World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG v. Private Whois Service

Case No. D2011-1970

1. The Parties

The Complainant is F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG of Basel, Switzerland.

The Respondent is Private Whois Service of Nassau, Bahamas.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <valiumrxguide.com> is registered with Internet.bs Corp.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 9, 2011. On November 9, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to Internet.bs Corp (the “Registrar”) a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 10, 2011, the Registrar 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 November 15, 2011. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was December 5, 2011. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 6, 2011.

The Center appointed Syed Naqiz Shahabuddin as the sole panelist in this matter on January 16, 2012. 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

4.1 The Complainant and its group of companies is a leading research-focused healthcare group in the fields of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, with global presence in more than 100 countries.

4.2 VALIUM is a long standing trademark of the Complainant which has been registered on a worldwide basis. One of the trademark registrations of the Complainant (International Registration No. R250784) has a priority date that dates back to October 20, 1961.

4.3 The VALIUM trademark is applied to sedative and anxiolytic drugs that belong to the benzodiazepine family. The drug enabled the Complainant to build a global reputation in psychotropic medication.

4.4 The disputed domain name was registered on November 3, 2011.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

5.1 The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s VALIUM trademark. The disputed domain name comprises of the Complainant’s VALIUM trademark in its entirety and the descriptive terms “rx” and “guide” and does not sufficiently distinguish the disputed domain name from the VALIUM trademark.

5.2 The Complainant further contends that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests to the disputed domain name because:

(a) the Complainant has exclusive rights to the VALIUM trademark.

(b) the Complainant has not licensed, authorised or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use the VALIUM trademark for a domain name.

(c) the Respondent does not have legitimate interest in the disputed domain name as it directs Internet users to an on-line pharmacy by applying the Complainant’s VALIUM trademark.

(d) the Respondent is not making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the disputed domain name as the Respondent seeks to trade on the fame of the VALIUM trademark for commercial gain and profit.

5.3 In relation to the requirement of bad faith registration and use of the domain name, the Complainant contends as follows:

(a) the Respondent had knowledge of the Complainant’s VALIUM trademark when it registered the disputed domain name on November 3, 2011.

(b) the content of the website which the disputed domain name resolves to indicate an intentional attempt by the Respondent to create a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s well known VALIUM trademark as to the source, affiliation and endorsement of the Respondent’s website or of the products or services posted on or linked to the website.

(c) the disputed domain name resolves to an on-line pharmacy. Revenue is also generated through the promotion and/or offering of products and services of third parties through click-through commissions from the diversion of Internet users.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

In order to succeed in its Complaint, the Complainant is required to establish the following elements set out under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy:

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

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

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

6.1. Identical or Confusingly Similar to the Trademark

The Panel is satisfied with the evidence adduced by the Complainant to establish its rights to the VALIUM trademark. The trademark has been registered since 1961 and used by the Complainant on a global basis for its psychotropic medication.

The disputed domain name comprises the VALIUM trademark in its entirety with the additional descriptive term “rx” and the word “guide”. The term “rx” is commonly applied in the medical or pharmaceutical industry as a reference to medical prescription. Hence, when the disputed domain name combines the VALIUM trademark with the additional descriptive matter “rx” and “guide”, it appears to suggest a domain name which serves as a guide to medication bearing the VALIUM trademark.

As such, the distinctive feature of the disputed domain name remains the VALIUM trademark and the additional descriptive matter do not distinguish the disputed domain name from the VALIUM trademark nor eliminate the likelihood of confusion (see Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v Kuchora, Kal, WIPO Case No. D2006-0033).

As such the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s VALIUM trademark for the purpose of the Policy.

6.2. Rights or Legitimate Interests in the Disputed Domain Name

The Complainant’s assertions had not been rebutted by the Respondent to indicate whether it has any rights or legitimate interests to the disputed domain name.

The Complainant unequivocally denied granting the Respondent any licence, authority or permission to use the VALIUM trademark. There was also no evidence to indicate that the Respondent was known by the name VALIUM, RX or GUIDE.

The disputed domain name resolves to a website that provides on-line pharmacy services and contains Internet links to third party products and services. Presumably, the website operator or owner also earns commissions through Internet traffic diverted from the website. The click-though business model is commonly referred to as click-through services.

In this Panel’s opinion, as the Respondent uses the VALIUM trademark as a critical feature of its domain name and the use thereof is unauthorized, then such use cannot be regarded as a bona fide offering of goods or services or one which is fair or non-commercial in nature (see also Sigikid H. Scharrer & Koch GmbH & Co. KG, MyBear Marketing-und Vertriebs GmbH, Mr. Thomas Dufner v Bestinfo, WIPO Case No. D2004-0990). This Panel also agrees with the Complainant’s contention that the use of the VALIUM trademark as part of the disputed domain name (albeit partly) to provide on-line pharmacy services cannot give rise to a legitimate interest (see also Pfizer Inc. v jg a/k/a Josh Green, WIPO Case No. D2004-0784).

In the circumstances, the Panel is, therefore, satisfied that the second element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been proven by the Complainant.

6.3. Registration and Use in Bad Faith

The Panel agrees with the contention by the Complainant that the Respondent had knowledge of the Complainant’s VALIUM trademark when it registered and started using the disputed domain name. The factors that were taken into account to arrive at this conclusion include the date of registration of the VALIUM trademark which pre-dated the registration of the disputed domain name by more than five decades and the widespread use of the VALIUM trademark at an international level.

The Panel is satisfied with the contention by the Complainant that the use of the VALIUM trademark as part of the disputed domain name appears to be an attempt to mislead or to divert Internet traffic to the Respondent’s website. The use of the VALIUM trademark seeks to represent a connection or association between the Respondent’s website and the Complainant or the Complainant’s products or services related to the VALIUM trademark. This is supported further by the fact that the Respondent offers on-line pharmaceutical services, a service offering which is directly related to products and services related to the VALIUM trademark.

As such, the Panel finds that bad faith has been demonstrated under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.

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 <valiumrxguide.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Syed Naqiz Shahabuddin
Sole Panelist
Dated: January 26, 2012

 

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