WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Allianz SE v. Privacy Protection Service INC d/b/a PrivacyProtect.org / Kenneth Harrison
Case No. D2017-0136
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Allianz SE of Munich, Germany, internally represented.
The Respondent is Privacy Protection Service INC d/b/a PrivacyProtect.org of Nobby Beach, Queensland, Australia / Kenneth Harrison of Dublin, Ireland.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <allianzinsurancecomp.com> is registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on January 24, 2017. On January 25, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 26, 2017, 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 January 30, 2017 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 February 3, 2017.
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 February 8, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was February 28, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on March 1, 2017.
The Center appointed Nathalie Dreyfus as the sole panelist in this matter on March 6, 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 is the parent company of the Allianz Group, one of the oldest and largest international insurance and financial services groups in the world. The Complainant provides said services under the trademark ALLIANZ. The Complainant owns numerous ALLIANZ trademarks, inter alia, the European Union Trade Mark ("EUTM") No. 000013656, registered on July 22, 2002, duly renewed. The Complainant also owns the domain names <allianzinsurance.com> and <allianzinsurancecompany.com> via one of its subsidiaries.
The Respondent is an individual person domiciled in Ireland.
The disputed domain name was registered by the Respondent on November 9, 2016. The disputed domain name resolves to a website offering services in competition to those provided by the Complainant.
5. Parties' Contentions
Firstly, the Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its renowned ALLIANZ trademark as it reproduces said trademark in its entirety with the mere addition of the descriptive, generic and non-distinctive words "insurance" and "comp". The Complainant also alleges that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's prior domain names <allianzinsurance.com> and <allianzinsurancecompany.com>.
Secondly, the Complainant puts forward that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. To begin with, the Complainant states that it has at no time consented to the use of its ALLIANZ trademark, or to the registration of any domain name incorporating its ALLIANZ trademark by the Respondent. The Complainant further claims that, to the best of its knowledge, the Respondent is not generally known by the disputed domain name and does not use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.
The Complainant further alleges that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. Firstly, the Complainant claims that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in order to capitalize on the alleged reputation of the ALLIANZ trademark and to prevent the Complainant from adopting the trademark ALLIANZ in a corresponding domain name. Finally, the Complainant alleges that the disputed domain name is being used in bad faith as it is used in connection with (i) a website offering services which are in direct competition with the Complainants' activity and (ii) a fraud scheme aimed at deceiving people into forwarding personal data.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
In the Panel's opinion, the Complainant has demonstrated clear rights to its ALLIANZ trademark. The Panel finds that the disputed domain name incorporates the entirety of the ALLIANZ trademark with the mere addition of the descriptive word "insurance" and the abbreviation "comp", which refers to the word "company". It is well established in prior decisions under the UDRP that the mere addition of descriptive or non-distinctive elements to a trademark in which the complainant has rights is insufficient to avoid a finding of confusing similarity. In the present case, in the Panel's opinion, the words "insurance" and "comp" are clearly non-distinctive and, rather than distinguishing the disputed domain name from the Complainant's trademark, enhance its similarity (See, e.g., Allianz SE v. Well Domains are either owned by us or Client Managed, WIPO Case No. D2008-0535).
For the purposes of the present comparison, the Panel agrees with the well-established view that generic Top-Level Domain ("gTLD") extensions may typically be considered irrelevant in assessing confusing similarity between a trademark and a disputed domain name (See, e.g., Boehringer Ingelheim International GMBH v. Ralf Zinc, WIPO Case No. D2016-1236) and considers the gTLD extension ".com" to be irrelevant in the present case.
The Panel consequently finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's trademark and that the Complainant has satisfied the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant alleges that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
The burden of proof is on the Complainant to demonstrate a prima facie case that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Once the Complainant has made out a prima facie case, the Respondent may then, inter alia, demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name by proving that one of the following circumstances of paragraph 4(c) of the Policy is applicable to the case:
(i) before any notice of the dispute, the Respondent used, or made demonstrable preparations to use the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) the Respondent (as an individual, business, or other organization) has been commonly known by the domain name, even if the Respondent has acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) the Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.
Based on the fact that the Complainant holds numerous registered ALLIANZ trademarks, the Panel deems that the Complainant has proved its earlier and lawful rights in the ALLIANZ trademarks.
Furthermore, the Panel infers from the Respondent's failure to defend himself while given the opportunity under paragraph 4(c) of the Policy that that the Respondent was never granted any right to use the ALLIANZ trademark in relation to the disputed domain name. The Panel therefore finds that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
In light of the above, the Panel therefore considers that the Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant claims that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
Firstly, as the Complainant's ALLIANZ trademark is well known and largely used worldwide, the Panel finds it implausible that the Respondent was unaware of the Complainant's trademark at the time of the disputed domain name's registration. As a result, the Panel finds that the Respondent could not have unintentionally incorporated the Complainant's trademark in the disputed domain name and has registered the disputed domain name in bad faith (See, e.g., Allianz SE v. Privacy Gods, Privacy Gods Limited, WIPO Case No. D2016-0112). Furthermore, the choice of combining the ALLIANZ trademark with the word "insurance" and the abbreviation "comp" within the disputed domain name further indicates that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith (See, e.g., Allianz SE v. Omar Guerrero / 1&1 Internet Inc., WIPO Case No. D2012-2307).
Secondly, it is well-established in prior decisions under the UDRP that use of a disputed domain name in connection with a website offering competing goods to those sold by the complainant under the complainant's trademark, creating confusion as to the endorsement or affiliation of the website under the disputed domain name, constitutes use in bad faith (See, e.g., Six Continent Hotels, Inc v. The Omnicorp, WIPO Case No. D2005-1249). In the present case, the Panel agrees with this view and finds that the disputed domain name was used in connection with competing goods in order to intentionally attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent's website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant's ALLIANZ trademark, leading Internet users to believe that the website is in some way associated with the Complainant. Such use in bad faith appears even more evident to the Panel as the website reproduces the Complainant's trademark. Furthermore, the fact that the Respondent has activated email servers and has been sending letters and emails in order to deceive recipients into communicating personal information is further indication that the disputed domain name is being used in bad faith by the Respondent (See, e.g., Accor v. Shangheo Heo / Contact Privacy Inc., WIPO Case No. D2014-1471).
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) 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 <allianzinsurancecomp.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: March 9, 2017