World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Arla Foods amba v. Elias Sajadpour

Case No. D2011-1604

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Arla Foods amba of Viby J, Denmark, represented by Zacco Denmark A/S, Denmark.

The Respondent is Elias Sajadpour of Helsingborg, Australia.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <arlasweden.com> is registered with Ascio Technologies Inc.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 22, 2011. On September 22, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to Ascio Technologies Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 27, 2011, Ascio Technologies 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 October 3, 2011. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 23, 2011. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 25, 2011.

The Center appointed Luca Barbero as the sole panelist in this matter on October 31, 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 Danish cooperative which belongs to the Arla Foods Group and is the owner of the International trademark registration No. 731917 for ARLA (word mark) registered on March 20, 2000, which covers, among others, several countries in Europe and the United States.

The Complainant is also the owner of several domain names incorporating the trademark ARLA, including <arla.com>, which was registered on July 15, 1996. The Complainant’s subsidiary Arla Foods AB is the registered owner of the domain name <arla.se>, registered on December 7, 1994.

The disputed domain name <arlasweden.com> was registered on September 6, 2011.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant points out that the Arla Foods Group is one of the largest dairy companies in Europe and contends that the disputed domain name <arlasweden.com> is confusingly similar to its registered trademark, since it entirely reproduces the trademark ARLA, with the mere addition of the geographical indication “Sweden”, which is insufficient to avoid the risk of confusion with the Complainant’s mark.

With reference to rights or legitimate interest, the Complainant states that it has not authorized or granted the Respondent any license to use its trademark ARLA and that the Respondent is not commonly known as “arlasweden”. The Complainant also points out that there is no evidence of the Respondent’s use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the disputed domain name or a name corresponding to the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services as it has merely redirected it to the Complainant’s website “www.arla.se”.

With reference to bad faith requirement, the Complainant states that its trademark ARLA is well-known in Europe and that the above-described use of the disputed domain name constitutes evidence of the Respondent’s awareness of the Complainant’s ARLA trademarks and websites.

The Complainant also states that a possible change in the use of the disputed domain name would likely create confusion amongst Internet users as to the endorsement or affiliation of the Respondent’s website and that the value of the disputed domain name is being increased by the redirection to the Complainant’s web site. The Complainant concludes that the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to an on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s marks as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s web site or other location.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

According to paragraph 15(a) of the Rules: “A Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.” Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that the Complainant must prove each of the following:

(i) that the disputed domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or a service in which the Complainant has rights; and

(ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and

(iii) that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the registered trademark ARLA owned by the Complainant. Pursuant to a number of prior decisions rendered under the Policy, the addition of descriptive terms to a trademark is not a distinguishing feature.

See, inter alia, Barry D. Sears, Ph.D. v. YY / Yi Yanlin, WIPO Case No. D2007-0286 (“diet” added to the ZONE mark); Fry’s Electronics, Inc. v. Whois ID Theft Protection, WIPO Case No. D2006-1435 (“electronic” added to the FRY mark); Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Henry Chan, WIPO Case No. D2004-0056 (“chase”, “girlsof”, “jobsat”, “sams”, “application”, “blackfriday”, “blitz”, “books”, “career(s)”, “check”, “flw”, “foundation”, “games”, “mart”, “photostudio”, “pictures”, “portrait”, “portraitstudio(s)”, “registry”, “retaillink” and “wire” added to the WALMART mark); PepsiCo, Inc. v. Henry Chan, WIPO Case No. D2004-0033 (“chart”, “miusic”, “earena”, “sweep”, “nfl” and “coliseum” added to the PEPSI mark); International Organization for Standardization ISO v. Quality Practitioners Institute and Website Pros, Inc. and Quality, WIPO Case No. D2005-1028 (“net” and “training” added to the ISO mark); Banca Intesa S.p.A v. Roshan Wickramaratna, WIPO Case No. D2006-0215 (“online” added to BANCAINTESA mark); Groupe Auchan v. Jakub Kamma, WIPO Case No. D2007-0565 (addition of the term “software” to the trademark AUCHAN).

Therefore, the mere addition of the geographical indication “Sweden”, which furthermore indicates one of the countries where the Complainant is based, does not exclude the likelihood of confusion between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s trademark.

