WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Allianz SE v. Tim Hok, Tim Hok Co.
Case No. D2018-0892
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Allianz SE of Munich, Germany, internally represented.
The Respondent is Tim Hok, Tim Hok Co. of Banteay, Meanchey Province, Cambodia.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <allianz.bet> is registered with Name.com, Inc. (Name.com LLC) (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 20, 2018. On April 23, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 23, 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. On April 30, the Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint to correct an administrative formality.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to 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 April 30, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was May 20, 2018. On April 27, 2018, the Respondent sent an informal communication to the Center. No formal Response was filed with the Center. The Respondent resubmitted the informal reply on May 26, 2018.
The Center appointed Dennis A. Foster as the sole panelist in this matter on May 30, 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
Founded more than 100 years ago, the Complainant is a large insurance and financial services company with offices and customers throughout Europe and the rest of the world. During its existence, the Complainant has conducted its operations under the mark, ALLIANZ, for which it has obtained registrations with, among others, the German Patent and Trademark Office (“DPMA”) (e.g., Registration No. 987481; registered on July 11, 1979) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (“EUIPO”) (e.g., Registration No. 13656, registered on July 22, 2002).
The Respondent owns the disputed domain name, <allianz.bet>, which was registered on October 18, 2017. The disputed domain name is used to host a website that offers many online gambling opportunities.
5. Parties’ Contentions
- The Complainant, founded in Germany in 1890, is one of the oldest and largest insurance and financial service companies in the world. With approximately 142,500 employees worldwide, the Complainant serves some 82 million customers in more than 70 countries.
-Throughout its long history, the Complainant has operated under the ALLIANZ name and mark, having invested substantial resources and efforts in building and sustaining goodwill associated with both. The Complainant’s distinctive and well-known mark has been registered for many years in many jurisdictions throughout Europe and the rest of the world. The Complainant has also obtained several domain name registrations based on its mark, including <allianz.com>.
- The disputed domain name, <allianz.bet>, is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s ALLIANZ mark. The mark is fully included, without alteration or addition, as the main term of the disputed domain name. The generic Top-Level Domain suffix (“gTLD”) “.bet” is not a material distinction.
- The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent is making no legitimate use of the disputed domain name, holding it for sale while seeking to profit from unlicensed use of the Complainant’s trademark rights. Moreover, the Respondent owns no trademarks corresponding to the disputed domain name, has received no license or authorization from the Complainant to use its mark and is not commonly known by the disputed domain name.
- The Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. The Respondent has appropriated not only the Complainant’s mark, but its logo as well, for bad faith purposes. The Complainant’s mark has been recognized as being internationally famous by prior UDRP panels. The Respondent is attempting to trade off that fame for commercial gain by creating a likelihood of confusion regarding the website attached to the disputed domain name and its connection to the Complainant. Furthermore, the Respondent owns 16 other domain names, suggesting the Respondent is a domain name trader trying to profit illegitimately from the goodwill associated with well-known trademarks.
- “Allianz” is a common German word which means “alliance” in English. The Respondent is using the disputed domain name, <allianz.bet>, for its dictionary meaning in connection with the Respondent’s gaming business — branded as ALLIANZBET — which offers multiple games of chance at one online venue.
6. Discussion and Findings
In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Panel may rule for the Complainant and grant a transfer of the disputed domain name, <allianz.bet>, provided the Complainant proves that:
(i) The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has 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.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has provided the Panel with appropriate evidence of the Complainant’s registration of its ALLIANZ trademark with both the DPMA and EUIPO, so the Panel concludes that the Complainant has sufficient rights in that mark to satisfy the threshold requirement of Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i). See Andrey Ternovskiy dba Chatroulette v. Sergey Kurguzenkov, Kurguzenkov S.V., WIPO Case No. D2018-0061 (“The Complainant has established his rights in the CHATROULETTE trademark by submitting copies of various trademark registrations”); and The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc v. Domain Admin, CSTIT, WIPO Case No. D2016-1028 (“Complainant’s rights in its NWOLB mark are evidenced by its registrations with the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and in its continued use of its mark”).
The Panel finds little difficulty in determining that the disputed domain name, <allianz.bet>, is identical to the Complainant’s ALLIANZ mark. The main body of the name duplicates the mark exactly. The gTLD, “.bet”, found in the name creates no distinction as a merely technical requirement of registration. See Navasard Limited v. Humberto DAbreu De Paulo, Duranbah Limited N.V., WIPO Case No. D2017-2414 (finding <xbet.bet> to be confusingly similar to the 1XBET mark, as: “The gTLD, in this case ‘.bet’, need not be taken into account”); and Allianz SE v. Hochul Jung, WIPO Case No. D2016-0266 (finding <allianz.net> to be identical or confusingly similar to the ALLIANZ mark).
In conclusion, the Panel finds that the Complainant has proved that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
As explained in the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 2.1, it is well established that a complainant must present a prima facie case that a respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name before placing the burden upon that respondent to furnish clear evidence that it does have those rights or interests. The Panel believes that the Complainant has provided a prima facie case in this regard, given that: the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s registered mark; the Complainant has asserted that it has granted the Respondent no license or authorization to use that mark; and there is no suggestion that the Respondent, Tim Hok or Tim Hok, Co. is commonly known by the disputed domain name, <allianz.bet>.
