World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Audi AG and Volkswagen AG v. Glenn Karlsson-Springare

Case No. D2011-2121

1. The Parties

Complainants are Audi AG of Ingolstadt, Germany and Volkswagen AG of Wolfsburg, Germany, represented by HK2 Rechtsanwälte, Germany.

Respondent is Glenn Karlsson-Springare of Huddinge, Sweden.

2. The Domain Names and Registrar

The disputed domain names <audi-environment.com>, <audienvironment.com>, <volkswagenenvironment.com>, and <vwenvironment.com> are registered with eNom.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 5, 2011. On December 5, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to eNom a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On December 5, 2011, eNom transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on December 13, 2011. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was January 2, 2011. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on January 4, 2012.

The Center appointed Lone Prehn as the sole panelist in this matter on January 13, 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

Complainant 1 is Audi AG of Germany. Complainant 1 is a car manufacturer with its cars being sold worldwide. Complainant holds both national and international trademarks containing the string “audi”. Complainant as well as its affiliated companies or authorized dealers, run various websites under domain names including the AUDI trademarks.

Earlier panel decisions have confirmed that the AUDI trademarks are well-known and of strong reputation, see Audi AG v. Mike Gillespie, Gillespie Auto Group, WIPO Case No. D2007-1850, and Volkswagen AG v. Zigoumis, Constantine, WIPO Case No. D2008-0755.

Complainant 2 is Volkswagen AG of Germany. Complainant 2 is also a car manufacturer with its cars being sold worldwide. Complainant 2 holds both national and international trademarks containing the strings “Volkswagen” or “vw”. Complainant as well as its affiliated companies or authorized dealers, run various websites under domain names including the VOLKSWAGEN and VW trademarks.

Earlier WIPO UDRP panel decisions have confirmed that the trademarks VOLKSWAGEN and VW of Complainant 2 are of strong reputation. See Volkswagen AG v. Domain Manager, WIPO Case No. D2004-0191; Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft v. LaPorte Holdings, WIPO Case No. D2005-0780; Volkswagen AG v. Davids Volkswagen Page, WIPO Case No. D2004-0498; Volkswagen AG v. NovaNIC, WIPO Case No. D2005-0142; and Volkswagen AG v. Zigoumis, Constantin, WIPO Case No. D2008-0755.

Complainant 1 belongs to Complainant 2’s group of companies.

The disputed domain names are registered with eNom Inc. According to the public WhoIs database, all the disputed domain names, i.e., <audienvironment.com>, <audi-environment.com>, <vwenvironment.com>, and <volkswagenenvironment.com> were created on October 3, 2011.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainants

Complainants 1 and 2 submit that several decisions in WIPO UDRP proceedings have affirmed that AUDI, VW, and VOLKSWAGEN are well-known trademarks.

Complainants contend that the elements “audi”, “vw”, and “volkswagen” of the disputed domain names are identical to Complainants’ trademarks. The added term “environment” is clearly descriptive and does not avoid a finding of confusing similarity of the disputed domain names with Complainants’ trademarks.

Environmental topics become more and more important for car manufacturers, and both Complainants are known for building environment-friendly cars. Complainant 2 already uses the domain names <volkswagenenvironment.com> and <vw-environment> in connection with a website with information about environmental management of the company.

Complainant asserts that there is no indication of Respondent’s use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the disputed domain names in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. Complainants also assert that their use of their marks predates the registration of the dispute domain names by many years.

On October 2, 2011, Respondent approached Complainant 1 with an offer to sell seven domain names, inter alia the disputed domain names <audienvironment.com> and <audi-environment.com>. Respondent never had the intention to create a business under the disputed domains. His only intention was selling the disputed domain names, exceeding the out-of-pocket costs directly related to the disputed domain names, to Complainants.

Respondent is not commonly known by “Audi”, “Audienvironment”, “Volkswagen”, “VW” or “Volkswagenenvironment”.

Respondent used the disputed domain names displaying a parking page. Such use may only be permissible under the UDRP where domain names consisting of dictionary or common words or phrases support posted pay-per-click links genuinely related to the generic meaning of the domain name at issue.

Offering the disputed domain names to Complainant 1 to gain commercial profit constitutes bad faith.

Complainants’ trademarks belong to the globally best-known trademarks. Respondent must have had actual and constructive knowledge about Complainants’ trademarks when acquiring the disputed domain names.

B. Respondent

Respondent did not reply to Complainants’ contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, a complainant must prove that each of the following three elements is present:

(i) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the complainant’s trademark; and

(ii) a respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and

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

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Complainant 1 is the owner of the AUDI trademark and Complainant 2 of the VW and VOLKSWAGEN trademarks. Complainant’s trademarks are very well-known.

The additional word “environment” following the trademarks AUDI, VW and VOLKSWAGEN in the disputed domain names is merely generic and does not avoid a finding of confusing similarity of the disputed domain names with Complainants’ trademarks.

Environmental topics become more and more important for car manufacturers, and both Complainants are known for building environment-friendly cars. Complainant 2 already uses the domain names <volkswagenenvironment.com> and <vw-environment> in connection with a website with information about environmental management of the company.

Therefore, the Panel finds that Complainants have satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Respondent has not submitted any response to the Complaint and has thus not demonstrated any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names. There is no indication of Respondent’s use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the disputed domain names in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, and Complainants have not granted Respondent any right to use of its very well-known trademarks in the disputed domain names. Consequently, the Panel finds that Complainants have satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Respondent approached Complainant 1 with an offer to sell seven domain names, including the disputed domain names <audienvironment.com> and <audi-environment.com>. Such conduct constitutes prima facie evidence that Respondent has registered and is using these disputed domain names in bad faith.

Respondent uses the disputed domain names displaying a parking page. Such use may only be permissible under the UDRP where domain names consisting of dictionary or common words or phrases support posted pay-per-click links genuinely related to the generic meaning of the domain name at issue.

Considering that Complainants’ trademarks belong to the globally best-known trademarks, the Panel is satisfied that Respondent must have had actual and constructive knowledge about Complainants’ trademarks when acquiring the disputed domain names.

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 names <audi-environment.com> and <audienvironment.com> be transferred to Complainant 1 and that the disputed domain names <volkswagenenvironment.com> and <vwenvironment.com> be transferred to Complainant 2.

Lone Prehn
Sole Panelist
Dated: January 23, 2012

 

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