WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center


Sanofi v. Whois Privacy Protection Foundation

Case No. D2018-0408

1. The Parties

Complainant is Sanofi of Paris, France, represented by Selarl Marchais & Associés, France.

Respondent is Whois Privacy Protection Foundation, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <buyambienonlinegood.com> is registered with Hosting Concepts B.V. d/b/a Openprovider (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 22, 2018. On February 23, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On February 27, 2018, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on March 1, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 21, 2018. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on March 22, 2018.

The Center appointed Michael A. Albert as the sole panelist in this matter on March 27, 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

Complainant Sanofi is a French multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in Paris, France. It is ranked as the world’s fourth largest multinational pharmaceutical company by prescription sales. Sanofi engages in research and development, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical products for sale, principally in the prescription market, though it also develops over-the-counter medication.

The company was originally formed as Sanofi-Aventis in 2004 by the merger of Aventis and Sanofi-Synthélabo. It changed its name to Sanofi in May 2011.

Complainant is a multinational company with locations in more than 100 countries and employing approximately 100,000 people. It made EUR 5.2 billion of research and development investment in 2016, which includes 47 projects in clinical development, 13 of which are at advanced stages. Complainant offers a wide range of patented prescription drugs to treat patients with serious diseases and has leading positions in seven major therapeutic areas, namely cardiovascular, thrombosis, metabolic disorders, oncology, central nervous system, internal medicine and vaccines.

Complainant’s worldwide recognition was further established in the annual “L2 Digital IQ Index: Pharmabrand & Healthcare Providers” worldwide brand survey issued April 18th, 2011 in which it appeared in the “Flash of Genius” section in reference to its promoting patient resources.

In the field of treatment of the central nervous system, Complainant developed and sells throughout the world a drug for the treatment of insomnia under the trademark AMBIEN.

Complainant is the registered owner of the following trademark registrations:

- French trademark number 93456039, for AMBIEN, registered on February 19, 1993 in class 5;

- European Union trademark number 003991999, for AMBIEN, filed on August 17, 2004 and registered on November 28, 2005 in class 5;

- International trademark number 605762, for AMBIEN, registered on August 10, 1993 in class 5, duly renewed and designating Algeria, Germany, Belarus, Benelux, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Egypt, Spain, Russian Federation, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Lichtenstein, Morocco, Monaco, Uzbekistan, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, Saint Marin, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sudan, Switzerland, Ukrainian, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Montenegro, Italia and Serbia; and

- United States of America trademark number 1808770, for AMBIEN, applied on January 5, 1993 and registered on December 7, 1993 in class 5.

Complainant is also the owner of the following domain names:

- <ambien.com> registered on April 12, 2000;

- <ambien.eu> registered on July 2, 2006;

- <ambien.fr> registered on May 30, 2002;

- <ambien.us> registered on April 19, 2002;

- <ambien.net> registered on April 12, 2000;

- <ambien.info> registered on August 24, 2001;

- <ambien.org> registered on April 12, 2000;

- <ambien.mobi> registered on August 2, 2006; and

- <ambien.us> registered on April 19, 2002.

Complainant notes that the above-mentioned trademarks and domain names were registered prior to October 3, 2017, the registration date of the disputed domain name. The disputed domain name resolves to a website selling the products under Complainant’s trademark.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s registered trademarks and domain names. The product Complainant sells under the AMBIEN mark is a well-established sleeping aid. The addition of the terms “buy”, “online” and “good” placed before and after AMBIEN in the disputed domain name, and the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) extension “.com,” are insufficient to alleviate the likelihood of confusion between Complainant’s trademarks and domain names and the disputed domain name; indeed, Complainant contends that the addition of these generic terms only increase the risk of confusion.

