WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Lenzing Aktiengesellschaft v. Michał Sośnik
Case No. D2014-1571
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Lenzing Aktiengesellschaft, of Lenzing, Austria, represented by Gassauer-Fleissner Rechtsanwälte GmbH, Austria.
The Respondent is Michał Sośnik, of Zawiercie, Poland.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <lenzing-handel.com> is registered with NetArt Registrar Sp. z o.o. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 12, 2014. On September 12, 2014, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 16, 2014, 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. On September 16, 2014, the Center sent a communication to the parties regarding the language of the proceedings. In response to a notification by the Center that the Complaint was administratively deficient, the Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on September 18, 2014, which also contained a request for English to be the language of the proceedings.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to 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 9, 2014. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 29, 2014. On October 27, 2014 the Center received a communication from the authorized representative of a third party, stating that it was contacted by an unknown person pretending to be the an employee of the Complainant, using an email address and domain name <lenzig-handel.com> . The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 30, 2014.
The Center appointed Louis-Bernard Buchman as the sole panelist in this matter on November 4, 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 an Austrian company which supplies the global textile and nonwovens industry with high-quality man-made cellulose fibers, with over 75 years of experience and innovation in fiber production. The Complainant has production sites in all major markets and a worldwide network of sales and marketing offices. In 2013, it had sales of close to EUR 2 billion, had more than 6,500 employees and produced 890,000 tons of fiber. The Complainant is, inter alia, the owner of LENZING, an Austrian trademark first registered on January 9, 1996 under number 161 782 (“the Mark”).
The Complainant is also the registrant of the domain name <lenzing.com>, which resolves to its much visited website.
The disputed domain name <lenzing-handel.com> was created on March 26, 2014 and while active, resolved to the Complainant’s domain name <lenzing.com> and website.
5. Parties’ Contentions
(i) The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name reproduces the Mark in which the Complainant has rights, and is confusingly similar to the Mark insofar as the disputed domain name, <lenzing-handel.com>, is identical to the Mark save for its generic addition, “handel”, which means "trade" or "commerce" in German. The Complainant also asserts that the addition of a generic word does not serve to distinguish the disputed domain name <lenzing-handel.com> from the Mark and only adds to the confusion.
(ii) The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. Furthermore, the Complainant contends that it never licensed or in any way authorized the Respondent to register or use the Mark as a domain name.
(iii) The Complainant submits that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith and is using the disputed domain name with the fraudulent intent to lure Internet users into the belief that the Respondent is, or is acquainted with, the Complainant, in effect faking the Complainant's identity.
(iv) The Complainant submits that by registering the disputed domain name, the Respondent sought to misleadingly divert Internet users for commercial gain.
(v) The Complainant requests that the disputed domain name be transferred to the Complainant.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Procedural Aspects
(i) Language of the Proceeding
Paragraph 11(a) of the Rules provides that “Unless otherwise agreed by the Parties, or specified otherwise in the Registration Agreement, the language of the administrative proceeding shall be the language of the Registration Agreement, subject to the authority of the Panel to determine otherwise, having regard to the circumstances of the administrative proceeding”.
The Registrar confirmed that the language of the Registration Agreement of the disputed domain name is Polish.
The Complainant requested that the proceeding take place in the English language, by filing an amendment to the Complaint, in which it submitted, inter alia, that the Registration Agreement states in Article V (1) that “[…] the version binding upon the Domain Name Holder shall be the original version in the English language”.
Considering the lack of a response from the Respondent, as well as the fact that using the Polish language would create an undue detriment or burden for the Complainant by increasing the costs it incurs, the Panel determines that there are valid grounds to decide to use the English language rather than the Polish language, and that, pursuant to paragraph 11(a) of the Rules, the language of the proceeding is English.
(ii) Failure to respond
The Respondent is formally in default pursuant to paragraphs 5(e) and 14(a) of the Rules and paragraph 8(c) of the Supplemental Rules, because no Response was received from the Respondent within the time limit set by the Policy and the Rules.
Under the Rules, paragraphs 5(e) and 14(a), the effect of a default by the Respondent is that, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, the Panel shall proceed to a decision on the basis of the Complaint.
Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, it is the Complainant’s burden to establish that all three of the required criteria for a transfer of the disputed domain name have been met.
Under paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, the Panel is empowered to draw such inferences from the Respondent’s default as it considers appropriate under the circumstances.
In this case, the Panel finds that as a result of the default, the Respondent has failed to rebut any of the reasonable factual assertions that are made and supported by evidence submitted by the Complainant. In particular, by defaulting and failing to respond, the Respondent has failed to offer the Panel any of the types of evidence set forth in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy from which the Panel might conclude that the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, such as making legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
Moreover, as discussed below, the Respondent has failed to provide any exculpatory information or reasoning that might have led the Panel to question the Complainant’s arguments that the Respondent has acted in bad faith.
B. Requirements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy
(i) Identical or Confusingly Similar
In comparing the disputed domain name <lenzing-handel.com> with the Mark, the Panel finds that the Mark is replicated entirely in the disputed domain name.
