WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

“Dr. Martens” International Trading GmbH and “Dr. Maertens” Marketing GmbH v. Petra Wirth

Case No. D2018-0246

1. The Parties

The Complainants are “Dr. Martens” International Trading GmbH of Graefelfing, Germany and “Dr. Maertens” Marketing GmbH of Seeshaupt, Germany, represented by Beetz & Partner, Germany.

The Respondent is Petra Wirth of Stuttgart, Germany.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <drmartensbootssale.net> is registered with 1API GmbH (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 5, 2018. On February 6, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On February 8, 2018, 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 February 16, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 8, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 9, 2018.

The Center appointed Tobias Malte Müller as the sole panelist in this matter on March 13, 2018. 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 Complainants are the registered owners of numerous trademark registrations for “DR. MARTENS”, in particular European Union Trademark number 000059147 registered on March 3, 1999 for goods in class 25 and services in class 35, amongst others.

The Respondent registered the disputed domain name <drmartensbootssale.net> on December 23, 2017. It results from the Complainants’ documented allegations that the website, to which the disputed domain name resolves, contains an online shop, selling footwear and bearing the Complainants’ trademarks.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainants allege that “Dr. Martens” is a famous international brand for footwear, clothing and accessories, particularly renowned for its distinctive shoes and boots, first sold in the late 1950s.
DR. MARTENS footwear, clothing and accessories are available for sale at retailers throughout the world, as well as online at the DR. MARTENS website available under “www.drmartens.com”. According to the Complainants’ undisputed allegations DR. MARTENS has worldwide consumer recognition.

The Complainants contend that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to their trademarks. In particular, the trademark DR. MARTENS is wholly incorporated in the disputed domain name. The mere addition of the elements “boots” and “sale” does not prevent likelihood of confusion in the minds of the relevant Internet users. These terms are rather descriptive since the term “boots” refers to the products available while the term “sale” defines “the action of selling something”.

It further results from the Complainants undisputed contentions that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. In particular, the Respondent has no connection or affiliation with the Complainants and has not received any license or consent to use the Complainants’ mark DR. MARTENS. According to the Complainants’ non-contested allegations, the Respondent uses the disputed domain name for an on-line shop selling footwear and accessories under the DR. MARTENS trademarks. The Complainants further believe this unauthorised site to sell counterfeit products. The Internet user seeing the disputed domain name will believe or be likely to believe that the disputed domain name is registered to, operated or authorized by, or otherwise connected with the Complainants. Thus the Respondent is clearly making illegitimate commercial and unfair use of the disputed domain name for commercial gain to misleadingly divert Internet users and to tarnish the Complainants’ trademarks.

Furthermore, the Complainants contend that the Respondent registered and uses the disputed domain name in bad faith. According to the Complainants’ allegations, the Respondent must have had knowledge of the Complainants trademarks at the time of the disputed domain name’s registration, since DR. MARTENS is widely well-known. The Complainants further contend that the Respondent also intends to mislead consumers on a commercial relationship between the Respondent and the Complainants. Finally, according to the Complainants, by using the disputed domain name, the Respondent intentionally attempts to attract Internet users to its website, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainants’ trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, and endorsement of its website or of the products or services of the Respondent’s website.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs this Panel to “decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable”.

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires the Complainant to prove each of the following three elements in order to obtain an order that the disputed domain name should be transferred or cancelled:

(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainants have rights; and

(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and

(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

The Panel is satisfied that the registrant of record for the disputed domain name is the Respondent and will therefore proceed to analyze whether the three elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are satisfied.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Pursuant to paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy, the Complainants must first of all establish rights in a trademark or service mark and secondly establish that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainants have rights.

It results from the evidence provided that the Complainants are the registered owners of various trademark registrations for the verbal elements “Dr. Martens”. Reference is made in particular to European Union Trademark (word) no. 000059147 DR. MARTENS registered on March 3, 1999 for goods in class 25 and services in class 35, amongst others. This trademark predates the creation date of the disputed domain name which is December 23, 2017.

Many UDRP Panels have found that a disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a complainant’s trademark where the disputed domain name incorporates the complainant’s trademark in its entirety (e.g.,
F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG v. Jason Barnes, ecnopt, WIPO Case No. D2015-1305; Compagnie Générale des Etablissements Michelin v. Christian Viola, WIPO Case No. D2012-2102; Volkswagen AG v. Nowack Auto und Sport - Oliver Nowack, WIPO Case No. D2015-0070; The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford v. Oxford College for PhD Studies, WIPO Case No. D2015-0812; Rhino Entertainment Company v. DomainSource.com, WIPO Case No. D2006-0968; SurePayroll, Inc. v. Texas International Property Associates, WIPO Case No. D2007-0464). This Panel shares this view and notes that the Complainant’s registered trademark DR. MARTENS is fully included in the disputed domain name. The minor variation between the trademark – containing a dot “.” between the two word elements “Dr” and “Martens” – and the disputed domain name – in which the two word elements are written one after the other without any punctuation marks – cannot call into question the above findings.