The Respondent’s informal response contains the contention that the disputed domain name is being used for its dictionary meaning in connection with Respondent’s online business, which consists of providing Internet users with multiple gambling options at one website. The Respondent argues that “allianz” is the German language common word that is equivalent to the English language common word, “alliance”. Consequently, adding that word to the English common word, “bet”, creates the brand name, ALLIANZBET, which accurately describes the Respondent’s offerings: the opportunity for Internet users to bet money online in connection with a number of allied games found at a single site.
The Panel acknowledges that many prior UDRP panels have found that a respondent can have legitimate interests in a domain name, even if identical or confusingly similar to an established trademark or service mark, when that name is used for its dictionary meaning. See, for example, Javier Narvaez Segura, Grupo Loading Systems S.L. v. Domain Admin, Mrs. Jello, LLC, WIPO Case No. D2016-1199; and St Andrews Links Ltd v Refresh Design, WIPO Case No. D2009-0601 (“If a respondent can show that it registered and has used the domain name with a view to taking advantage of that generic or descriptive meaning, then it may well have a legitimate interest for the purposes of the Policy”). However, as expressed in the WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.10.1: “In order to find rights or legitimate interests in a domain name based on its dictionary meaning, the domain name should be genuinely used, or at least demonstrably intended for such use, in connection with the relied-upon dictionary meaning and not to trade off third-party trademark rights.”
In this case, the Panel finds the Respondent’s contention to be less than compelling. Although the Respondent’s website may offer multiple gaming options, there is no real suggestion that they are in any way “allied” with each other beyond the circumstance that they appear in one place. For example, twelve unrelated and/or unaffiliated people might be located at a bus stop at the same time waiting for the same bus, without being “allied” with one another in any meaningful sense. An “alliance” presupposes a prior relationship or agreement between the entities involved, whereas the Respondent presents no evidence of that prior involvement with respect to the distinct gambling options found at his website. Moreover, it is unclear to the Panel that a two-word term containing common words from different languages (i.e., a German word combined with an English word) can be considered a dictionary term in either language, unless there is evidence that the term is in common usage by a substantial, defined group of people. The Panel detects no evidence of common usage in the instant circumstance. Accordingly, the Panel rejects the Respondent’s contention that it can claim rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name because it is composed of common dictionary words. See Allianz Sigorta A.S., Allianz Hayat ve Emeklilik A.S. v. Selcuk Yildiz, WIPO Case No. D2015-1762 (“...the mere fact that an element of the disputed domain name may have a descriptive meaning is of no assistance in establishing a right thereto when nothing in the record indicates it has been used in relation to this descriptive meaning”).
Otherwise, the Panel determines that the Respondent’s admitted use of the disputed domain name, which is identical to the Complainant’s world-famous mark, to provide online gambling links fails to constitute either a bona fide offering of goods or services per Policy paragraph 4(c)(i) or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the name per Policy, paragraph 4(c)(iii). See, Gray Television Group, Inc. v. Bladimir Boyiko, WIPO Case No. D2008-0303; and Western Union Holdings, Inc. v. Manuel Rodriguez, WIPO Case No. D2006-0850 (where the panel found that a disputed domain name, incorporating a well-known mark, used for a gambling website satisfied neither Policy, paragraph 4(c)(i) nor 4(c)(iii)).
In conclusion, the Panel rules that there has been no effective rebuttal to Complainant’s prima facie case, and that the Complainant has proved that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant contends that its mark is famous throughout the world and that the Respondent must have known of it before registration of the disputed domain name. Thus, the Complainant asserts, the Respondent’s registration of the name occurred in bad faith. The Panel, noting several prior UDRP cases where panels attested to the worldwide notoriety of the ALLIANZ mark, agrees with those contentions. See for example, Allianz SE v. Privacy Protection Service INC d/b/a PrivacyProtect.org / Kenneth Harrison, WIPO Case No. D2017-0136; Allianz SE v. Vitohessi Evenasse Benoit, WIPO Case No. D2017-0098; Allianz SE v. Bill Kergants/Whois Agent, Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2014-1822; and Allianz SE v. Woong Kang, WIPO Case No. D2013-1343.
Also, the Respondent concedes that the disputed domain name directs Internet users to his website, which offers various online gambling opportunities. The Panel concludes that the Respondent clearly intends to derive commercial gain from that online activity. As the Panel has found above that the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s ALLIANZ mark, the Panel determines that the Respondent’s intended commercial gain will result from the likelihood of confusion created between the disputed domain name and the mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the Respondent’s website. Therefore, the Panel finds that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith in accordance with Policy, paragraph 4(b)(iv). See Red Bull GmbH v. WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc. / Star Max, StarMax, WIPO Case No. D2017-2600; OSRAM GmbH. v. Jianfeng Wu, www.Juming.com, WIPO Case No. D2016-2500; Costco Wholesale Membership Inc., Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Marquita Rivera, WIPO Case No. D2014-0793 (“The Complainant has established bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. The Complainant has demonstrated that the Respondent is using the Domain Name to promote its gambling website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s COSTCO mark and websites”); Apple Inc. v. Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 016745298 / Grand Slam Co, WIPO Case No. D2011-1327; and T. Rowe Price Associates Inc v. Momm Amed Ia, WIPO Case No. D2001-0930.
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, <allianz.bet>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Dennis A. Foster
Date: June 13, 2108