WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
AB Electrolux v. Saheed Ali
Case No. D2018-1068
1. The Parties
The Complainant is AB Electrolux of Stockholm, Sweden, represented by SILKA Law AB, Sweden.
The Respondent is Saheed Ali of Villa Literno, Caserta, Italy.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <electroclux.com> is registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 14, 2018. On May 15, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On May 16, 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 May 28, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was June 17, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent of its default on June 21, 2018.
The Center appointed Dennis A. Foster as the sole panelist in this matter on June 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
Established in 1901, the Complainant is a large Swedish company that sells its household appliances and other products in some 150 countries worldwide. The Complainant markets many of its goods under its ELECTROLUX trademark, which is registered with authorities around the world, including with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (“EUIPO”) (e.g., EUIPO Trademark Registration No. 000077925 ELECTROLUX; registered on September 16,1998).
The disputed domain name, <electroclux.com>, was registered on January 23, 2018. The disputed domain name is not being used for any purpose.
5. Parties’ Contentions
- Founded in 1901, the Complainant is a Swedish company that is one of the world’s leading producers of kitchen appliances and equipment, and cleaning and floor care products. The Complainant’s ELECTROLUX trademark is one of several marks used in its yearly marketing of some 60 million products in 150 countries worldwide.
- The Complainant’s ELECTROLUX mark has been registered with trademark authorities around the world, including with the EUIPO. Also, since 1996 the Complainant has conducted online operations under several domain names that contain the mark, including <electrolux.com>.
- The disputed domain name, <electroclux.com>, is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s ELECTROLUX trademark. The additional “c” and “.com” suffix do not offer meaningful differentiation from the mark.
- The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The disputed domain name was registered on the same date as other domain names that incorporate the Complainant’s mark and which were used for illegitimate “phishing” scams. Moreover, no active use is being made of the disputed domain name, so it is not involved in a bona fide offering of goods or services. Finally, Respondent is not known by the disputed domain name.
- The disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Respondent but received no reply. Prior UDRP panels have found failure to reply to a cease-and-desist letter to be evidence of bad faith. Furthermore, the Complainant’s trademark is extremely well known, and the Respondent certainly knew that the Complainant had rights in the mark. Passive holding of a disputed domain name in such circumstances is consistent with bad faith registration and use.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Pursuant to Policy, paragraph 4(a), the Panel may find for the Complainant and grant a transfer of the disputed domain name, <electroclux.com>, if the Complainant demonstrates that:
- The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
- The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
- The disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
In accordance with evidence of the Complainant’s long and continuous use in commerce of its ELECTROLUX trademark and the Complainant’s submission to the Panel of relevant evidence of the mark’s registration with the EUIPO, the Panel concludes that the Complainant possesses the rights in that mark required under Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i). See, AB Electrolux v. Protection of Private Person / PERAKT, LLC, WIPO Case No. D2017-1899 (“The Complainant has provided evidence and has thus established its rights in the ELECTROLUX trademark”); and Training Channel, S.A v. Domain Asset Holdings, WIPO Case No. D2011-0875 (“[...] the Complainant has established trademark rights in TRAINING CHANNEL as evidenced by the EU trademark registration [...]”).
The Second-Level Domain of the disputed domain name, <electroclux.com>, differs from the Complainant’s ELECTROLUX trademark only by the inclusion of “c” between “electro” and “lux”. The Panel views this slight deviation as consistent with the practice of “typosquatting”, where slight changes in an established mark for use in a domain name are employed to misdirect Internet users for illegitimate purposes. In any event, that slight deviation does not avoid a finding of confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the trademark. Moreover, the addition of the “.com” suffix is irrelevant in the comparison between the name and mark. As a result, the Panel determines that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark. See, Southwire Company, LLC v. Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 1241595243 / Southwire wire, WIPO Case No. D2017-1787 (finding <southwirec.com> to be confusingly similar to the SOUTHWIRE mark); and Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. v. “Gene Johnson” / Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2015-2059 (finding <halliburtonc.com> to be confusingly similar to the mark, HALLIBURTON, stating: “The addition of the letter ‘c’ does not dispel the confusing similarity of the Disputed Domain Name to Complainant’s mark”).
