WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
LR Health & Beauty Systems GmbH v. Charalampos Daniilidis
Case No. D2017-2117
1. The Parties
The Complainant is LR Health & Beauty Systems GmbH of Ahlen, Germany, represented by Jonas Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH, Germany.
The Respondent is Charalampos Daniilidis of Nicosia, Cyprus.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <iamlr.com>, <ichbinlr.com>, <lrakadimia.com>, <lr1221.com>, and <lr300.com> (the “Disputed Domain Names”) are registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 30, 2017. On October 30, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On October 31, 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 November 13, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 3, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 6, 2017.
The Center appointed Nick J. Gardner as the sole panelist in this matter on December 21, 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 German company. It is a direct sales enterprise which, since its foundation in 1985 successfully distributes dietary supplements, care products, cosmetics, perfumes and jewelry. It does so under and by reference to the trademark “LR”. Its products are sold by what the Complainant describes as “independent business partners”. These are typically individuals who use this activity often on a part time basis to earn additional income. Some of them develop this business to a full time occupation and set up their own business structures. The Complainant has thousands of such independent business partners worldwide. The Panel uses the term “independent business partner” in this decision to refer to such persons.
One of the Complainant’s particular concerns is to optimally support its independent business partners. Therefore the Complainant founded the “LR Academy” through which the Complainant offers target-oriented training systems, top speakers and comprehensive knowledge transfers with the objective of promotion and to provide all participants with detailed know-how necessary for their personal success.
The Complainant has various trademark registrations for the letters LR in stylized form, for example German trademark no. 2079005, registered on September 26, 1994. These registrations are referred to below as the “LR trademarks”
The Disputed Domain Names <iamIr.com> and <ichbinlr.com> were registered on October 1, 2017.
The Disputed Domain Names <Irakadimia.com>, <lr300.com> and <lr1221.com> were registered on January 26, 2017.
The Respondent appears to promote himself as a motivational speaker and as a businessman who has been extremely successful in developing direct sales businesses. He has his own website at “www.babisdaniilidis.com”, promoting his business activities. On that website it says “My name is Charalampos Daniilidis popularly known as Babis or Carlo” and in it he describes himself as “Since 1999 the No.1 MLM [multi level marketing] distributor in Greece and Balkan, of all the Companies Worldwide with Network in over 11 Countries.” Part of the “about” section of the website contains sections describing the Respondent’s life story one of which is headed “LR Story & The Secret”. The Complainant says that at one stage the Respondent was one of its “independent business partners” and the Panel infers that this section (which although lengthy is lacking in any real detail and is difficult to follow) documents the Respondent’s career and thoughts at the time of that relationship.
The Disputed Domain Names are used to link to websites by redirection as follows:
<ichbinlr.de> and <iamlr.com> are redirected to “www.babisdaniilidis.com” (above).
<Irakadimia.com> is redirected to “www.babisdaniilidis.net”. This website is in Greek. It contains what appear to be extensive adverts for the Complainant’s range of products and makes use of the Complainant’s LR logo.
<Ir300.com> and <lr1221.com> are redirected to “www.rethinkbemore.com”. This website is also Greek. It contains what appear to be extensive adverts for the Complainant’s range of products and makes use of the Complainant’s LR logo.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant says that each of the Disputed Domain Names is confusingly similar to its LR trademark being a combination of the letters LR with non-distinctive terms – the English words “I am” or the German words “Ich bin” which translate as “I am” or the word “akadamia” (a variant of the word academy) or non-distinctive numbers.
The Complainants say that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the term “LR” and has not been authorised to use that term.
The Complainant says that the Respondent’s registration and use of the Disputed Domain Names is in bad faith as he is seeking to confuse people into thinking his business is connected with or authorised by the Complainant when it is not.
No Response has been filed.
6. Discussion and Findings
The Panel notes that no communication has been received from the Respondent. However given the Complaint and Written Notice were sent to the relevant addresses disclosed by the Registrar then the Panel considers that this satisfies the requirement in paragraph 2(a) of the UDRP Rules to “employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice”. Accordingly, the Panel considers it is able to proceed to determine this Complaint and to draw inferences from the Respondent’s failure to file any Response. While the Respondent’s failure to file a Response does not automatically result in a decision in favor of the Complainant, the Panel may draw appropriate inferences from the Respondent’s default (see, e.g., Verner Panton Design v. Fontana di Luce Corp, WIPO Case No. D2012-1909).
