WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG v. Bryan Smith
Case No. D2014-0997
1. The Parties
The Complainant is F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG of Basel, Switzerland, represented internally.
The Respondent is Bryan Smith of Sunland Park, New Mexico, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <online-buy-valium.com> is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 12, 2014. On June 12, 2014, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On June 13, 2014, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response.
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 17, 2014. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 7, 2014. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on July 8, 2014.
The Center appointed Christos A. Theodoulou as the sole panelist in this matter on July 22, 2014. 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, together with its affiliated companies, a large healthcare group in the fields of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, having global operations in more than 100 countries.
The Complainant’s mark VALIUM is a sedative and anxiolytic drug with a worldwide reputation. According to the non-contested allegations of the Complainant, it is protected as trademark in a multitude of countries worldwide.
The example provided by the Complainant is international registration number R250784. Priority date of the mark VALIUM is October 20, 1961. The disputed domain name <online-buy-valium.com> was created on December 15, 2013.
The Respondent is using the disputed domain name to redirect Internet users to a pharmacy online.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to trademarks or service marks in which the Complainant has rights, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name and that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Before engaging in the threefold discussion of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Panel will briefly address the procedural issue relating to the default of the Respondent. The implications of a default in this case are telling: since the Complainant has the burden of proof, according to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy (“In the administrative proceeding, the complainant must prove that each of these three elements are present”), , the Panel may not just grant the Complainant’s request automatically due to the default, but it has to examine instead the evidence presented to determine whether or not the Complainant has proved its case, as required by the Policy. See FNAC v. Gauthier Raymond, WIPO Case No. D2004-0881; Sonofon A/S v. Vladimir Aleksic, WIPO Case No. D2007-0668; Gaudi Trade SpA v. Transure Enterprise Ltd, WIPO Case No. D2009-1028.
The Panel shall now proceed to the analysis of the evidence in this case, based on the three elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has presented evidence to demonstrate that it owns registered trademark rights in VALIUM throughout the world.
The mere fact that the Respondent has added to the VALIUM mark the descriptive terms “online” and “buy” and the suffix “.com” does not effect the essence of the matter: the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark of the Complainant and, in the circumstances of this case, is by itself sufficient to establish the criterion of identity or confusing similarity for purposes of the Policy, as many UDRP panels have found in the past. See e.g., Oki Data Americas, Inc. v. ASD, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2001-0903; Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. v. K. Harjani Electronics Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2002-1021; DFDS A/S v. NOLDC INC, WIPO Case No. D2006-1070; American Automobile Association, Inc. v. Bladimir Boyiko and Andrew Michailov, WIPO Case No. D2006-0252.
In view of the above, the Panel finds that the Complainant has discharged its burden of proof on this point and holds that the disputed domain name <online-buy-valium.com> is identical to the Complainant’s trademark VALIUM.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides a non-exhaustive list of circumstances which, if found by a panel to be proved based on its evaluation of the evidence presented, shall demonstrate a registrant’s right to or legitimate interest in a domain name. These examples are discussed in turn below, with regard to the specific facts of this case.
(i) Use or demonstrable preparations to use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services prior to the dispute. In the Panel’s view, the Respondent is not using the disputed domain name to make any bona fide offering of goods or services. According to the available record, the website at the disputed domain name offers products and services identical or similar to those offered by the Complainant.
(ii) An indication that the Respondent has been commonly known by the disputed domain name, even if it has acquired no trademark rights: In this case, there is no such indication from the present record.
(iii) Legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademarks at issue. Again, in this case there is no such indication from the record, given the apparent commercial use of the website at the disputed domain name.
Further the Respondent does not seem to have any trademark registrations including the term “valium”. Additionally, it is to be noted that the Respondent did not present evidence of any license by the Complainant, with whom there seems to exist no relationship whatsoever.
As a conclusion on this point, the Panel finds that the Complainant has established an uncontested, prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, and that the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant’s argumentation on this point is mainly based on the circumstances mentioned in paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy in order to demonstrate the Respondent’s bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name.
In reviewing the present case, it appears that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name, which is still being used to advertise similar goods and services to those of the Complainant, to create, for commercial gain, a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademarks.
The bad faith of the Respondent is also reinforced through a simple, logical process as well, in the sense that it would indeed be highly unlikely that the Respondent would register randomly and unintentionally a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s distinctive VALIUM trademark. Rather, it seems to this Panel more likely that such registration and use would be motivated by a hoped-for capitalization, i.e., commercial gain from the Complainant’s reputation.
The Panel also notes the default of the Respondent, which, in the present circumstances, “reinforces the inference of bad faith registration and bad faith use”. The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited v. Bill Lynn, WIPO Case No. D2001-0915.
As a consequence of the above, the Panel finds that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has successfully proven that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to trademarks and service marks in which the Complainant has rights, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
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 <online-buy-valium.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Christos A. Theodoulou
Date: August 4, 2014