WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Merck KGaA v. Pearline Henry
Case No. D2011-1013
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Merck KGaA, of Germany, represented by Bettinger Schneider Schramm Patent- und Rechtsanwälte, Germany.
The Respondent is Pearline Henry, of Germany.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <mercklifesciences.com> is registered with GoDaddy.com, Inc.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 16, 2011. On June 16, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to GoDaddy.com, Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name(s). On June 18, 2011, GoDaddy.com, Inc. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details.
The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “UDRP”), 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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on June 20, 2011. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 10, 2011. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on July 11, 2011.
The Center appointed Dietrich Beier as the sole panelist in this matter on July 26, 2011. 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
The Complainant is a German chemical and pharmaceutical company which was founded in 1668. He is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies employing approximately 40.000 people in 67 countries around the world and has total revenues in 2010 of over 9 billion euros.
The Complainant has numerous trademarks for “MERCK” in over 170 countries, among which “Merck” German Registration No. 694178 was applied on April 29, 1955 in Germany in classes 01, 02, 03, 05, 30 and 31.
The Complainant owns 120 domain names for “MERCK“ and further 512 domain names containing the “MERCK” mark.
As a result of extensive use, the Complainant’s trademarks and company name have acquired a significant goodwill and are well-known world wide, in particular in Germany, where the Respondent is located.
The Respondent registered the disputed domain name on February 28, 2010 and is currently using it in connection with a parking website which provides links relevant to the Complainant’s goods and services, namely to services with relation to pharmaceutical products such as “Pharma consulting: consulting services for assay systems considering GLP/GMP!”.
On April 7, 2011 the Complainant sent a cease and desist letter to the Respondent by email and mail. The mail was returned with the remark that the mail address was not correct.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant argues that the disputed domain name <mercklifesciences.com> is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s MERCK-Marks due to the character of the element <lifesciences> as a generic term.
The Respondent shall have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name since the term “MERCK” is neither a dictionary word nor a generic term. Further, there is not any license or other permission available. There shall be no evidence that the Respondent has used the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. The use for a parking webpage displaying sponsored links to third party websites shall not be a bona fide use.
The Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. Due to the character of the MERCK- Marks as well known, it is inconceivable that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name not aware of the Complainant’s rights in its MERCK-Marks. The current use for a parking website is an indication for bad faith in directing Internet users to a site providing links to third party websites.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
In order to succeed in its claim, the Complainant must demonstrate that all of the elements enumerated in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been satisfied:
(i) The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the disputed domain name; and
(iii) The disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has established the fact that it has valid rights in the MERCK-Marks.
The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the MERC- Marks since the addition of “lifesciences” in the disputed domain name is of a purely descriptive nature and does not change the overall impression being created by the dominating element “MERCK” being used identically.
The Panel therefore considers the disputed domain name to be confusingly similar to the MERCK-Marks in which the Complainant has rights in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has no rights in the disputed domain name nor is the Respondent a licensee of the Complainant. Also, the Complainant has not granted any permission or consent to the Respondent to use its trademarks. Furthermore, the Respondent has no legitimate interest in the disputed domain name since there is no indication that the Respondent is commonly known by the name “MERCK” or “mercklifesciences” or a combination thereof nor that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. For the latter, as the panel in Mayflower Transit LLC v. Domains by Proxy Inc./Yariv Moshe, WIPO Case No. D2007-1695 stated correctly, it must be noted that the use of a domain name confusingly similar to a complainant’s trademark for the purpose of offering sponsored links does not of itself qualify as a bona fide use. Also a noncommercial or fair use is not noticeable.
The Panel therefore finds that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Due to the nature of the MERCK Marks as well-known, as it was inter alia confirmed by the panelist in Merck KGaA v. Registrant : Chen Yan Hua, WIPO Case No. D2011-1010, the Respondent must have been well aware of the Complainant and its trademarks when registering the disputed domain name. The Complainant had not authorized the Respondent to make use of its mark. This Panel does not see any conceivable legitimate use that could be made by the Respondent of this particular disputed domain name without the Complainant’s authorization.
Furthermore, by using the disputed domain name for a parking website that provides links to third party websites where inter alia products and services of competitors of the Complainant are advertised, it is obvious for this Panel that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name primarily with the intention of attempting to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to a potential website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of such potential website or location, or of a product or service on such website or location.
The Panel therefore considers that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the disputed domain name <mercklifesciences.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: August 8, 2011