WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
AXA SA v. Riolen Padios
Case No. D2015-1987
1. The Parties
The Complainant is AXA SA of Paris, France, represented by Selarl Candé - Blanchard - Ducamp, France.
The Respondent is Riolen Padios of Iloilo, Philippines, self-represented.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <axaxu.com> (the "Domain Name") is registered with Wild West Domains, LLC (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on November 3, 2015. On November 3, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On November 3, 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.
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 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on November 17, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 7, 2015. The Response was filed with the Center on November 19, 2015.
The Center appointed Michelle Brownlee as the sole panelist in this matter on December 16, 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 owns United States Trademark Registration Number 2072157, International Registration Number 490030, Community Trade Mark Registration Numbers 373894 and 8772766, and French trademark registration number 1270658 for the marks AXA and AXA and design in connection with insurance and financial services and other related services.
The Domain Name was registered on September 4, 2012.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant is the holding company for a group of related companies known as the AXA Group. The Complainant has been using its AXA trademark and trade name since 1985. The AXA Group is famous for its activities in three lines of business: property and casualty insurance, life insurance and savings, and asset management for individuals and businesses. The AXA Group employs 161,000 people worldwide, and is a world leader in insurance, savings and asset management, serving 103 million customers. The AXA Group is present in 59 countries and does business in diversified geographic regions and markets across Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America. The Complainant contends that it enjoys a worldwide reputation.
The Complainant argues that the Domain Name reproduces the AXA trademark in its entirety being confusingly similar to its AXA trademark, that the Respondent has no rights to or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name, and that the Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith. The Respondent is using the Domain Name in connection with a site that states that the Domain Name is for sale and has links to a web site with advice on how to improve one's libido. The Complainant sent a cease and desist letter to the Respondent, and the Respondent responded with an email that said "Is there any person in your organization that we can talk to. As of now, your mail seems just like a canned text that is sent randomly." The Complainant sent a second email assuring the Respondent that the first email did originate from the Complainant. The Respondent responded: "I think that when confronting us with a far-reaching request as you do, it would be appropriate that the identity of the requesting party can be verified. Telling us that we should rest assured will not suffice. After all, you demand that we surrender property in your favor." The Complainant contends that because the Complainant's web site states that the Domain Name is for sale and because the Complainant's AXA trademark is so well-known, the Respondent's registration and use of the Domain Name is in bad faith.
The Respondent argues that it is just a coincidence that the Domain Name includes the letters AXA, and he lists many words in a number of different languages that include the letters AXA. He states that "axaxu" is a Croatian word for a vacation home. The Respondent distinguishes this case from the one relied upon by the Complainant because he says that "axaxu" is not a case of pairing the AXA trademark with descriptive words or use of the letters AXA alone with a top level domain where Internet users would be likely to recognize AXA as an independent word. Rather, he argues that Internet users would be likely to view the second level of the Domain Name as a word without any connection to the AXA trademark.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy provides that in order to be entitled to a transfer of a domain name, a complainant must prove the following three elements:
(1) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
(2) the respondent has no rights to or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy states that the following circumstances are evidence of registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:
"(i) circumstances indicating that the respondent has registered or acquired the domain name at issue primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) the respondent 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 respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) the respondent has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, the respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its web site or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of its web site or location or of a product or service on its web site or location."
The Complainant has not persuaded the Panel that the Respondent targeted the Complainant's trademark in the Respondent's registration and use of the Domain Name. The Complainant did provide evidence that its mark is well-known on a global basis. However, the Complainant's mark consists of a very short letter string that can be included in other words. The Respondent has alleged that the word "axaxu" is a Croatian word for vacation home, and the Panel has verified through an Internet search that there are numerous Croatian real estate listings that use this term.1 The Complainant argues that people who view the Domain Name are likely to believe that it consists of its AXA trademark paired with a term that "sounds Asiatic, or more particularly Chinese," but did not offer any explanation of the meaning of the term "xu" nor any explanation regarding why people would be more likely to view "xu" as a word paired with AXA rather than viewing "axaxu" as a term with independent meaning. Further, the Respondent has not used the Domain Name in any way that suggests a connection to the Complainant. Based on the evidence that was presented, the Panel finds that the Complainant has not established the Respondent's bad faith in registering and using the Domain Name by a preponderance of the evidence. Because of this finding, the Panel declines to address the issues of confusing similarity and rights or legitimate interests.
For the foregoing reasons, the Complaint is denied.
Date: January 11, 2016
1 The Panel notes that the Internet search also revealed that "Axaxu" is a first name that showed up in several individuals' pages on the web site "www.facebook.com".