WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Alfa Laval Corporate AB v. Chris Bull
Case No. D2017-0826
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Alfa Laval Corporate AB of Lund, Sweden, represented by Advokatbyrån Gulliksson AB, Sweden.
The Respondent is Chris Bull of Blaine, Minnesota, United States of America (the "United States").
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <alfalaval-uk.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 April 25, 2017. On April 25, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 26, 2017, 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 May 5, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was May 25, 2017. The Center received on May 9, 12 and 13, 2017 email communications from a third party stating that the registrant of the disputed domain name has used its home address for the registration of the disputed domain name. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center advised the Parties of the commencement of the panel appointment process on May 29, 2017.
The Center appointed Nathalie Dreyfus as the sole panelist in this matter on June 13, 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 a Swedish company founded in 1907 that produces specialized products and solutions for heavy industry. The Complainant operates under the company name and trademark ALFA LAVAL and under numerous "alfalaval" domain name registrations. As shown by the Complainant in the case file, the trademark ALFA LAVAL is currently protected in numerous territories.
The Respondent is an individual domiciled in the United States.
The disputed domain name <alfalaval-uk.com> was registered by the Respondent on March 31, 2017. It does not resolve to any active website.
5. Parties' Contentions
Firstly, the Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to their renowned ALFA LAVAL trademark as it wholly incorporates said trademark together with the geographical term "uk".
Secondly, the Complainant puts forward that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Complainant states that it has no connection with the Respondent and has at no time consented to the use of their allegedly well-known ALFA LAVAL trademark by the Respondent, nor to the registration of any domain name incorporating said trademark. The Complainant further claims that the Respondent is not using the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services.
Thirdly, the Complainant alleges that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant claims that the Respondent has engaged in a pattern of registering domain names which incorporate third party trademarks. Furthermore, the Complainant puts forth that the Respondent has been trying to impersonate an actual Alfa Laval employee through creation of the email address "[name of the Complainant's employee]@alfalaval-uk.com".
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists three elements that the Complainant must prove in order for the disputed domain name to be transferred:
(i) the disputed 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 disputed domain name;
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the fact that the disputed domain name incorporates Complainant's trademark in its entirety is sufficient to establish confusing similarity for the purposes of the Policy, pursuant to consistent UDRP decisions (see e.g. Oki Data Americas Inc. v. ASD Inc., WIPO Case No. D2001-0903).
In addition, the Panel also concurs with the finding of previous UDRP panels, according to which the use of a complainant's trademark in its entirety together with a geographic term in a domain name creates a domain name that is confusingly similar to the complainant's trademark (see e.g. Playboy Enterprises International, Inc. v. Zeynel Demirtas, WIPO Case No. 2007-0768). In the present case, the Panel finds that the Complainant's trademark is wholly incorporated together with the respective geographical indication "uk" (which is the abbreviation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) in the disputed domain name.
For the purposes of the present comparison, the Panel agrees with the common view under the UDRP 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" of the disputed domain name irrelevant.
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
Based on the fact that the Complainant previously registered several ALFA LAVAL trademarks, the Panel deems that the Complainant has proved their rights in the ALFA LAVAL trademarks and accepts the Complainant's claim that the Respondent had never been granted any right to use the ALFA LAVAL trademark in relation to the disputed domain name. The Panel consequently deems that the Complainant established a prima facie case that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Furthermore, the Panel infers from the Respondent's failure to reply (while given the opportunity under paragraph 4(c) of the Policy) that the Respondent was never granted any right to use the ALFA LAVAL 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.
Based on the evidence submitted in the case file and noting that the disputed domain name does not resolve to an active website, the Panel finds that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name as he is not known under the disputed domain name and is not using the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services.
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 has provided evidence that the disputed domain name has been incorporated in an email address reproducing the name and surname of one of the Complainant's actual employees. The Panel therefore finds that the Respondent necessarily had the Complainant's trademark and company in mind at the time of registration and, consequently, that the disputed domain name was registered by the Respondent in bad faith. Said finding is reinforced by the fact that the Respondent is also the owner of domain names reproducing third party trademarks in various industrial business sectors, and has therefore engaged in a pattern of cybersquatting.
The Panel finds that, where domain names are identical or confusingly similar to prior trademarks, phishing activities must be considered as circumstances evidencing bad faith. In fact, phishing communications received from an email address reproducing a trademark are more misleading to recipients than identical emails received from email addresses unrelated to the same trademark (see e.g. Olayan Investments Company v. Anthono Maka, Alahaji, Koko, Direct investment future company, ofer bahar, WIPO Case No. D2011-0128).
Therefore, it seems that the Respondent registered and has been using the domain name in order to attempt impersonation of the Complainant and to deceive Internet users (see e.g. Accor v. SANGHO HEO / Contact Privacy Inc., WIPO Case No. D2014-1471).
In any event, as the disputed domain name reproduces the Complainant's trademark and has not been used in connection with an active website, the Panel concludes that the Respondent has been passively holding the disputed domain name and, taking into account the circumstances of this proceeding, has been using it in bad faith (see Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003).
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has registered and is using the domain name in bad faith and, therefore, has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii).
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 <alfalaval-uk.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: June 19, 2017