WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Royal Unibrew NS v. WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard Inc / Antonio Diaz
Case No. D2019-0724
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Royal Unibrew NS of Denmark, internally represented.
The Respondent is WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard Inc of Panama / Antonio Diaz of Germany.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <royalunlbrew.com> is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 1, 2019. On April 1, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 1, 2019, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on April 3, 2019, 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 April 5, 2019.
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 April 16, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was May 6, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on May 7, 2019.
The Center appointed Zoltán Takács as the sole panelist in this matter on May 14, 2019. 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.
The language of this administrative proceeding is English, that being the language of the registration agreement.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant produces, markets, sells and distributes beverages such as beer, malt drinks, soft drinks, cider and long drinks and is a leading regional business in a number of markets in Western and Eastern Europe.
The Complainant among others owns the following registrations for the mark ROYAL UNIBREW:
- Danish Trademark Registration No. VR 2005 00738 registered on February 25, 2005 for goods of classes 5, 32 and 33 of the Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Good and Services for the Purpose of the Registration of Marks (“The Nice Classification”),
- European Union Trademark Registration (“EUTM”) No. 0854698 registered on June 7, 2005 for goods of classes 5 and 32 of the Nice Classification.
Since October 20, 2004 the Complainant owns the domain name <royalunibrew.com>.
The disputed domain name was created on February 23, 2019 and has been used for a pay-per-click website and in a fraudulent email phishing scheme attempting to extract financial information about the Complainant.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is almost identical to its ROYAL UNIBREW trademark.
The only difference between the Complainant’s ROYAL UNIBREW trademark and the disputed domain name <royalunlbrew.com> is that the letter “i” in the word element “unibrew” of the disputed domain name has been replaced with letter “l” which is likely to be overseen by Internet users when typing the disputed domain name directly.
The Complainant alleges that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name and is unable to rely on any of the circumstances set out in paragraphs 4(c)(i), (ii) or (iii) of the Policy.
The Complainant claims that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in a deceptive email scheme which is typical bad faith conduct.
The Complainant requests that the disputed domain name <royalunlbrew.com> be transferred from the Respondent to the Complainant.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules requires that the Panel’s decision be made “on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable”.
It has been a consensus view in UDRP decisions that a respondent’s default (i.e., failure to submit a formal response) would not by itself mean that the complainant is deemed to have prevailed; a respondent’s default is not necessarily an admission that the complainant’s claims are true. See section 4.3 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).
A complainant must evidence each of the three elements required by paragraph 4(a) of the Policy in order to succeed on the complaint, namely that;
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights;
(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
Under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy, there are two requirements which the Complainant must establish, first that it has rights in a trademark or service mark, and second that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark or service mark.
It has been a consensus view among UDRP panels that if the complainant owns a trademark, then it generally satisfies the threshold requirement of having trademark rights.
The Complainant produced suitable evidence of having registered rights in the trademark ROYAL UNIBREW.
For the purpose of this proceeding the Panel establishes that the Danish Trademark Registration No. VR 2005 00738 and EUTM Registration No. 0854698 for the mark ROYAL UNIBREW satisfy the requirement of having trademark rights for the purpose of the Policy.
Having determined the presence of the Complainant’s trademark rights in the ROYAL UNIBREW mark, the Panel next assessed whether the disputed domain name <royalunlbrew.com> is identical or confusingly similar to it.
According to section 1.7 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, the standing (or threshold) test for confusing similarity involves a reasoned but relatively straightforward comparison between the complainant’s trademark and the disputed domain name. This test typically involves a side-by-side comparison of the disputed domain name and the textual components of the relevant trademark to assess whether the mark is recognizable within the disputed domain name.
According to section 1.9 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, a domain name which consists of a common, obvious, or intentional misspelling of a trademark is considered by panels to be confusingly similar to the relevant mark for the purpose of the first element. This stems from the fact that the domain name contains sufficiently recognizable aspects of the relevant trademark.
According to section 1.11.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, the applicable Top Level Domain (“TLD”) in a domain name (e.g., “.com”, “.club”, “.nyc”) is viewed as a standard registration requirement and as such is generally disregarded under the first element confusingly similar test.
The only difference between the disputed domain name <royalunlbrew.com> and the Complainant’s distinctive ROYAL UNIBREW trademark is that the letter “i” in the word element “unibrew” is replaced by letter “l”.
This alteration in view of the Panel does not avoid the finding of confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s trademark; it actually creates an almost identical sign to the Complainant’s ROYAL UNIBREW trademark. As a matter of fact this is a textbook example of the practice known as “typosquatting”, which e.g., relies on mistakes such as typos made by Internet users when inputting a website address into a web browser.
The applicable gTLD suffix in the disputed domain name, “.com” should in relation to this administrative proceeding be disregarded.
On the basis of facts and circumstances discussed above the Panel finds that the disputed domain name <royalunlbrew.com> is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s ROYAL UNIBREW trademark and that the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy is satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Under paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, a respondent may demonstrate its rights or legitimate interests in a domain name by showing any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation:
(i) its use of, or demonstrable preparation to use the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services;
(ii) it has been commonly known by the domain name;
(iii) it is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert customers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.
In the present case, the Complainant has submitted sufficient and uncontested evidence that it holds well-established rights in the ROYAL UNIBREW trademark.
The Complainant has never authorized the Respondent to use the ROYAL UNIBREW trademark in any way, and its prior rights in the ROYAL UNIBREW trademark long precede the date of registration of the disputed domain name.
According to section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, while the overall burden of proof in UDRP proceedings is on the complainant, panels have recognized that proving a respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in a domain name may result in the often impossible task of “proving a negative”, requiring information that is often primarily within the knowledge or control of the respondent.
As such, where a complainant makes out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, the burden of production on this element shifts to the respondent to come forward with the relevant evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If the respondent fails to come forward with such relevant evidence, the complainant is deemed to have satisfied the second element.
The Respondent defaulted and failed to respond, and by doing so failed to offer the Panel any type of evidence set forth in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, or otherwise counter the Complainant’s prima facie case.
The Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy lists a number of factors which, if found by the panel to be present, shall be evidence of registration and use of a domain name in bad faith. This non-exclusive list includes:
“(i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have 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 that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) you have 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 you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your website or location or of a product or service on your website or location”.
The Complainant presented undisputed evidence which convinces the Panel that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
According to section 3.1.4 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, UDRP panels have consistently found that the mere registration of a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar (particularly domain names comprising typos) to a famous or widely-known trademark by an unaffiliated entity can itself create a presumption of bad faith.
The ROYAL UNIBREW trademark of the Complainant has a strong reputation and due to its substantial and continued use is widely known. It is implausible to presume that the Respondent knowingly decided to incorporate it into the disputed domain name for any other reason than to target the Complainant and its ROYAL UNIBREW trademark for commercial gain.
The Respondent created two @royalunlbrew.com email accounts and sent deceptive emails to the Complainant’s bank in an attempt to obtain certain financial documents related to the Complainant. The Complainant’s bank uncovered the email sent by the Respondent was false, did not respond and filed a report to the police.
The Respondent’s phishing scheme to use fraudulent email to pose as one of the Complainant’s executives and try to obtain sensitive financial information from the Complainant’s bank in a fraudulent email scam is disruptive and clear evidence of bad faith registration and use (see, e.g., Minerva S.A. c. Miranda Nyenhuis, WIPO Case No. D2018-0763).
The fact that the disputed domain name previously resolved to a pay-per-click website further evidences the bad faith registration and use.
The Panel finds that paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy is satisfied.
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, <royalunlbrew.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: May 24, 2019