WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Kraft Heinz Foods Company v. Name Redacted
Case No. D2017-0642
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Kraft Heinz Foods Company of Chicago, Illinois, United States of America (“United States” or “US”), internally represented.
The Respondent is Name Redacted.1
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <kraftheizcompany.com> is registered with Ascio Technologies, Inc. Danmark – Filial af Ascio technologies, Inc. USA (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 29, 2017. On March 30, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 3, 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 April 7, 2017, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on April 11, 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 April 13, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was May 3, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on May 4, 2017.
The Center appointed Jonas Gulliksson as the sole panelist in this matter on May 15, 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.
On May 29, 2017, the Panel issued Administrative Panel Procedural Order No. 1, inviting the Complainant to provide additional evidence and allowing the Respondent to submit any comments it may wish to make regarding such a submission by the Complainant. In this regard, the Center received the Complainant’s submission on June 9, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any comments.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Kraft Heinz Company (hereafter referred to as “Kraft Heinz”), which is active within the field of food and beverage production, and the holder – through its corporate affiliates – of the US trademark registrations for, inter alia, HEINZ (registration number 0062182) and KRAFT (registration number 0554187), hereafter referred to as “the Complainant’s trademarks”. The Complainant’s trademarks were registered on April 23, 1907 (HEINZ) and January 29, 1952 (KRAFT).
The disputed domain name was registered on January 31, 2017, and has been used by the Respondent to send emails under the name of the Complainant’s Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”).
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant is a subsidiary of Kraft Heinz, which is the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world. Kraft Heinz’s iconic brands include, among many more, Kraft, Heinz, Jell-O, Kool-Aid andMaxwell House.
The Complainant, through its affiliated companies, owns trademark registrations around the world for the trademarks KRAFT and HEINZ. The Complainant also asserts common law trademark rights in the combined KRAFT HEINZ mark. Furthermore, the Complainant is the owner of the registered domain name <kraftheinzcompany.com>, which was registered on March 24, 2015. The disputed domain name incorporates both the above-mentioned trademarks.
The Respondent does not use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. The Respondent has no website to advertise any goods of his or her own. The Respondent has not been commonly known by the disputed domain name and has not acquired any trademark rights related to the disputed domain name.
The disputed domain name was registered using the name of the Complainant’s Chairman of the Board and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant’s trademarks are widely known and registered worldwide. The Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s trademark rights when registering the disputed domain name, and there is no conceivable legitimate reason for the Respondent to register the disputed domain name.
The Respondent has sent fraudulent email messages, including one purportedly from the Complainant’s CEO, directing one of the Complainant’s employees to arrange an unauthorized cash transfer. To lend legitimacy to its fraudulent messages and signature block, the Respondent also engaged in identity theft by sending one of the emails under the name of the Complainant’s CEO and referring the receiver of the email to the Complainant’s actual website, “kraftheinzcompany.com”. This is prima facie evidence that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires the Complainant to prove all three of the following elements to be entitled to the relief sought: (i) that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; (ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and (iii) that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant is the holder of trademark registrations for, inter alia, KRAFT and HEINZ. The disputed domain name incorporates the Complainant’s trademarks in their entirety, apart from the fact that the letter “n” is missing in “Heinz”, and with the addition of the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com”. According to the well-established consensus among UDRP panels, the gTLD is not distinguishing for the purposes of establishing identical or confusing similarity.
The Panel finds that the differences between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s trademarks are insufficient to avoid a finding of confusing similarity under the first element of the Policy.
In accordance with the findings above, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks within the meaning of the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i), and the first element of the Policy is thus fulfilled.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
In cases when a respondent fails to present a response, the complainant is still required to make at least a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 2.1. Further, paragraph 14(b) of the Rules provides that, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, a panel shall draw such inferences as it considers appropriate from a failure of a party to comply with a provision or requirement of the Rules.
The Complainant has stated that the Respondent has no rights of its own or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, which incorporates the Complainant’s trademarks.
Having considered the submissions of the Complainant, and the absence of a Response from the Respondent, the Panel finds that the Respondent is not connected with the Complainant or authorized to use the Complainant’s trademarks in the disputed domain name. Neither does the Panel find any other indications that the Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name, or that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name for a bona fide offering of goods or services.
In the light of what is stated above, the Panel finds that the Complainant has made a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent has not rebutted this case with appropriate allegations or evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Therefore, the Panel finds that the second element of the Policy is fulfilled.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The disputed domain name was registered on January 31, 2017. This is, for example, more than 100 years after the registration of the Complainant’s trademark HEINZ and more than 50 years after the registration of the KRAFT mark, both referred to under section 4 above. The fact that the Respondent has deliberately chosen a domain name incorporating terms that are nearly identical to the Complainant’s trademarks, and corresponded by email with one the Complainant’s employees shows that the Respondent had knowledge of the Complainant’s prior rights. Furthermore, the evidence provided by the Complainant shows that the Respondent has been using an email address associated with the disputed domain name, and in connection thereto attempted to pass itself off as the CEO for the Complainant. These circumstances strongly support the fact that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
All in all, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The third element of the Policy is thus fulfilled.
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 <kraftheizcompany.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: July 5, 2017
1 The Respondent appears to have used the name of the Complainant’s Chairman of the Board in the registration of the disputed domain name. In light of this potential identity theft, the Panel has redacted the Respondent’s name from the caption and body of this Decision. Attached as Annex 1 to this Decision is the Panel’s instruction to the Registrar regarding transfer of the disputed domain name, including the Respondent’s name. The Panel has authorized the Center to transmit Annex 1 to the Registrar as part of the order in this proceeding, but has indicated that Annex 1 to this Decision shall not be published due to the circumstances of this case.