WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Krones AG v. Domain Administrator, See PrivacyGuardian.org / Mefe Makina Muhendislik San. Ve Tic. Ltd. Sti.
Case No. D2017-0723
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Krones AG of Neutraubling, Germany, represented by Grünecker Patent Attorneys and Attorneys-at-Law, Germany.
The Respondent is Domain Administrator, See PrivacyGuardian.org of Phoenix, Arizona, United States of America (“United States”) Mefe Makina Muhendislik San. Ve Tic. Ltd. Sti. of Istanbul, Turkey.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <kroneschange.parts> is registered with NameSilo, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 11, 2017. On April 11, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 11, 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 13, 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 April 18, 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 21, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was May 11, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on May 12, 2017.
The Center appointed Alistair Payne, Nicholas Smith and Emre Kerim Yardimci as panelists in this matter on May 30, 2017. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. Each member of 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 machines for the filling and packaging industry and since being founded in 1951 has developed into a leading global manufacturer in the area employing more than 14,400 people and operating through 80 sales and service companies. It sells its packaging and bottling machines under the trade mark KRONES and owns numerous trade mark registrations for this mark around the world including a German trade mark registration DE744834 for this word mark filed on October 12, 1959 and registered on January 19, 1961. The Complainant operates its official website at “www.krones.com” which domain name it registered on February 9, 2000. The Complainant also owns other trade mark registrations for sub-brands relating to its business including a German trade mark registration for TOPMATIC registered in 1977 and for MODULFILL registered in 2009.
The disputed domain name was registered on January 14, 2017. At the date of the Complaint, the Respondent offered spare parts and change parts under the KRONES mark and also under the marks KRONES MODULFILL, and KRONES TOPMATIC.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant submits that it owns various trade mark registrations for its KRONES mark including German trade mark registration DE744834 as noted above. It says that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to this mark and that the additional element “change” and the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.parts” are merely descriptive in that they refer to spare parts and do not distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainant’s mark.
The Complainant says that the Respondent is not an official distributor of the Complainant and is not authorized by the Complainant to use the KRONES mark. Further, it says that the Respondent is not known by the disputed domain name, does not own a KRONES mark and there is no evidence that it has used or made demonstrable preparations to use the disputed domain name in connection with a legitimate noncommercial use.
The Complainant notes that there is no information on the website about any relationship between the Complainant and the Respondent as a genuine re-seller of the Complainant’s products and yet the website attempts to convey the impression that the Respondent sells original spare parts manufactured by the Complainant by repeatedly using the KRONES mark in relation to products and also by using the Complainant’s sub-brands such as KRONES TOPMATIC and KRONES MODULFILL. The Complainant submits that the machine parts offered on the website are not original KRONES products and that parts for competitors’ machines are also offered from the Respondent’s website.
As far as bad faith is concerned the Complainant says that the disputed domain name was registered long after its adoption and first registration of the KRONES mark. It says that the Respondent must have known of its mark and business because the Respondent offers its own products as spare parts/change parts for the Complainant’s machines while trying to evoke the impression of selling spare parts and even uses the Complainant’s sub-brands.
According to the Complainant, the Respondent is not an authorised dealer of the Complainant’s products and is not offering genuine KRONES products and yet is promoting the products it sells as being KRONES products or is trying to promote competitors’ products. The Complainant says this amounts to intentionally attempting to attract for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion or association with the Complainant and the Complainant’s KRONES mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the disputed domain name and the Respondent’s website which amounts to evidence of registration and use in bad faith under the Policy.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant owns various trade mark registrations for its KRONES mark including German trade mark registration DE744834. The disputed domain name wholly incorporates the Complainant’s mark and then includes the common English word “change” before the gTLD “.parts”.
The Complainant’s KRONES mark is distinctive and has primary significance in the disputed domain name. The Panel finds that the inclusion of the word change in the disputed domain name after “Krones” does not distinguish it from the Complainant’s mark. Further, the practice of disregarding the TLD when determining identity or confusing similarity is applied irrespective of the particular TLD. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Jurisprudential Overview 3.0”), paragraph 1.11.2.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s KRONES mark in which it owns registered rights and the Complaint succeeds under the first element of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant asserts that the Respondent is not an official distributor of the Complainant and is not authorized by the Complainant to use the KRONES mark. Further it says that the Respondent is not known by the disputed domain name, does not own a KRONES mark and there is no evidence that it has used or made demonstrable preparations to use the disputed domain name in connection with a legitimate noncommercial use.
At the time of filing the Complaint the disputed domain name resolved to a website that appeared to be operated by the Respondent and which offered for sale both “Krones” spare parts and the parts of various other suppliers. The Panel notes that this website has subsequently disappeared but that the Complainant has put various website extracts in evidence in these proceedings. The Complainant submits that the “Krones” products advertised at that time on the website at the disputed domain name were not the Complainant’s products and were fake products.
