WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
ArcelorMittal S.A. v. Registrant of lakshmimittal.org, c/o WHOIStrustee.com Limited / Zeus Holding Market Ltd.
Case No. D2018-1086
1. The Parties
The Complainant is ArcelorMittal S.A. of Luxembourg, represented by Nameshield, France.
The Respondent is Registrant of lakshmimittal.org, c/o WHOIStrustee.com Limited of West Yorkshire, United Kingdom of Great Britain and North Ireland ("United Kingdom") / Zeus Holding Market Ltd. of Virgin Islands, Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <lakshmimittal.org> ("Domain Name") is registered with 1API GmbH (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on May 15, 2018. On May 15, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On May 16, 2018, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Domain Name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on May 25, 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 May 28, 2018.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended Complaint (hereafter "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 29, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was June 18, 2018. The Response was filed with the Center on June 18, 2018.
The Center appointed Nicholas Smith as the sole panelist in this matter on June 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 a company involved in the production of steel and is the market leader in the production of steel for use in automotive, construction, household appliances and packaging. The Complainant is the successor entity to Mittal Steel, an entity set up in 1976 in India. The founder of Mittal Steel, and present chief executive officer and chairman of the Complainant's board of directors, is Lakshmi Mittal.
The Complainant is the owner of, amongst other marks, trademark registrations for the word "MITTAL" (the "MITTAL Mark"). The MITTAL Mark has been registered since December 2005 in various European countries and from December 5, 2013 in a variety of non-European countries including China, Japan and the United States of America. The MITTAL Mark is registered for goods and services in classes 6 and 40 relating to the production of iron and steel.
The Domain Name was registered on April 19, 2018 and it resolves to an inactive website.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant makes the following contentions:
(i) that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant's MITTAL Mark;
(ii) that the Respondent has no rights nor any legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and
(iii) that the Domain Name has been registered and are being used in bad faith.
The Complainant is the owner of the MITTAL Mark, having registered the MITTAL Mark in Europe and various countries around the world. The Domain Name incorporates the MITTAL Mark in its entirety along with the first name "Lakshmi" which refers to the founder and chief executive of the Complainant Lakshmi Mittal.
There are no rights or legitimate interests held by the Respondent in respect of the Domain Name. The Respondent is not commonly known as the Domain Name, rather it is known as Zeus Holding Market Ltd, nor does the Respondent have any authorization from the Complainant to register the Domain Name. The Respondent has not been using the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use. The website at the Domain Name is inactive.
The Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant's MITTAL Mark is well known and the Respondent's failure to use the Domain Name is evidence of bad faith.
The Respondent's substantive response is set out below.
"1, As per our interpretation, Mr Lakshmi Mittal is a politically exposed person (PEP), one of the world's richest. His life is public, with his wealth he can influence on public opinion as well as on the social-economical life on a global basis. 2, Our website as a nonprofit informational site, summarizes his life, work and actual activities - not only his, but many others'. 3, There would not be any negative or adverse published. 4, Wikimedia would be the website's engine, that is free of charge. 5, The site would be something like a thematic Wikipedia. 6, We would generate traffic and build links referring to the site. 7, We would place banners to the site - if possible. 8, There would neither be any kinds of commerce nor any business activities on the site. As a result, our website would not make any adverse effect on Mr Lakshmi Mittal."
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
To prove this element the Complainant must have trade or service mark rights and the Domain Name must be identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant's trade or service mark.
The Complainant is the owner of the MITTAL Mark, having registrations for the MITTAL Mark as a trademark in various countries.
The Domain Name incorporates the MITTAL Mark in its entirety with the addition of the first name "Lakshmi" which refers to the founder and chief executive of the Complainant Lakshmi Mittal. Given the long connection with and prominent role held by Lakshmi Mittal at the Complainant, the addition of "Lakshmi" is insufficient to dispel the impression of confusing similarity created by the incorporation of the MITTAL Mark.
The Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's MITTAL Mark. Consequently, the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy is satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
To succeed on this element, a complainant must make out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If such a prima facie case is made out, then the burden of production shifts to the respondent to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy enumerates several ways in which a respondent may demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in a domain name:
"Any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the panel to be proved based on its evaluation of all evidence presented, shall demonstrate your rights or legitimate interests to the domain name for purposes of paragraph 4(a)(ii):
(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) you are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue."
The Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant in any way. It has not been authorized by the Complainant to register or use the Domain Name or to seek the registration of any domain name incorporating the MITTAL Mark or a mark similar to the MITTAL Mark. The Respondent does not appear to be commonly known by the Domain Name. The website at the Domain Name is inactive and there is no evidence of it having ever been used.
The Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name and the burden of production shifts to the Respondent. The Response submits that the Respondent seeks to use the Domain Name for a site providing information on Lakshmi Mittal. Regardless of whether such a use can provide a domain name holder with a legitimate interest in a domain name, in the present case the Respondent has submitted no evidence, documentary or otherwise, supporting its claimed intention. Such evidence, which would wholly be in the possession of a respondent, could include evidence showing steps taken to build a website, a development plan, or steps taken to engage a web developer. The Respondent has not satisfied the burden of production. In summary, the Response fails to produce any evidence rebutting the prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. As such the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
For the purposes of paragraph 4(a)(iii), the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:
(i) circumstances indicating that the Respondent has registered or has acquired the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the Domain Name registration to the Complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of the Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of its documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the Domain Name; or
(ii) The Respondent has registered the Domain Name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that the Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) The Respondent has registered the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the Domain Name, the Respondent 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 the Respondent's website or location or of a product or service on the Respondent's website or location. (Policy, paragraph 4(b)).
The Panel finds that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant and its reputation in the MITTAL Mark at the time the Domain Name was registered. The Response clearly indicates an awareness of the Complainant and its CEO Lakshmi Mittal at the time of registration. In the circumstances, the Respondent's conduct in registering the Domain Name when it was aware of the Complainant's rights and lacked rights or legitimate interests of its own amounts to registration in bad faith.
The Complainant has alleged that the Respondent's passive holding of the Domain Name is use in bad faith. While the Panel notes the fairly short period between the registration of the Domain Name and commencement of the proceeding, the Panel considers that this is a case where it is appropriate to find that the Respondent's passive holding of the Domain Name amounts to use in bad faith. The Domain Name wholly incorporates a well-known mark and precisely reflects the name of a well-known business figure. The Respondent, despite filing a response, has provided no actual evidence supporting any actual or contemplated good faith use of the Domain Name. On balance, the Panel concludes that the Domain Name has been registered and used with the intention of taking advantage of the Complainant's trademark rights or the fame of its CEO.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <lakshmimittal.org> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: July 2, 2018