Furthermore, and according to UDRP panel consensus, the applicable generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) suffix “.net” in the disputed domain name is to be disregarded under the confusing similarity/identity test.

Finally, it is the view of this Panel that the combination of the trademark DR. MARTENS with the terms “boots” and “sale” is not sufficient as to exclude the confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainants’ trademark. These two terms are rather totally applicable as generic terms to the field in which the Complainants play a prominent role, i.e., the selling of boots (see Golden Goose S.p.A. v. Guy Simmons, WIPO Case No. D2017-1404; “Dr. Martens” International Trading GmbH, “Dr. Maertens” Marketing GmbH v. Domain Whois Protection Service / wuqingfeng, WIPO Case No. D2012-1383).

Hence, this Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainants’ trademark DR. MARTENS pursuant to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Pursuant to paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, the Complainant must secondly establish that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.

Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy contains a non-exhaustive list of circumstances which, if found by the Panel to be proved, shall demonstrate the Respondent’s rights or legitimate interests to the disputed domain name. In the Panel’s view, based on the undisputed allegations stated above, the Complainants have made a prima facie case that none of these circumstances are found in the case at hand and, therefore, that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name:

According to the Complaint, which has thus remained unchallenged, the Complainants have not authorized the Respondent’s use of the trademark DR. MARTENS, e.g. by registering the disputed domain name comprising said mark entirely.

Furthermore, the Panel notes that there is no evidence showing that the Respondent might be commonly known by the disputed domain name in the sense of paragraph 4(c)(ii) of the Policy.

Finally, the disputed domain name resolves to a website on which footwear and accessories bearing the Complainants’ trademarks are sold. Since this use is clearly commercial, it cannot be considered a legitimate, noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue pursuant to paragraph 4(c)(iii) of the Policy. Furthermore, such use cannot be qualified a bona fide offering of goods or services in accordance with paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy since it rather has a high propensity to mislead and divert consumers.

It is acknowledged that once the Panel finds such prima facie case is made, the burden of production shifts to the Respondent to come forward with relevant evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Since the Respondent in the case at hand failed to come forward with any allegations or evidence, this Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

The Complainants are therefore deemed to have satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

According to paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, the Complainant must thirdly establish that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. The Policy indicates that certain circumstances specified in paragraph 4(b) of the Policy may, “in particular but without limitation”, be evidence of the disputed domain name’s registration and use in bad faith. One of these circumstances is that the respondent by using the disputed domain name, has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website 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 its website or location or of a product or service on its website or location (paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy).

It is the view of this Panel that these circumstances are met in the case at hand:

The Complainants’ trademarks have existed for a long time and are widely known (see for instance
Dr. Martens International Trading GmbH, Dr. Maertens Marketing GmbH v. Above.com Domain Privacy/Transure Enterprise Ltd, WIPO Case No. D2009-1253). Therefore, it is the view of this Panel that the Respondent knew or should have known that the disputed domain name included the Complainants’
DR. MARTENS trademarks when it registered the disputed domain name. Registration of the disputed domain name in awareness of the reputed DR. MARTENS mark and in the absence of rights or legitimate interests in this case amounts to registration in bad faith (see e.g. KOC Holding A.S. v. VistaPrint Technologies Ltd, WIPO Case No. D2015-1910; The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford v. Oxford College for PhD Studies, WIPO Case No. D2015-0812 and The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford v. Almutasem Alshaikhissa, WIPO Case No. D2014-2100; Deutsche Lufthansa AG v. Mustermann Max, Muster AG, WIPO Case No. D2015-1320).

According to the Complainants’ further non-contested allegations, the disputed domain name resolves to a website advertising and selling products bearing DR. MARTENS trademarks. This website therefore benefits from the confusion arising from the similarities between the disputed domain name and the products offered by the Complainant and purported to be offered by the Respondent. Therefore, it is highly likely that the Respondent received revenue from Internet users who came across the Respondent’s website by means of confusion with the DR. MARTENS trademark (see F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG v. Jason Barnes, ecnopt, WIPO Case No. D2015-1305; The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford v. Almutasem Alshaikhissa, WIPO Case No. D2014-2100; The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford v. Oxford College for PhD Studies, WIPO Case No. D2015-0812). In view of the distinctive quality possessed by the well-known DR. MARTENS trademark, the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name containing that mark combined with two terms that are descriptive for the Complainants’ business is a clear indication of the Respondent’s bad faith (see F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG v. Jason Barnes, WIPO Case No. D2015-1305; Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. v. home, Konstantin Kovalevski, WIPO Case No. D2012-2243).

In the light of the above the Panel finds that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith pursuant to paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

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 <drmartensbootssale.net> be transferred to the Complainants.

Tobias Malte Müller
Sole Panelist
Date: March 27, 2018