. Marian Dinu
Case No. D2006-0318
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Allianz AG, Munich, Germany, represented by Lorenz Seidler Gossel, Germany.
The Respondent is Marian Dinu, Vâlcea, Romania.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <europealliance.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with Direct Information Pvt Ltd d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 14, 2006. On March 15, 2006, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name at issue. On March 16, 2006, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details for the administrative, billing, and technical contact. The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Rules”), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Supplemental Rules”).
In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on March 22, 2006. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was April 11, 2006. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on April 12, 2006.
The Center appointed Dr. Bernhard F. Meyer-Hauser as the sole panelist in this matter on April 21, 2006. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with the Rules, paragraph 7.
4. Factual Background
Complainant is one of the world’s leading insurers and financial services providers. It has been acting under the company name Allianz since January 13, 1890. Complainant’s group is represented in more than 70 countries.
Complainant registered the trademark ALLIANZ nationally and internationally.
The Respondent is an individual domiciled in Romania.
The Domain Name was registered by Respondent on January 26, 2006. The website associated to the Domain Name is at the moment inactive due to a decision of Munich’s Regional Court on February 6, 2006.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant objects to the use of the Domain Name by Respondent and bases its Complaint on the following grounds:
1. The Domain Name is confusingly similar to the trademark in which Complainant has rights. The prefix “europe” is a geographical indication only and without any distinctive character. “Alliance” is the English translation of “Allianz” and therefore not only acoustically and visually similar, but also conceptually identical. The translation of trademarks does not avoid a likelihood of confusion.
2. Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name:
a) Respondent has not been commonly known by the Domain Name.
b) Respondent is not making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the Domain Name. Respondent was not using the disputed Domain Name in connection with any bona fide offering of goods or services.
3. The Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith:
a) Respondent intentionally attempted to attract for commercial gain Internet users to Respondent’s website by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of Respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on Respondent’s website or location.
b) It is evident that Respondent knew Complainant’s company name and trademarks. Respondent also placed a link “powered by Allianz” onto the website leading to Complainant’s official website, although there is no contractual or other relationship between Complainant and Respondent.
Complainant requests the Panel to order a transfer of the Domain Name from Respondent to Complainant.
Respondent was duly notified of the administrative proceedings as stipulated under paragraph 2(a) of the Rules, but did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy sets forth three elements that must be established by Complainant to merit a finding that a Respondent has engaged in abusive domain name registration, and to obtain relief. These elements are that:
(i) Respondent’s domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) Respondent’s domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Domain Name <europealliance.com> combines a geographical indication and the English translation of Complainant’s trademark ALLIANZ. The suffix “alliance” is phonetically and acoustically similar to Complainant’s trademark. The Panel thus finds that the translation of Complainant’s trademark does not avoid a likelihood of confusion. Likewise, the prefix “europe” does not render the disputed Domain Name significantly different from Complainant’s ALLIANZ trademark. The mere addition of a generic word to a famous trademark is not sufficient to avoid confusion (see Chanel, Inc. v. Estco Technology Group, WIPO Case No. D2000-0413). ALLIANZ is a very well-known trademark throughout the world and the Domain Name is most likely to be held as Complainant’s pan-European website.
In view of all the above, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademark ALLIANZ. Complainant therefore has fulfilled the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
According to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, the following circumstances can demonstrate rights to and legitimate interests of a Respondent in the Domain Name:
(i) before any notice was given to the Respondent of the dispute, the Respondent used, or demonstrably made preparations to use, the Domain Name or a name corresponding to the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) Respondent (as an individual, business, or other organization) has been commonly known by the Domain Name, even though it has not acquired any trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) Respondent is making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the Domain Name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.
Respondent is neither using the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services nor is it making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the Domain Name. According to the printout of Respondent’s website, Respondent offered financial or monetary services, so-called “online escrow services”. He placed a link “powered by Allianz” onto the website leading to Complainant’s official website, and thus, created the impression that Respondent’s services are provided or supported by Complainant. In addition, Respondent offers its financial and monetary services under a domain name that is confusingly similar to Complainant’s ALLIANZ trademark. Complainant however asserts that there is no contractual or other relationship between the Allianz group and Respondent. This is not contested.
Respondent has not been previously known under the disputed Domain Name. To the Panel, it is, thus, apparent that Respondent intentionally misused Complainant’s reputation to sell financial services under the alleged patronage of Complainant for commercial gain. This behavior does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services.
For the reasons set forth above, Respondent has no legitimate interest in respect of the Domain Name in the sense of paragraph 4(c) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
According to paragraph 4(b) of the Policy, the Domain Name has been used and registered in bad faith if:
(i) circumstances indicating that Respondent has registered and has acquired the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to Complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of the Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of Respondent’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the Domain Name; or
(ii) Respondent has registered the Domain Name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) Respondent has registered the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the Domain Name, Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of Respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on its website or location.
As mentioned above, Respondent intentionally attempted to sell financial services by pretending that those services are provided or supported by Complainant. Respondent, to this effect, used a domain name that is confusingly similar to Complainant’s ALLIANZ trademark. In addition, he placed a link “powered by Allianz” leading to Complainant’s official website. Complainant and Respondent are active in the same field of business. As a result, Respondent created a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s trademark to attract Internet users for commercial gain. This clearly indicates bad faith.
In summary, Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith in accordance with paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
In consideration of the above, the Panel holds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the registered trademark of Complainant, that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name, and that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and paragraph 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <europealliance.com> shall be transferred to Complainant.
Dr. Bernhard F. Meyer-Hauser
Date: May 5, 2006