WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
The Kraft Heinz Foods Company v. WhoisGuard Protected / WhoisGuard, Inc., NATHAN COLE, NATHANCOLE
Case No. D2016-2103
1. The Parties
The Complainant is The Kraft Heinz Foods Company of Chicago, Illinois, United States of America (“United States”), represented internally.
The Respondent is WhoisGuard Protected / WhoisGuard, Inc. of Panama / NATHAN COLE, NATHANCOLE of Bengaluru, India.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <kraftheinzcompany-us.com> is registered with eNom, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 14, 2016. On October 17, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 18, 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 October 20, 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 October 24, 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”).
In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on October 31, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 20, 2016. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 21, 2016.
The Center appointed Adam Samuel as the sole panelist in this matter on November 23, 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 food and drinks company which markets its products through a number of domain names, notably <kraftheinzcompany.com>, registered on March 24, 2015.
The Complainant’s affiliate companies own a number of trademarks in a variety of countries for both KRAFT and HEINZ, including United States of America, Registration No. 554187 for KRAFT which was registered on January 29, 1952 and is owned by Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC and United States of America, Registration No. 31048 for HEINZ which was registered on December 28, 1897 and is owned by H. J. Heinz Company Corporation. These companies are affiliates of the Complainant.
The disputed domain name was registered on August 29, 2016. The website at the disputed domain name is inactive.
5. Parties’ Contentions
These are the Complainant’s contentions.
In September 2016, the Respondent emailed Internet users without the Complainant’s authority demanding payment for the sale of non-existent products, using fake contracts and invoices printed on paper feature the Complainant’s logo and counterfeit company seals using the name of the Complainant’s Chief Operating Officer. The emails, using an email address linked to the disputed domain name, referred recipients to the Complainant’s website.
The Complainant’s affiliates own trademark registrations for the names HEINZ and KRAFT. The disputed domain name incorporates both names which remain the dominant or principal component of the disputed domain name.
The Respondent does not use the disputed domain name in connection with any goods of its own and has not been commonly known by the disputed domain name.
The trademarks HEINZ and KRAFT are widely known worldwide. The Respondent knew of the Complainant’s affiliate companies’ rights with respect to these trademarks. There is no conceivable legitimate reason for the Respondent to register the disputed domain name.
The Respondent used the disputed domain name for the purpose of defrauding unsuspecting Internet users by diverting their business for commercial gain.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Under the Policy, the Complainant must prove that:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which it 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.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name consists of the HEINZ and KRAFT trademarks, a hyphen, the letters “us” (presumably denoting the United States of America where the Complainant’s head office is located), and the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com”. The predominant feature of the disputed domain name is the two trademarks. They are currently owned by affiliates of the Complainant. The Panel finds that the Complainant has the right to use these marks and thus has rights in these marks for purposes of the Policy. For all these reasons, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the trademarks in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent is not called “Kraftheinz” or anything similar. There is no evidence that the Complainant or its affiliates have ever authorized the Respondent to use the trademarks HEINZ and KRAFT. For these reasons, and in the absence of any response on this point, notably one contradicting the Complainant’s claim that the Respondent has never been connected to it in any way, the Panel concludes that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In September 2016, the Respondent appears to have been negotiating with and demanding payment from one of the Complainant’s actual or potential customers by impersonating the Complainant’s Chief Operating Officer, using an email address connected to the disputed domain name.
The Complainant’s documentary evidence of the email exchanges shows that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name less than a month prior to the incident concerned. This supports the view that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in order to defraud the Complainant’s customers and then attempted to do so. This demonstrates registration and use in bad faith for purposes of the Policy.
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 <kraftheinzcompany-us.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: November 28, 2016