In the absence of any response to these allegations the Panel is inclined to accept the Complainant’s submissions, including its assertion that the “Krones” products available on the website at the disputed domain name were fake and therefore that the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name is not legitimate. However even if the Respondent had disputed that the advertised products were fake, the Panel finds that the Respondent’s use of the Complainant’s mark in the disputed domain name does not in any event amount to bona fide use in terms of the analysis from Oki Data Americas, Inc. v. ASD, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2001-0903.
In that case the panel set out four minimum factor requirements in helping to decide whether a respondent is making a bona fide use of a disputed domain name, or not:
“Respondent must actually be offering the goods or services at issue. E.g. World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. v.Ringside Collectibles, WIPO Case No. D2000-1306 (January 24, 2001) (respondent failed to show demonstrable preparations to use the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering);
- Respondent must use the site to sell only the trademarked goods; otherwise, it could be using the trademark to bait Internet users and then switch them to other goods. Nikon, Inc. v. Technilab, WIPO Case No. D2000-1774 (February 26, 2001) (use of Nikon-related domain names to sell Nikon and competitive cameras not a legitimate use); Kanao v. J.W. Roberts Co., Case No. 0109 (CPR July 25, 2001) (bait and switch is not legitimate);
- The site must accurately disclose the registrant’s relationship with the trademark owner; it may not, for example, falsely suggest that it is the trademark owner, or that the website is the official site, if, in fact, it is only one of many sales agents. E.g., Houghton Mifflin Co. v. Weatherman, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2001-0211 (April 25, 2001) (no bona fide offering where website's use of Complainant's logo, and lack of any disclaimer, suggested that website was the official Curious George website); R.T. Quaife Engineering v. Luton, WIPO Case No. D2000-1201 (November 14, 2000) (no bona fide offering because domain name <quaifeusa.com> improperly suggested that the reflected site was the official U.S. website for Quaife, an English company; moreover, respondent’s deceptive communications with inquiring consumers supported a finding of no legitimate interest); Easy Heat, Inc. v. Shelter Prods., WIPO Case No. D2001-0344 (June 14, 2001) (no bona fide use when respondent suggested that it was the manufacturer of complainant’s products);
- The Respondent must not try to corner the market in all domain names, thus depriving the trademark owner of reflecting its own mark in a domain name. Magnum Piering, Inc. v. Mudjackers, WIPO Case No. D2000-1525 (January 29, 2001) (‘a single distributor is extremely unlikely to have a legitimate interest in precluding others from using numerous variants on a mark’).”
In this case it is apparent from the website extracts on the record that there is no disclaimer or note on the website at the disputed domain name disclosing the lack of a relationship, or otherwise, of the website and the products advertised on it to the Complainant. In fact, it is apparent that the Respondent sought to make the website give the impression as much as possible that it was associated with or affiliated to the Complainant or had some endorsement to sell the real “Krones” products. Moreover, in the Panel’s view the gTLD “.parts” in conjunction with the Complainant’s KRONES mark and the word “change” only serves to heighten the likelihood of Internet users incorrectly assuming that the disputed domain name has some association with the Complainant and being confused as a result. Secondly, it is clear that the Respondent has offered competitors’ products for sale on the website at the disputed domain name. As a result, the Oki Data factors have not been met and the Respondent cannot be said to have made a bona fide use of the disputed domain name.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has made out its case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name and the Complaint succeeds under this element of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The disputed domain name was registered on January 14, 2017, long after the Complainant first registered its KRONES mark in 1959. Considering the degree to which the website at the disputed domain name used both the KRONES mark and the KRONES MODULFILL and KRONES TOPMATIC sub-brands there is no question that the Respondent was very well aware of the Complainant’s mark and products at the time of registration of the disputed domain name. In view of the use made of the disputed domain name to resolve to a website that appears to masquerade as selling the Complainant’s products and of having some association with the Complainant when this was not the case (as further described below) there is a very strong inference that the disputed domain name was registered with knowledge and in bad faith.
At the time of filing of the Complaint the website at the disputed domain name featured detailed advertisements for various “Krones” spare parts and in addition featured advertisements for parts supplied by other manufacturers. It is apparent that the Respondent has used the disputed domain name incorporating the Complainant’s KRONES mark in order to attract Internet users to the website at the disputed domain name with a view to advertising and selling either the “Krones” products or other manufacturers’ products advertised at its site. This is use in terms of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy and amounts to evidence of the Respondent’s registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith.
As a result, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name was registered and has been used in bad faith and the Complaint succeeds under the third element 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 <kroneschange.parts> be transferred to the Complainant.
Emre Kerim Yardimci
Date: June 12, 2017