The consensus view of UDRP panels is that the addition of generic or descriptive terms does not generally serve to distinguish a domain name from a registered trademark. See Banconsumer Service, Inc. v. Mary Langthorne, Financial Advisor, WIPO Case No. D2001-1367; Royal Bank of Canada v. RBC Bank, WIPO Case No. D2002-0672; and Allianz AG v. Marian Dinu, WIPO Case No. D2006-0318.
In this case, the Panel finds that the “handel” component of the disputed domain name <lenzing-handel.com> is in German-speaking countries a generic term for “trade” or “commerce”, and that the dominant component of the disputed domain name is “lenzing”.
Consequently, the Panel finds that the similarity between the disputed domain name and the Mark is such as to create confusion for Internet users.
Thus, the Complainant has satisfied the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
(ii) Rights or Legitimate Interests
Although a complainant bears the ultimate burden of establishing all three elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, UDRP panels have recognized that with regard to paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy this could result in the often impossible task of proving a negative proposition, requiring information that is primarily if not exclusively within the knowledge of a respondent.
Thus, the consensus view of UDRP panels is that paragraph 4(c) of the Policy shifts the burden of production of evidence to the respondent to come forward with evidence of a right or legitimate interest in a domain name, once the complainant has made a prima facie showing, as the Panel believes the Complainant has made in this case. See Document Technologies, Inc. v. International Electronic Communications Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0270.
As previously noted, the Respondent offered no reason for selecting the disputed domain name. There is no evidence that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name or a corresponding name or uses a corresponding name in a business.
The website associated with the disputed domain resolved to the domain name and website of the Complainant.
No information is provided on what rights or legitimate interests the Respondent may have in the disputed domain name.
On the contrary, the Complainant has argued that the Respondent: (i) has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name and (ii) has not been permitted in any way by the Complainant to register or use the Mark as a domain name.
In the circumstances, the Panel concludes that the Complainant has established the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy with respect to the disputed domain name.
(iii) Registered and Used in Bad Faith
As noted above, the Respondent has failed to provide any exculpatory information or persuasive reasoning that might have led the Panel to question the Complainant’s arguments that the Respondent acted in bad faith by creating confusion to the detriment of the Complainant by registering the disputed domain name confusingly similar to the Mark.
It is established in prior UDRP decisions that the registration of a domain name confusingly similar to a trademark by any entity that has no relationship to that trademark may be, in certain circumstances, sufficient evidence of bad faith registration and use. See Pfizer Inc. v. NA, WIPO Case No. D2005-0072; AT&T Corp. v. John Zuccarini d/b/a Music Wave and RaveClub Berlin, WIPO Case No. D2002-0440; America Online, Inc. v. Anson Chan, WIPO Case No. D2001-0004; Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Maison Fondée en 1772 v. The Polygenix Group Co., WIPO Case No. D2000-0163; and Research In Motion Limited v. Dustin Picov, WIPO Case No. D2001-0492.
In this case, the Panel notes that it is close to impossible that the Respondent chose to register the disputed domain name randomly with no knowledge of the Mark. See Barney’s Inc. v. BNY Bulletin Board, WIPO Case No. D2000-0059; Kate Spade, LLC v. Darmstadter Designs, WIPO Case No. D2001-1384 citing Cellular One Group v. Paul Brien, WIPO Case No. D2000-0028; and SembCorp Industries Limited v. Hu Huan Xin, WIPO Case No. D2001-1092.
Where the Respondent knew or should have known of a trademark prior to registering the disputed domain name, such conduct may also suggest bad faith. See Weetabix Limited v. Mr. J. Clarke, WIPO Case No. D2001-0775.
In addition, the Panel notes that many UDRP panels have held that bad faith use of a domain name by a respondent may also result from the fact its good faith use is in no way plausible (see Audi AG v. Hans Wolf, WIPO Case No. D2001-0148), considering the specificity of the activity.
The Complainant has also argued and provided evidence that the disputed domain name was fraudulently used to divert Internet users for commercial gain.
Furthermore, the Panel notes that the Respondent used a privacy shield service and under the present circumstances considers this fact as corroborative of bad faith. See Gaylord Entertainment Company v. Nevis Domains LLC, WIPO Case No. D2006-0696.
Finally, some UDRP panels have held that in certain circumstances, persons who are registering domain names have an affirmative duty to abstain registering and using a domain name which is either identical or confusingly similar to a prior trademark held by others and that contravening that duty may constitute bad faith. See Policy, paragraph 2(b); Nike, Inc. v. B. B. de Boer, WIPO Case No. D2000-1397; Nuplex Industries Limited v. Nuplex, WIPO Case No. D2007-0078; Mobile Communication Service Inc. v. WebReg, RN, WIPO Case No. D2005-1304; BOUYGUES v. Chengzhang, Lu Ciagao, WIPO Case No. D2007-1325; Media General Communications, Inc. v. Rarenames, WebReg, WIPO Case No. D2006-0964; and mVisible Technologies, Inc. v. Navigation Catalyst Systems, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2007-1141.
The Panel finds that the evidence submitted supports a finding of bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
The Panel concludes in these circumstances that the Respondent’s registration and use of the disputed domain name constitute bad faith, and that the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy is also satisfied 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 <lenzing-handel.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: November 16, 2014