In view of the above, the Panel finds that the Complainant has proven that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the trademark in which the Complainant has rights in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Complainant must show that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. The Respondent may establish a right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name by demonstrating in accordance with paragraph 4(c) of the Policy any of the following:

“(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable 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) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or

(iii) you are making a legitimate noncommercial 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.”

It is well-established that the burden of production of evidence lies on the complainant. However, satisfying the burden of proving a lack of the respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name according to paragraph 4(a) (ii) of the Policy is potentially quite onerous, since proving a negative circumstance is always more difficult than establishing a positive one.

Accordingly, in line with the UDRP precedents, it is sufficient that the Complainant show a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name in order to shift the burden of production on the Respondent. If the Respondent fails to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name in accordance with paragraph 4(c) of the Policy or on any other basis, the Complainant is deemed to have satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy (Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455; Belupo d.d. v. WACHEM d.o.o., WIPO Case No. D2004-0110; MetAmerica Mortgage Bankers v. Whois ID Theft Protection, c/o Domain Admin, NAF Claim No. FA852581).

In the case at hand, by not submitting a Response, the Respondent has not rebutted the Complainant’s prima facie case, failing to invoke any circumstance that could demonstrate, pursuant to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

The Panel observes that there is no relation, disclosed to the Panel or otherwise apparent from the record, between the Respondent and the Complainant. The Respondent is not a licensee of the Complainant, nor has the Respondent otherwise obtained an authorization to use the Complainant’s trademarks.

Furthermore, there is no indication on the record that the Respondent has made preparations to use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, or that it intends to make a legitimate, non-commercial or fair use of the disputed domain name, as the Respondent has merely redirected it to the website at the domain name <arla.se> owned by one of the Complainant’s subsidiaries.

In light of the above and in absence of a Response, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

For the purpose of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith:

(i) circumstances indicating that the holder has registered or has acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the holder’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or

(ii) the holder 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 the holder has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) the holder has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) by using the domain name, the holder has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the holder’s 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 the holder’s website or location or of a product or service on the holder’s website or location.

The Panel finds that the registration of the disputed domain name constituted by the trademark ARLA and the generic term “Sweden” cannot be ascribed to a mere coincidence and the fact that the disputed domain name was pointed by the Respondent to the website of the Complainant’s subsidiary suggests, in the Panel`s view, that the Respondent was indeed aware of the Complainant’s trademark at the time of registration.

The Panel shares the view of a number of panel findings of “opportunistic bad faith” in the registration of renowned or even somewhat less famous trademarks, as found in Gateway, Inc. v. Lorna Kang, WIPO Case No. D2003-0257. Along the same lines Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin, Maison Fondée en 1772 v. The Polygenix Group Co., WIPO Case No. D2000-0163; Expedia, Inc. v. European Travel Network, WIPO Case No. D2000-0137; Prada S.A. v. Mark O'Flynn, WIPO Case No. D2001-0368; Ferrari S.p.A. v. Inter-Mediates Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0050 and The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. v. Act One Internet Solutions, WIPO Case No. D2003-0103. As stated inter alia in DHL Operations B.V v. Net Marketing Group, WIPO Case No. D2005-0868 “...it is obvious that the value and goodwill, of the Complainant’s mark DHL which has an extensive worldwide recognition, would have been known to the Respondent at the time of registration of the disputed domain name. The registration and use of the mark by an entity unconnected to the Complainant gives rise to the presumption of opportunistic bad faith”.

The Panel notes that the disputed domain name, which was previously pointed to the website “www.arla.se”, is now redirected to a registrar parking page, what indicates a passive holding. As established in a number of prior cases, the concept of “bad faith use” in paragraph 4(b) of the Policy includes not only positive action but also passive holding; see the landmark case Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003.

As an additional circumstance evidencing bad faith, the Panel notes that there has been no Response and in this case, as stated i.a. in Sports Holdings, Inc v. Whois ID Theft Protection, WIPO Case No. D2006-1146, “it is open for the Panel to infer a prima facie case of bad faith registration. The Panel also notes that the Respondent has used the present domain name in a commercial website. The evidence before the Panel indicates that the Respondent has used (or allowed the use) of the domain name for the purpose of some apparently commercial nature from which the Respondent (or a related third party) presumably derives or intends to derive revenue. This is not conduct consistent with registration and use in good faith”.

In view of the above, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.

7. Decision

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 <arlasweden.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Luca Barbero
Sole Panelist
Dated: November 17, 2011

 

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