WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Lloyds Bank Plc v. Marc Wiese
Case No. D2015-0914
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Lloyds Bank Plc of London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the “UK”), represented by Crowell & Moring, LLP, Belgium.
The Respondent is Marc Wiese of Hannover, Germany.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <lloydsbank.brussels> is registered with One.com A/S (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed in English with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 29, 2015. On May 29, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On June 1, 2015, 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.
According to information received from the concerned registrar, the language of the registration agreement for the disputed domain name is German. Accordingly, on June 10, 2015, the Center requested the Complainant to provide at least one of the following: 1) satisfactory evidence of an agreement between the Complainant and the Respondent to the effect that the proceedings should be in English; or 2) submit the Complaint translated into German; or 3) submit a request for English to be the language of the administrative proceedings. The Complainant submitted a request that English be the language of the proceedings, to which the Respondent did not reply.
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 25, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 15, 2015. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on July 16, 2015.
The Center appointed Theda König Horowicz as the sole panelist in this matter on July 28, 2015. 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 in the business of financial services and belongs to the well-known “Lloyds Banking Group”.
The Complainant is the right holder of several registrations, including in the UK and Germany, for trademarks comprising LLOYDS BANK which cover notably financial services.
The Complainant has an official Internet presence through its website “www.lloydsbank.com” which promotes its brand and services.
The Respondent registered the disputed domain name <lloydsbank.brussels> on February 17, 2015. It is linked to a parking page containing sponsored links.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant alleges to have rights over the trademark LLOYDS BANK registered in several countries in international classes 9, 35 and 36 which have been used since 1986, notably through the official website “www.lloydsbank.com”. The disputed domain name <lloydsbank.brussels> incorporates the Complainant’s trademark in its entirety and is therefore identical.
The Complainant further states that the Respondent has no legitimate rights in the disputed domain name <lloydsbank.brussels> as (i) he is not commonly known by the disputed domain name; (ii) he has not acquired any trademark rights and was not authorized to register and use the disputed domain name; (iii) the disputed domain name resolves to a parking page containing sponsored links which directly refer to the Complainant’s business.
The Complainant considers that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith as the Respondent must have known the Complainant and its trademarks since the latter are well-known worldwide, particularly in Europe being noted that the disputed domain name is registered under “.brussels” referring to the capital city of the European Union thus increasing the likelihood of confusion for the internet user. The Complainant also considers that the disputed domain name is used in bad faith as it is linked to a parking page and it is not possible to imagine any plausible future use which would not infringe the Complainant’s rights over its well-known trademark. Finally, the Complainant mentions that in view of the well-known character of its trademark, it cannot be excluded that the Respondent uses the disputed domain name for fraudulent activities (phishing).
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Language of Proceedings
The Registration Agreement is in German.
In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of the Rules, the default language of the proceedings would be German.
The Complainant requested English to be the language of the proceedings.
An opportunity was given to the Respondent to challenge the Complainant’s request. However, the Respondent did not submit any comment.
Paragraph 11(a) of the Rules allows the panel to determine the language of the proceedings having regard to the circumstances. With regard to paragraphs 10(b) and (c) of the Rules, panels must ensure fairness to the parties and maintenance of a cost-efficient and expeditious avenue for resolving domain name disputes. Language requirements should not lead to undue burden to the parties and undue delay to the proceedings (e.g., Whirlpool Corporation, Whirlpool Properties, Inc. v. Hui’erpu (HK) electrical applicance co. ltd., WIPO Case No. D2008-0293; Solvay S.A. v. Hyun-Jun Shin, WIPO Case No. D2006-0593).
The Panel notes that both parties have been given a fair opportunity to present their case. The Center notified the Respondent in both English and German, indicating that it would accept a response filed in either language. The Respondent did not react. There is thus no objective reason in the present case to disadvantage the Complainant by making them translate their Complaint.
Under the circumstances, the Panel concludes that the language of the proceedings shall be English.
B. Substantive Issues
Under the Policy, in order to prevail, a complainant must prove the following three elements for obtaining the transfer of a domain name:
(i) that the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the complainant has rights;
(ii) that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name; and
(iii) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
a. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant demonstrated to be the owner of trademark rights in the name “Lloyds bank”.
The trademark LLOYDS BANK is reproduced in its entirety in the disputed domain name, in combination with the TLD “.brussels”, which is disregarded for purposes of assessment under the first element.
Under the circumstances, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainants’ mark.
The condition required under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy is thus fulfilled.
b. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Under the Policy, the Complainant must show a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests over the disputed domain name. The burden of proof then shifts to the Respondent.
In the present case, the Respondent has pointed the disputed domain name to a web page featuring sponsored links to several other online locations. According to the evidence on file, the businesses listed on this web page are either referring to services provided by the Complainant or by some of its competitors or other unknown third parties.
The Complainant has sufficiently evidenced that its trademark is widely known and that the LLOYDS BANK brand is well known in the general public.
Consequently, even if the sponsored links do not all relate to other businesses providing financial services like the Complainant, it seems obvious to this Panel that the Respondent chose a domain name containing the trademark of the Complainant with the aim to misleadingly divert Internet users to other commercial sites and to take advantage of the notoriety of the Complainant’s brand. Such use cannot be considered bona fide or a non-commercial use of the disputed domain name.
Furthermore, the Complainant has not granted any license or authorization to the Respondent to use its mark in any manner, nor is there an affiliation between the Complainant and the Respondent to justify the use of the Complainant’s mark by the Respondent.
In addition, the Respondent has not disputed the facts as presented by the Complainant and there is no evidence before the Panel to suggest that the Respondent either is commonly known by the disputed domain name or is operating a business or any other organization under the disputed domain name.
For these reasons, the Panel finds that the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, which the Respondent has not rebutted.
The second condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is therefore fulfilled.
c. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The record shows that the Complainant is active and well-known in relation to financial services and that it has an extensive presence on the Internet notably through its official web site “www.lloydsbank.com”.
Furthermore, the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s trademark.
It is therefore very unlikely that the Respondent could have been unaware of the trademark LLOYDS BANK and of the Complainant’s web site “www.lloydsbank.com” when registering the disputed domain name (Heineken Brouwerijen B.V. v. Mark Lott, WIPO Case No. D2000-1487).
The Respondent uses the disputed domain name to advertise sponsored links which include links to services provided by competitors of the Complainant.
The fact that the disputed domain name comprises the Complainant’s trademark in its entirety, without any other element, with the extension “.brussels” which is a major European capital city where one assumes that the Complainant is represented, obviously gives to the Internet users the false impression that the Respondent would be officially linked and approved by the Complainant and/or that an official presence of the Complainant will be created under the disputed domain name in the future.
The Panel considers that the risk for the Internet user to be confused as to the origin and ownership of the disputed domain name is thus very high.
Furthermore, as underlined by the Complainant, one cannot think of a legitimate way for the Respondent to be using the disputed domain name considering the facts at hand.
Finally, the Respondent has at no stage of these proceedings objected to the Complainant’s allegations.
Considering the above, the Panel concludes that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The third condition of paragraph 4(a) the Policy is thus established.
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 <lloydsbank.brussels> be transferred to the Complainant.
Theda König Horowicz
Date: August 11, 2015