WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

AB Electrolux v. Obshchestvo s ogranichennoj otvetstvennostyu “Media A”

Case No. D2017-1673

1. The Parties

The Complainant is AB Electrolux of Stockholm, Sweden, represented by SILKA Law AB, Sweden.

The Respondent is Obshchestvo s ogranichennoj otvetstvennostyu “Media A” of Moscow, Russian Federation.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <electrolux.world> is registered with RU-CENTER-MSK (Regional Network Information Center, JSC dba RU-CENTER) (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 29, 2017. On August 30, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 1, 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, and informing the Center that the language of the Registration Agreement for the disputed domain name is Russian. On September 6, 2017, the Center sent an email communication to the Parties in both English and Russian regarding the language of the proceeding. On September 7, 2017, the Complainant requested that English be the language of the proceeding. The Respondent did not reply to the Center’s notification and to the Complainant’s submission on the language of the proceeding.

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 September 13, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 3, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 10, 2017.

The Center appointed Assen Alexiev as the sole panelist in this matter on October 20, 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.

In respect of the language of the proceedings, the Panel notes the following. According to the information provided by the Registrar, the language of the registration agreement for the disputed domain name is Russian. Under paragraph 11 of the Rules, unless otherwise agreed by the Parties, or specified otherwise in the registration agreement, the language of the administrative proceeding shall be the language of the registration agreement, subject to the authority of the Panel to determine otherwise, having regard to the circumstances of the administrative proceeding.

The Complainant has submitted its Complaint in the English language, and has requested the proceeding to be held in English. The Center has sent all its messages to the Respondent in both English and Russian, and has invited the Respondent to express its views on the language of the proceeding. The Respondent has refrained from doing so, and has thus not objected to the Complainant’s request the proceedings to be held in English.

In these circumstances, it appears to the Panel that using the English language in this proceeding will be fair and efficient and will not put either of the parties at a disadvantage. Therefore, in exercise of its powers under paragraph 11 of the Rules, the Panel decides that the language of this administrative proceeding will be English. At the same time, the Panel will take into account all evidence in the case file available in English or Russian languages.

4. Factual Background

Complainant is a Swedish joint stock company founded in 1901. It is a global manufacturer of household appliances and appliances for professional use under the brands Electrolux, AEG, Zanussi and Frigidaire, and sells more than 60 million products to customers in more than 150 markets every year.

The Complainant is the owner of the international trademark ELECTROLUX, with registration No. 836,605, registered on March 17, 2004 for goods and services in International Classes 3, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 21, 25, 35, 37 and 39, registered for a number of jurisdictions including the Russian Federation (the “ELECTROLUX trademark”).

The Complainant has registered and uses for its business the domain names <electrolux.com> registered on April 30, 1996, and <electrolux.ru>, registered on July 2, 1998.

The disputed domain name was registered on February 1, 2017. It resolves to a Russian language website that offers the Complainant’s products for sale.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name reproduces the Complainant’s ELECTROLUX trademark in its entirety, and is therefore confusingly similar to this trademark.

According to the Complainant, the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant and has not been authorized by the Complainant to register and use domain names incorporating the ELECTROLUX trademark. The Respondent is not commonly known as “electrolux.world”, and is not an authorized distributor of the Complainant. The website at the disputed domain name misleadingly indicates that it is an “Electrolux Official website online store in Russia”.

Prior to the filing of this Complaint, the Complainant sent a cease and desist letter to Respondent, pointing out that the disputed domain name was identical to Complainant’s ELECTROLUX trademark and requesting the cessation of use and the transfer of the disputed domain name to Complainant. The Respondent failed to respond to the cease and desist letter and to assert any legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.

The disputed domain name was registered many years after Complainant’s ELECTROLUX trademarks were registered, and long time after they acquired the status of “well-known” brand. This, coupled with the content of the website at the disputed domain name, indicates that the Respondent was clearly aware of the Complainant’s business, its services and products, at the time of registration of the disputed domain name.

According to the Complainant, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s ELECTROLUX trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s website and of the products offered on the Respondent’s website. The website at the disputed domain name features the official logo of ELECTROLUX and indicates that it is an “Electrolux Official website online store in Russia © 2017”, giving the false impression to Internet users that the Respondent is an approved provider or distributor of Complainant’s products in the Russian Federation. Thus, the Respondent attempts to trade off the goodwill of the Complainant’s name and trademark, in order to divert Internet traffic to its website.

The Complainant also notes that the prices of the products offered on the website at the disputed domain name are significantly higher than the prices for the original ELECTROLUX products offered by the Complainant’s authorized distributors in the Russian Federation.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

Pursuant to the Policy, paragraph 4(a), the Complainant must prove each of the following to justify the transfer of the disputed domain name:

(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; and

(iii) the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.