To succeed, in accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must satisfy the Panel in that:
(i) The Disputed Domain Name is identical with 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 Complainant has submitted detailed evidence that it is the owner of the LR trademarks which include the letters “LR”. Each of the trademarks is a device mark but each features prominently as part of the registered device the letters “LR” and in these circumstances the Panel concludes the Disputed Domain Names are each similar to each of the above trademarks. Similarity between a domain name and a device mark which includes words or letters is a readily accepted principle where the words or letters comprise a prominent part of the trademark in question – see for example EFG Bank European Financial Group SA v Jacob Foundation, WIPO Case No. D2000-0036 and Sweeps Vacuum & Repair Centre, Inc. v. Nett Corp, WIPO Case No. D2001-0031. It is established that the addition of a descriptive term (such as here “iam”, “ichbin” and “acadamia” or numbers) to the disputed domain name has little, if any, effect on a determination of legal identity between the domain name and the mark (Quixtar Investments, Inc. v. Dennis Hoffman, WIPO Case No. D2000-0253); furthermore, mere addition of a generic or descriptive term does not exclude the confusing similarity (PRL USA Holdings, Inc. v. Spiral Matrix, WIPO Case No. D2006-0189).
It is also well established that the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”), in this case “.com”, does not affect the Disputed Domain Names for the purpose of determining whether they are identical or confusingly similar. See, for example, Rollerblade, Inc. v. Chris McCrady, WIPO Case No. D2000-0429.
Accordingly the Panel finds that each of the Disputed Domain Names are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark and hence the first condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been fulfilled.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The letters “LR” are simply two letters of the alphabet, which when combined do not form a recognizable word. They could be an acronym for any number of businesses or products. However in the present case it seems clear that the Respondent is using those letters to indicate the Complainant’s business and products. The question is whether he has any right or legitimate interest to do so?
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides a list of circumstances any of which is sufficient to demonstrate that a respondent has rights or legitimate interests in a domain name:
(i) before any notice to the respondent of the dispute, use of, or 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 has been commonly known by the domain name, even if the respondent has acquired no trade mark or service mark rights; or
(iii) the respondent is making a legitimate non-commercial 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.
There is no clear evidence to suggest any of these apply in the present circumstances. The Complainant says it has not authorised, licensed, or permitted the Respondent to register or use the Disputed Domain Names or to use the LR trademark. The Complainant has prior rights in the LR trademark, which precede the Respondent’s registration of the Disputed Domain Names. The Complainant has therefore established a prima facie case that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Names and thereby the burden of production shifts to the Respondent to produce evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Names (see, for example, Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, WIPO Case No. D2000-0624; Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455).
In the present case the Complainant itself says that the Respondent was at one time one of its independent business partners. The Panel does not know if this has any relevance to this issue but no Response has been filed and the Respondent has not put any case in this regard before the Panel. Furthermore, the misleading use to which the Respondent has put the Disputed Domain Names does not assist the Panel in finding that it was acting in a bona fide or legitimate manner. Accordingly the Panel finds the Respondent has no rights or any legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Names and the second condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been fulfilled.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In the present circumstances, the Panel finds that the various websites the Respondent is using and the way that redirection to these websites occurs (see above) is rather confusing and difficult to understand. As best the Panel can understand that the Respondent is using the Disputed Domain Names, all of which include the Complainant’s trademark combined with descriptive or non-distinctive terms to attract traffic to his websites. These websites either promote the Respondent himself as a motivational speaker and developer of direct sales businesses, or seek to sell the Complainant’s products in a way which does not accurately or straightforwardly describe the relationship between the Complaint and the Repsondent. This seems to the Panel to amount to behaviour within paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy (“by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other online 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”). In essence the Respondent is using the Disputed Domain Names which suggest he is authorised by or connected with the Complainant to attract traffic to his own websites, when it would appear that no such authorization or connection exists. It is the case that this analysis is less straightforward than in some other cases given that the Complainant acknowledges that the Respondent was at one stage an independent business partner of the Complainant. However the Panel considers the overall facts and the Respondent’s conduct is such as to raise at least an inference that the registration and use were in bad faith. Given that the Respondent has not filed a Response the Panel considers that this inference has not been rebutted.
As a result the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Names have each been registered and are being used in bad faith. Accordingly the third condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been fulfilled.
For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the disputed domain names <iamlr.com>, <ichbinlr.com>, <lrakadimia.com>, <lr1221.com>, and <lr300.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Nick J. Gardner
Date: January 4, 2018