Complainant contends that Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests regarding the disputed domain name. Complainant has never licensed or otherwise authorized Respondent to use its marks. Complainant contends that “Whois Privacy Protection Foundation”, the registrant of the disputed domain name as indicated on the WhoIs Database, is not the real registrant. Whois Privacy Protection Foundation is a service provided by the Registrar which allows its clients to register domain names in its name and on behalf of third parties in order to keep the true identity of the registrant secret. Therefore, Respondent does not have any legitimate interests in using the disputed domain name since the name “Whois Privacy Protection Foundation” does not bear any resemblance to the word “ambien.” Further, Respondent is not using the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, so as to confer a right or legitimate interest in it in accordance with paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy.

Lastly, Complainant contends that Respondent was clearly aware of Complainant’s distinctive and well-known AMBIEN mark when registering the disputed domain name. Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to a completing website, by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s mark and company name as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of Respondent’s website or other location, constituting evidence of bad faith.

B. Respondent

Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s distinctive marks. Complainant’s AMBIEN marks are well-known worldwide. The product sold under the AMBIEN mark is a well-established sleeping aid. Numerous prior UDRP decisions have acknowledged its name recognition, including:

- Sanofi v. PrivacyGuardian.org / Aqif Kapartoni, WIPO Case No. D2016-1136;

- Sanofi v. ContactPrivacy.org/viktor Konin, WIPO Case No. D2012-1602;

- Sanofi-Aventis v. Marie Birtel, WIPO Case No. D2011-0694;

- Sanofi-Aventis v. Brian Nagele, WIPO Case No. D2011-0669;

- Sanofi-Aventis v. Max Egozin, WIPO Case No. D2010-1514;

- Sanofi-Aventis v. Marek Cernevic, WIPO Case No. D2010-1331;

- Sanofi-Aventis v. N/A, WIPO Case No. D2009-0705;

- Sanofi-Aventis v. Bobik Marley, Levitra Online Shop Inc., WIPO Case No. D2007-0652;

- Sanofi-Aventis v. Davie Kearney, WIPO Case No. D2006-0861;

- Sanofi-Aventis v. WhoisGuard Protected, WIPO Case No. D2005-1267;

- Sanofi-aventis v. Homen, WIPO Case No. D2005-1040.

The addition of the terms “buy,” “online,” and “good” placed before and after “ambien” in the disputed domain name nor the gTLD extension “.com” do not prevent a find of confusing similarity under the first element.

Accordingly, the Panel finds Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Complainant’s rights in its AMBIEN marks are clearly established by their registration and continued use. Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. There is no relationship between the Parties that would grant such rights. Respondent has modified Complainant’s trademarks for its own use and incorporated them into its domain name without Complainant’s authorization.

In addition, nothing in the record reflects Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name in connection with any bona fide offering of goods or services.

Accordingly, the Panel finds Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Panel finds that is highly implausible that Respondent registered the disputed domain name unaware of Complainant’s rights and reputation. The similarity between the disputed domain name and Complainant’s well-known marks makes it unlikely that Respondent’s registration of a confusingly similar domain name was anything other than an intentional effort to capitalize on, or otherwise take advantage of, the likely confusion with Complainant’s trademark rights.

Moreover, on December 8, 2017, Complainant, through counsel, sent a letter to Respondent by email at the email address listed in the WhoIs details for the disputed domain name, advising Respondent of Complainant’s rights in its AMBIEN marks and demanding that Respondent cease and desist from all use of Complainant’s AMBIEN marks and immediately transfer the disputed domain name to Complainant. Respondent never responded to Complainant’s letter. The fact that Respondent failed to respond to the referenced notice and cease-and-desist demand provides further support suggesting that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. See, America Online, Inc. v. Viper, WIPO Case No. D2000-1198; America Online, Inc. v. Antonio R. Diaz, WIPO Case No. D2000-1460.

Accordingly, the Panel finds Complainant has satisfied the requirements of 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 <buyambienonlinegood.com> be transferred to Complainant.

Michael A. Albert
Sole Panelist
Date: April 10, 2018