In this case, the Center has employed the required measures to achieve actual notice of the Complaint to the Respondent, in compliance with the Rules, paragraph 2(a), and the Respondent was given a fair opportunity to present its case.

By the Rules, paragraph 5(c)(i), it is expected of a respondent to: “[r]espond specifically to the statements and allegations contained in the complaint and include any and all bases for the Respondent (domain name holder) to retain registration and use of the disputed domain name…”

In this proceeding, the Respondent has not used the opportunity provided to it under the Rules and has not submitted a Response addressing the contention of the Complainant and the evidence submitted by it.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant has provided evidence and has thus established its rights in the ELECTROLUX trademark.

The Panel notes that a common practice has emerged under the Policy to disregard in appropriate circumstances the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) section of domain names for the purposes of the comparison under the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i). The Panel sees no reason not to follow the same approach here, so it will disregard the “.world” gTLD” section of the disputed domain name.

The relevant part of the disputed domain name is therefore the element “electrolux”, which is identical to the word element of the ELECTROLUX trademark.

In view of the above, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the ELECTROLUX trademark in which the Complainant has rights.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

While the overall burden of proof in UDRP proceedings is on the complainant, panels have recognized that proving a respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in a domain name may result in the often-impossible task of “proving a negative”, requiring information that is often primarily within the knowledge or control of the respondent. As such, where a complainant makes out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, the burden of production on this element shifts to the respondent to come forward with relevant evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If the respondent fails to come forward with such relevant evidence, the complainant is deemed to have satisfied the second element. See section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).

The Complainant has contended that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, stating that the Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant and has not been authorized by the Complainant to register and use domain names incorporating the ELECTROLUX trademark, that the Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name and is not an authorized distributor of the Complainant. Rather, the Respondent has used the disputed domain name in relation to a website falsely claiming to be an official website of the Complainant in the Russian Federation. Thus, the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

The Respondent has not alleged that is has rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name and has not disputed the Complainant’s allegations in this proceeding. It has not responded to the Complainant’s cease and desist letter either.

The disputed domain name incorporates the ELECTROLUX trademark entirely. This makes it likely that Internet users may regard the disputed domain name as being an official online location of the Complainant for its ELECTROLUX products. This likelihood of confusion is further increased by the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name for a website that claims to be an official website of the Complainant and offers the Complainant’s products for sale.

On the basis of the above, the Panel is satisfied that the Respondent, being well aware of the business of the Complainant, is likely to have registered and used the disputed domain name in an attempt to exploit the popularity of the Complainant and of its ELECTROLUX trademark to attract the attention of Internet users and to mislead them that the disputed domain name and the associated website represent official online locations of the Complainant, without disclosing the lack of any partnership with the Complainant. In the Panel’s view, such conduct does not appear to be legitimate and cannot be regarded as giving rise to rights and legitimate interests of the Respondent.

Therefore, the Panel finds that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy lists four illustrative alternative circumstances that shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith by a respondent, namely:

“(i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have 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 your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or

(ii) you have 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 you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your website or location or of a product or service on your website or location.”

The provisions of paragraph 4(b) of the Policy are without limitation, and bad faith registration and use may be found on grounds otherwise satisfactory to the Panel.

As discussed above, the disputed domain name fully incorporates the ELECTROLUX trademark and is confusingly similar to it. The Respondent does not deny that the disputed domain name is linked to a website falsely claiming to be an official online location of the Complainant and offering the Complainant’s products.

On the basis of the above, and in view of the considerations of the Panel set out in the section related to rights and legitimate interests, the Panel finds that the Respondent is likely to have registered the disputed domain name with knowledge of the Complainant and targeting the ELECTROLUX trademark in an attempt to attract traffic to the disputed domain name and to the associated website by confusing Internet users that they are reaching an official online location of the Complainant. On the basis of the above, the Panel accepts that this conduct of the Respondent represents bad faith registration of the disputed domain name.

The Respondent has not denied that the disputed domain name is being used in connection with a website that claims to be an official website of the Complainant and that offers its products for sale. Such use may confuse Internet users that they are offered the Complainant’s products from an official online location approved by it and that they may expect to receive reliable information and services from an official distributor of the Complainant. In view of this, the Panel accepts that by using the disputed domain name, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the website at the disputed domain name, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s ELECTROLUX trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement by the Complainant of the Respondent’s website and of the products offered at the Respondent’s website. Therefore, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name has been used in bad faith.

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 <electrolux.world> be transferred to the Complainant.

Assen Alexiev
Sole Panelist
Date: November 16, 2017