WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Domain Admin/Whois protection, this company does not own this domain name s.r.o. / Hulmiho Ukolen, Poste restante

Case No. D2016-2575

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Philip Morris USA Inc. of Richmond, Virginia, United States of America ("United States"), represented by Arnold & Porter, United States.

The Respondent is Domain Admin/Whois protection, this company does not own this domain name s.r.o. of Prague, Czechia / Hulmiho Ukolen, Poste restante of Helsinki, Finland.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <mymarlboro.com> is registered with Hebei Guoji Maoyi (Shanghai) LTD aka HEBEI INTERNATIONAL TRADING (SHANGHAI) CO., LTD dba HebeiDomains.com (the "Registrar").

3. Procedural History

The Complaint in English was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on December 19, 2016. On December 20, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On December 26, 2016 and December 29, 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 December 29, 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 in English on January 3, 2017.

On December 29, 2016, the Center sent an email communication to the Parties in English and Finnish regarding the language of the proceeding. On the same day, the Complainant requested an extension to January 6, 2017 to translate the Complaint into Finnish, which was granted by the Center. On January 5, 2017, the Complainant submitted a translated Complaint into Finnish.

The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended Complaint and the translated 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 in English and Finnish of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on January 9, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was January 29, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on January 30, 2017.

The Center appointed Tuukka Airaksinen as the sole panelist in this matter on February 1, 2017. 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 manufactures, markets, and sells cigarettes in the United States. The Complainant is the proprietor of the trademark MARLBORO, registered in inter alia the United States under number 68502 on April 14, 1908.

The disputed domain name was registered on July 21, 2015 and resolves to a pay-per-click website.

5. Parties' Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant has used the trademark MARLBORO since 1883 for cigarettes. The trademark is famous, as determined by numerous prior UDRP panels.

The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's trademark as it incorporates the trademark in its entirety and the mere addition of the word "my" does not distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainant's trademark. The disputed domain name is also a typical domain name that the relevant purchasing public would effect for trademark owners to provide information about their products.

The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent has no affiliation or connection with the Complainant and is not known by the disputed domain name. The Complainant has not authorized the Respondent to use the disputed domain name.

The Respondent has registered the disputed domain name with full knowledge of the Complainant's trademark. The actual registrant is also hiding his true identity by using a privacy proxy. The Respondent is using the disputed domain name in bad faith as it resolves to a so-called pay-per-click website thereby obtaining revenue from the links. Furthermore, the disputed domain name is offered for sale on the website "www.afternic.com" for a price in excess of the Respondent costs in registering the disputed domain name, namely for USD 4,750.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

In order to obtain the transfer of a domain name, a complainant must prove the three elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, regardless of whether the respondent files a response to the complaint. The first element is that the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights. The second element a complainant must prove is that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name. The third element a complainant must establish is that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

A. Language of the proceedings

The language of the proceeding is the language of the registration agreement, unless both parties agree otherwise, or the panel determines otherwise under paragraph 11 of the UDRP Rules.

In this case the registration agreement is in Finnish. The Complainant has provided a Finnish translation of the Complaint and requested that the language of the proceeding be English. The Respondent has not responded to the Center's communication on the language of the proceeding.

The Respondent has had the opportunity to review the Complaint in the language of the registration agreement and has not opposed to English being used as the language of the proceeding. Accordingly, the Panel decides that the language of the proceeding be English.

B. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy requires that the Complainant establishes that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights. Consequently, the Complainant must prove that it has rights to a trademark, and that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to this trademark.

It is well established in decisions under the UDRP that generic Top-Level Domain ("gTLD") indicators (e.g., ".com") may typically be considered irrelevant in assessing confusing similarity between a trademark and a disputed domain name.

The Complainant has shown that is the proprietor of the registered trademark MARLBORO, which is well-known at least for cigarettes as held by many other UDRP panels. The disputed domain name incorporates the Complainant's trademark in its entirety combined with generic word "my". This word is typically used by trademark owners to offer information on their products.

In accordance with paragraph 1.9 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition ("WIPO Overview 2.0"), noting that the disputed domain name consists of the Complainant's trademark along with descriptive words, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's respective trademark and hence the first element of the Policy has been fulfilled.

C. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy requires that the Complainant establishes that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests to the disputed domain name.

The consensus view among UDRP panels is that once a complainant has made a prima facie showing indicating the absence of the respondent's rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name the burden of production shifts to the respondent to come forward with evidence of such rights or legitimate interests. If the respondent fails to do so, the complainant is deemed to have satisfied the second element of the Policy. See, e.g., Document Technologies, Inc. v. International Electronic Communications Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0270 and paragraph 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 2.0.

The Complainant has credibly submitted that the Respondent is not a licensee of the Complainant, nor has it been otherwise allowed by the Complainant to use the Complainant's trademark in a domain name or otherwise. The Respondent has not rebutted these arguments. The Complainant asserts that there are no other circumstances enumerated at paragraph 4(c) of the Policy which are applicable.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has made a prima facie case that has not been rebutted by the Respondent. In light of the Panel's findings below, the Panel finds there are no other circumstances which provide the Respondent with any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

Therefore, the Panel finds that the second element of the Policy is fulfilled.

D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy requires that the Complainant establishes that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides that the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:

"(i) circumstances indicating that [the respondent has] registered or has acquired the domain name 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 [the respondent's] documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or

(ii) [the respondent has] 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 or competitor; or

(iv) by using the domain name, [the respondent has] intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [the respondent's] website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of [the respondent's] website or location or of a product or service on [the respondent's] website or location."

The Panel has above found, in accordance with many other UDRP panels that the Complainant's trademark MARLBORO is a well-known trademark. It is inconceivable that the Respondent would not have been aware of the Complainant's trademark when he registered the disputed domain name.

The disputed domain name resolves to a website offering so-called pay-per-click links, which create revenue to the Respondent or another party. The Respondent has therefore attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant's mark.

The Respondent has also offered the disputed domain name publicly for sale for the price of USD 4,750. This is in valuable consideration in excess of the typical out-of-pocket costs directly related to the disputed domain name.

Based on the above, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. Therefore, the Panel finds that the third element of the Policy has been fulfilled.

7. Decision

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, <mymarlboro.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Tuukka Airaksinen
Sole Panelist
Date: February 15, 2017