WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Allianz SE v. Whoisguard Protected, Whoisguard, Inc. / Penang Group, Penang Finance Group / Nelson Walleys
Case No. D2018-0299
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Allianz SE of Munich, Germany, internally represented.
The Respondent is Whoisguard Protected, Whoisguard, Inc. of Panama / Penang Group, Penang Finance Group of Rolling Meadows, Illinois, United States of America (“United States”) / Nelson Walleys of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <allianz-offshore.com> (the first disputed domain name) and <allianz-ofshore.com> (the second disputed domain name) are registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 9, 2018. On February 9, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On February 9, 2018, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain names which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on February 12, 2018, 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 February 15, 2018.
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 February 28, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 20, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 21, 2018.
The Center appointed Desmond J. Ryan as the sole panelist in this matter on March 29, 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 Complainant is the parent company of a large group of insurance, healthcare, and financial services companies trading under the name and trade mark ALLIANZ. It traces its origins back to its foundation in Berlin in 1890 and its international operations from the opening of its London office in 1893. It currently claims to have approximately 85 million customers spread over more than 70 countries. It is one of the world’s largest asset managers with third party assets of EUR 1.276 billion under management. In 2017, the Complainant’s ALLIANZ trade mark was assigned an Inter-Brand value in excess of USD 10 billion. The Complainant has a comprehensive portfolio of registrations of the trade mark ALLIANZ throughout the world including, for example, European registrations dating from 1979 and United States of America registrations dating from 1999. See e.g., trade mark registration no. 987481 for ALLIANZ, registered in Germany on November 7, 1979; and international trade mark registration no. 714618 for ALLIANZ, registered May 4, 1999. Through its IT affiliate, the Complainant owns several top level and country code domain names comprising the trade mark ALLIANZ.
The Complainant’s rights and reputation in its name and trade marks have been recognized in several prior decisions under the Policy and in judicial and trade mark opposition proceedings.
The WhoIs record for the disputed domain names gives different registrant name and contact particulars for each of the disputed domain names. The registrant for the first disputed domain name is shown as “Penang Group” of Rolling Meadows, Illinois, United States and that shown for the second disputed domain name is shown as “Nelson Walleys” of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States. The Panel notes that Written Notice of the Complaint could not be delivered to either of these named registrants at their respective indicated address.
The disputed domain names do not currently resolve to an active website but as discussed below each has been used as an email address for correspondence bearing reproductions of the Complainant’s trade mark and logo and purporting to be from an employee of the Complainant.
The Complainant seeks consolidation of its Complaint into a single Complaint on the grounds set out in paragraph 5A below.
5. Parties’ Contentions
In support of its request for consolidation of the Complaint against the separately named Respondents, the Complainant advances the following submissions and evidence:
(i) The Panel has discretion under the power conferred by paragraph 10(e) of the Rules to accept a consolidated complaint.
(ii) That discretion may be exercised where there is evidence that the respective domain names are subject to common control. The following facts are indicative of common control:
(a) Both domain names were registered via the same Registrar;
(b) Both domain names used the same privacy service to hide the identity of the registrant;
(c) Both domain names have an identical naming pattern, with the difference between them of only a single letter, and have the same meaning;
(d) The disputed domain names were registered within five days of one another;
(e) The same personal name appears in emails sent via accounts at each disputed domain name, namely “Stan Van Wildrich”;
(f) In these circumstances, consolidation would be fair and equitable to all parties and procedurally efficient.
As to the substantive issues, the Complainant submits the following:
The Complainant has established registration rights in respect of the trade mark ALLIANZ and has a long established and widely recognized reputation in that trade mark. The disputed domain names each differ from the incorporated trade mark only by the addition of the descriptive expression “offshore” (incorrectly spelt as “ofshore” in the case of the second disputed domain name) and Internet users will recognize the Complainant’s famous corporate name and trade mark in the disputed domain names.
The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names. The Respondent holds no trade mark registrations of any ALLIANZ mark and has never received a license, authorization, or consent from the Complainant to use that trade mark in the disputed domain names.
The Respondent’s use of the disputed domain names is trading off the fame of the Complainant’s mark, is exploiting the good name of the Complainant, and is a “free-rider” and fraudster. The Respondent has not used the disputed domain names in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services and is not commonly known by the domain name. The Respondent’s use of the disputed domain names has been to attempt to persuade an Australian resident to provide personal identification details including contact details and copies of a passport and a utilities bill.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
On the evidence submitted by the Complainant and set out in section 5 above, the Panel considers it more likely than not that the disputed domain names are subject to common ownership or at least common control. The Respondent had the opportunity to rebut the Complainant’s allegations but did not do so. In the Panel’s opinion consolidation is fair and equitable to all Parties and is administratively efficient.
The Panel therefore accepts the consolidated Complaint and proceeds to decide the matter on that basis, using the term “Respondent” to refer to the person, howsoever described, who is the registrant of each of the disputed domain names in the WhoIs for that domain name.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has provided evidence of well-established registration and reputational rights in the trade mark ALLIANZ. The disputed domain names differ only from that trade mark by the addition of, in the case of the first disputed domain name, the word “offshore” and in the case of the second domain name, the same word misspelt as “ofshore”. The Complainant’s ALLIANZ trade mark is the first word in the word string comprising each of the disputed domain names and is the essential and distinctive part of each of them. The Panel therefore finds that each of the disputed domain names is substantially identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has established a strong prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in either of the disputed domain names. The Complainant asserts that it has not licensed or authorised the Respondent to use either of the disputed domain names, there is no evidence that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain names and the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain names has been for commercial gain, and as more fully discussed below, the Complainant has provided evidence that the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain names has been in an attempt to fraudulently derive commercial gain.
The Respondent has not attempted to rebut the Complainant’s evidence and assertions. The Panel therefore finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant has produced overwhelming evidence that its name and trade mark is well and widely known. The only readily conceivable reason why the Respondent would attempt to register domain names including the Complainant’s distinctive name and trade mark would be to profit from the reputation attaching to it. The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain names were each registered in bad faith.
The evidence provided by the Complainant shows that the Respondent has used each of the disputed domain names in an attempt to obtain from a resident in Australia personal details and to persuade her to execute a power of attorney under the apparent pretext of establishing an account for the deposit of monies. It is difficult to imagine a more blatant attempt to perpetrate a fraud.
In the process of this deception the Respondent reproduced the Complainant’s trade mark and logo and has attempted to impersonate members of the Complainant’s staff.
The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain names have also been used in bad faith.
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 names <allianz-offshore.com> and <allianz-ofshore.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Desmond J. Ryan AM
Date: April 17, 2018