WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
AXA SA v. Mallik Pavuluri
Case No. D2016-2121
1. The Parties
The Complainant is AXA SA of Paris, France, represented by Selarl Candé - Blanchard - Ducamp, France.
The Respondent is Mallik Pavuluri of Vijayawada, India.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <axalifesciences.com> is registered with ZNet Technologies Pvt Ltd. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 18, 2016. On October 18, 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 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 October 24, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 13, 2016. The Response was filed with the Center on November 12, 2016. The Respondent sent an email to the Center on November 24, 2016 which repeated the material in his Response.
The Center appointed Sir Ian Barker as the sole panelist in this matter on November 24, 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 French corporation and is a holding company formed through the merger of several insurers. It markets its services and products worldwide - notably property and casualty insurance, life insurance and savings, and asset management under the name AXA. That name was adopted in 1985. It has some 103 million customers and employs some 166,000 people worldwide.
The Complainant is the owner, amongst others, of the following trademark registrations:
- International Trademark registration No. 490030 for AXA registered on December 5, 1984, to cover services in classes 35, 36 and 39.
- Indian Trademark registration No. 1247354 for AXA filed on November 3, 2003, to cover services in class 36.
The disputed domain name <axalifesciences.com> was registered on April 23, 2015. Currently a “coming soon” website is related to the disputed domain name.
The Complainant gave the Respondent no permission or license to reflect its trademark in the disputed domain name.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The disputed domain name incorporates entirely the AXA trademark which as itself has no particular meaning and is therefore highly distinctive. That fact alone could create a likelihood of confusion regardless of the addition of any other expressions. The words “life sciences” when added to it increase the likelihood of confusion, given that such words are related to the Complainant’s research fund which conducts research in areas related to environmental life and societal hazards. The Complainant supports top researchers and promotes the dissemination of their discoveries for public debate. The added words suggest to Internet users that the webpage relating to the disputed domain name could be an authorized page of the Complainant’s.
None of the situations set out in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy applies to the Respondent.
The bad faith of the Respondent can be proved because the Complainant’s name is well-known worldwide including in India where the Respondent resides. The Respondent must have known of the fame of the Complainant’s distinctive mark when he registered the disputed domain name. He deliberately attempted to create a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark and services and registered the disputed domain name in bad faith to take predatory advantage of the Complainant’s reputation.
The passive holding by the Respondent of the disputed domain name leads to the conclusion of bad faith use in this case. See Telstra Corporation Ltd v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003. The site has not been used in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services since its registration in April 2015.
The Complainant is involved in life services. The Respondent has registered other domain names without utilizing them. The disputed domain name was registered to prevent the Complainant from reflecting its mark in a corresponding domain name. The decision in Axa SA v. Frank Van, WIPO Case No. D2014-0863 is apposite to this case. The domain name was <axacorporatetrust.com> which was held to be confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark.
The Response and the follow-up email of November 24, 2016 said:
as response to you mail regarding domain <axalifesciences.com>, I want to give complete transparent information from my side.
1. i am not the owner of <axalifesciences.com>
2. i am just a freelancer related to webdesign.
3. i registered that domain only.
4. axalifesciences just with construction page only.
5. if you want I will down that from my panel.
6. there no contact between the owner and me more than one year.
Thanks and Regards,
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 shall prove the following three elements:
(i) The domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights;
(ii) The respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) The domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
To be successful, the Complainant must prove in this administrative proceeding that each of the aforesaid three elements is present (paragraph 4(i) of the Policy).
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has established its rights in the well-known AXA trademark, duly registered in several jurisdictions around the world, including India where the Respondent resides.
The Complainant’s trademark is entirely reproduced in the disputed domain name. The addition of the generic words “life sciences” does not distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainant’s
well-known trademark. The disputed domain name could lead some Internet users into thinking that the corresponding website relates to the Complainant or its research organization. In the case of Axa SA v. Frank Van, supra the add-ons to the trademark could have related to one of the services supplied by the Complainant. A similar situation applies here.
Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy has been established.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant gave the Respondent no authority of any sort to reflect its trademark in the disputed domain name.
This fact and the circumstances of the present case satisfy paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy in the absence of any evidence from the Respondent in his Response.
The Respondent could have claimed that one of the situations envisaged by paragraph 4(c) of the Policy applied to the registration of the disputed domain name, e.g., by invoking paragraph 4(c) of the Policy to the satisfaction of the Panel that one of its three provisions applied in this case. However, the Respondent has chosen not to do so, and the Complainant has met its burden. Its claim that it gave the Complainant no authority is not challenged by the Respondent.
Paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy is satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In the present case, the bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name by the Respondent can be inferred from the following circumstances:
(i) The Complainant’s well-known trademark, which is indeed distinctive since it has no particular meaning, is entirely reproduced in the disputed domain name. The additions made to it are not enough to avoid confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s trademark. The Respondent must have known of the Complainant and its services when he registered the disputed domain name.
(ii) The Respondent has provided no evidence whatsoever of any actual or contemplated good faith use by him of the disputed domain name.
(iii) It is not possible to conceive of any plausible actual or contemplated active use of the disputed domain name by the Respondent that would not be illegitimate, such as by being a passing off or an infringement of the Complainant’s rights under trademark law.
(iv) The Respondent’s passive holding of the disputed domain name in the circumstances of this case points to bad faith registration and use.
The Response does not challenge any of the Complainant’s contentions. The Respondent appears willing to “down that” (i.e. withdraw the website related to disputed domain name).
Considering all circumstances, the Panel finds that paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy is satisfied.
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 <axalifesciences.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Sir Ian Barker
Date: December 1, 2016