Therefore, the Panel finds that the Complainant has shown that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, as it has been shown that the name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark and there is no reason to believe that the Respondent, Saheed Ali, has been commonly known as <electroclux.com> per paragraph 4(c)(ii) of the Policy. The Respondent must then bear the burden of coming forward with compelling evidence that he does have those rights or legitimate interests. See, Banco Itau S.A. v. Laercio Teixeira, WIPO Case No. D2007-0912 (“A complainant is required to make out an initial prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests. Once such a prima facie case is made, respondent carries the burden of demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If the respondent fails to do so, a complainant is deemed to have satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy”); and Belupo d.d. v. WACHEM d.o.o., WIPO Case No. D2004-0110.
The Respondent has not filed a Response, and thus the Panel will accept all of the Complainant’s reasonable contentions as true and then examine the record in this case to determine whether creditable support for the Respondent’s position exists. See, RX America, LLC. v. Matthew Smith, WIPO Case No. D2005-0540 (“A respondent is not obliged to participate in a domain name dispute proceeding, but if it were to fail to do so, asserted facts that are not unreasonable would be taken as true...”); and LCIA (London Court of International Arbitration) v. Wellsbuck Corporation, WIPO Case No. D2005-0084.
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is not attached to a functioning website and consequently is being used for no purpose. The Panel accepts this reasonable contention and concludes that the disputed domain name is being used neither for a bona fide offering of goods and services per Policy, paragraph 4(c)(i) nor in a legitimate noncommercial or fair use manner per Policy, paragraph 4(c)(iii). See, “Dr. Martens” International Trading GmbH and “Dr. Maertens” Marketing GmbH v. Godaddy.com, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2017-0246 (“[...] the Respondent is neither making a bona fide offering of goods or services nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the [disputed] Domain Name as the [disputed] Domain Name is not resolving to an active website.”); and Revevol SARL v. Whoisguard Inc. / Australian Online Solutions, Domain Support, WIPO Case No. D2015-0379. As a result, the Panel’s examination of the record yields no effective rebuttal to the Complainant’s prima facie case.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the Complainant has shown that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel agrees with the Complainant’s contention that its ELECTROLUX trademark is world famous. In keeping with many prior Policy decisions regarding famous trademarks, the Panel believes that the Respondent, who has no known connection with the Complainant or its famous mark, must have registered the disputed domain name, which is confusingly similar to the mark, in bad faith. See, AB Electrolux v. Tran Thanh Phong, WIPO Case No. D2017-0976 (“The Panel notes that the ELECTROLUX mark has acquired extensive international reputation...”); and Guinness UDV North America, Inc. v. Dallas Internet Services, WIPO Case No. D2001-1055 (“Registration of a domain name containing a famous mark is strong evidence of bad faith.”).
The Panel accepts the Complainant’s reasonable contention that the disputed domain name is inactive. A long line of prior UDRP decisions holds that disputed domain name inactivity can constitute use of that domain name in bad faith under the Policy. See, WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition, section 3.3 (“From the inception of the UDRP, panelists have found that the non-use of a domain name...would not prevent a finding of bad faith under the doctrine of passive holding”); Virgin Enterprises Limited v. Cesar Alvarez, WIPO Case No. D2016-2140; and Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003.
In this case, the Panel believes that the reputation of the Complainant’s mark is of the highest order and that it is implausible that any good faith use of the disputed domain name could be made by an owner, such as the Respondent, who has no license or authorization from the Complainant to use its trademark in any manner, but has nevertheless proceeded to register a domain name that clearly seeks to create confusion with the Complainant’s mark. Moreover, the Respondent has failed to respond both to the Complaint and the Complainant’s cease-and-desist letter. Under these circumstances, the Panel is motivated to conclude that the aforementioned inactivity means that the disputed domain is being used in bad faith.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the Complainant has shown that the disputed domain was registered and is being 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 name, <electroclux.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Dennis A. Foster
Date: July 11, 2018