WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Walgreen Co. v. Muhammad Azeem / Wang Zheng, Nicenic International Group Co., Limited
Case No. D2016-1607
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Walgreen Co. of Deerfield, Illinois, United States of America (“United States” or “U.S.”) represented by CSC Digital Brand Services AB, Sweden.
The Respondent is Muhammad Azeem of London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“United Kingdom”) / Wang Zheng, Nicenic International Group Co., Limited of Hong Kong, China.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <walgreenonlinepharmacy.com> is registered with GuangDong NaiSiNiKe Information Technology Co Ltd (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 5, 2016. On August 5, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On August 16, 2016, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on August 17, 2016 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on August 17, 2016.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended 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”).
The Respondent submitted an informal communication on August 19, 2016.
In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on August 22, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was September 11, 2016. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on September 12, 2016.
On September 15, 2016, the Center granted the Respondent an additional five calendar days until September 20, 2016, to indicate its intention to participate in the proceeding. No submission in this regard was received from the Respondent.
The Center appointed Knud Wallberg as the sole panelist in this matter on October 5, 2016. 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 leading drugstore chain in the United States, with over 8,000 stores spread across all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico (Unincorporated Territory of the U.S.) and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In the fiscal year 2015, the Complainant had sales of USD 81 billion.
The Complainant holds registrations of the trademark WALGREENS in several jurisdictions around the world, including in the listed residences of the Respondent, United Kingdom / China.
As a consequence of the extensive use, advertising, and revenue associated with the mark it enjoys a high degree of reputation.
The Complainant holds several domain name registrations that include the WALGREENS mark, the main website being “www.walgreens.com”.
The disputed domain name <walgreenonlinepharmacy.com> was registered on January 14, 2016.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that (i) <walgreenonlinepharmacy.com> is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks; that (ii) the Complainant has not authorized any activities by the Respondent, nor any use of its trademarks and that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name; and that (iii) the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions save for its email communication of August 19, 2016 which is not substantive.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 15(a) of the Rules, the Panel shall decide the Complaint in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable and on the basis of the statements and documents submitted by the parties.
In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that each of the three following elements are 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 in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy states that the burden of proving that all these elements are present lies with the Complainant. At the same time, in accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, if a party, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, does not comply with any provision of, or requirement under, the Rules, or any request from the Panel, the Panel shall draw such inferences there from as it considers appropriate.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name <walgreenonlinepharmacy.com> combines the major part of the Complainant’s registered trademark WALGREENS with the addition of the generic term “onlinepharmacy”.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name <walgreenonlinepharmacy.com> is confusingly similar (in the sense of the Policy) to the Complainant’s registered trademark because it contains the Complainant´s mark, except for the “s” in the end. The addition of the generic term “onlinepharmacy” as suffix to the trademark to form the disputed domain name does not, to this Panel, dispel a finding of confusing similarity. It has also long been held by UDRP panels that the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) suffix does not preclude a finding of confusing similarity where it otherwise exists, as it does in the present case.
The Panel finds that the conditions in paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy are therefore fulfilled in relation to the disputed domain name.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
According to the Complaint, the Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its trademark.
Further, given the circumstances of this case, the Panel is of the opinion that the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent has not rebutted this and the way the Respondent has been and is using the disputed domain name (see below in Section C) does not support a finding of rights or legitimate interests.
Consequently, the Panel finds that the conditions in paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy are also fulfilled.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy requires the Complainant to prove both registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith. Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides an example of circumstances which shall be evidence of registration and use 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 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.
Accordingly, for the Complainant to succeed, the Panel must be satisfied that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Given the circumstances of the case, in particular the extent of use of the Complainant’s trademark, the reputation and the distinctive nature of the mark, it is inconceivable to the Panel in the current circumstances that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name without prior knowledge of the Complainant and the Complainant’s mark. Further, the Panel finds that the Respondent could not have been unaware of the fact that the disputed domain name it chose could attract Internet users in a manner that is likely to create confusion for such users.
The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith.
The disputed domain name is used for a website on which the Respondent imitates the logotype and the colour that is used by the Complainant in the reproduction of the term “WalGreenOnlinePharmacy.com” just as the layout of the website clearly resembles that of the Complainant’s own website. This clearly gives Internet users the impression that the website is an official website of the Complainant or a website that is authorized by the Complainant which is not the case. The Panel therefore finds that the Respondent by its registration and use of the disputed domain name intentionally creates a likelihood of confusion as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the disputed domain name with the purpose of attracting Internet users to the website for commercial gain as per paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
Noting that the disputed domain name incorporates a widely-known trademark, that no response has been filed, and that there appears to be no conceivable good faith use that could be made by the Respondent of the disputed domain name, and considering all the facts and evidence, the Panel therefore finds that the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy are also fulfilled in this case.
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, <walgreenonlinepharmacy.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: October 15, 2016