WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Allianz SE v. Unknown / Adolf Tom
Case No. D2019-1783
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Allianz SE, Germany, represented internally.
The Respondent is Adolf Tom, Germany.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <rt-allianzpartners.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 July 25, 2019. On July 25, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On July 25, 2019, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification 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 July 31, 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 July 31, 2019.
The Center verified that 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 August 2, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was August 22, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on August 23, 2019.
The Center appointed Andrea Jaeger-Lenz as the sole panelist in this matter on August 27, 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.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is part of the Allianz Group, which is active in the field of insurance and financial services. The first company within what is now the Allianz Groupstarted its operations in 1890. The Allianz Group is nowadays providing insurance, healthcare and financial services products worldwide.
The Complainant owns trademark registrations with protection in a number of different countries containing the element ALLIANZ such as:
- International Registration N° 447004 ALLIANZ (word mark) registered on September 12, 1979 in class 36 for assurances and finance in Germany, with extensions of protection to Armenia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Benelux, Belarus, Switzerland, Cuba, Czech Republic, Germany, Algeria, Egypt, France, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Democratic People’’s Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Morocco, Monaco, Republic of Moldova, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Russia Federation, Sudan, Slovenia, Slovakia, San Marino, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Viet Nam.
- International Registration N° 713841 ALLIANZ and Design (figurative) registered on May 3, 1999 in classes 16, 35 and 36 including insurance and financial services in Germany, with extensions of protection to Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Benelux, Switzerland, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Algeria, Estonia, Egypt, Spain, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Georgia, Croatia, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Democratic People’’s Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Liberia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Latvia, Morocco, Monaco, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Mongolia, Mozambique, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Russia, Sudan, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sierra Leone, San Marino, Eswatini, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam.
- German Trademark Registration N° 987481 ALLIANZ (word mark) registered on July 11, 1979 in class 36 for insurance.
- European Union Trademark Registration N° 000013656 ALLIANZ (word mark) registered on July 22, 2002 in classes 16, 35 and 36 including insurance and financial services.
- European Union Trademark Registration N° 002981298 ALLIANZ and Design (figurative) registered on April 5, 2004 in classes 16, 35 and 36 including insurance and financial services.
Besides that, the Complainant owns several domain names incorporating the ALLIANZ trademark, such as <allianz.com>, <allianz.de>, <allianzgi.com>, <allianz-jobs.com>, which are resolving into the corporate website of the Complainant.
The disputed domain name <rt-allianzpartners.com> was registered by the Respondent on July 3, 2019. The account has been suspended and it is no longer possible to access the website.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that all three criteria stated in paragraph 4(a), (b), (c) of the Policy are met in the present case.
(1) The Complainant states that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to their trademark.
ALLIANZ has become a well-known trademark worldwide over the past 100 years in connection with insurance, healthcare and financial services products.
The disputed domain name is highly similar to the Complainant’s trademark due to the fact that the trademark ALLIANZ is included in the disputed domain name in its entirety. The reputation and the distinctive character of the Complainant’s mark have been confirmed in Germany (Allianz AG v. Die Allianz, Higher Regional Court of Munich, November 25, 1999; Allianz v. Alliance Capital, Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market decision n° 2819/2013, December 9, 2003).
The Complainant states that decisions have been issued in its favor by the Center in other comparable cases e.g. Allianz SE v. Well Domains are either owned by us or Client Managed, Case No. D2008-0535 (<allianzfinance.com>).
Hence, people are led to assume a connection between the Respondent and the Complainant.
(2) Furthermore, the Complainant alleges that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
There was no license or any other form of authorization or consent from the Complainant given to the Respondent for using the name “allianz”. Therefore, the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Also, the Respondent’s activities do not correspond to any of the circumstances that would evidence any rights to or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name (Policy, paragraph 4(c)).
The Respondent did not use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.
Neither is the Respondent commonly known by that name. The Complainant’s prior rights bar the Respondent from being known by the disputed domain name.
The Respondent is not making legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
(3) Finally, the Complainant states that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
Due to the fact that ALLIANZ has become a well-known trademark in the insurance and financial services sector over the past 100 years, the Complainant states its disbelief that the Respondent could have been unaware of its trademark prior to the registration of the disputed domain name.
Finally, the Complainant submits screenshots of the website into which the disputed domain name resolves. There, one can see that the Complainant’s trademark and design is used on the website while images of trucks and company signs together with letters “rt” are displayed on its trucks and company signs. The Complainant claims that the Respondent has intentionally been using the Complainant’s trademark and design. The Complainant argues that the Complainant’s ALLIANZ trademark and logo have been intentionally selected by the Respondent.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that each of the following three elements is present:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark; 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.
In the following, the Panel will discuss in consecutive order, if each of these requirements are met here.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The test for identity or confusing similarity under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy demands a direct comparison between the Complainant’’s mark and the textual string of the disputed domain name which is claimed to affect the Complainant.
In the present case, the Complainant has established that it has rights on the trademark ALLIANZ due to the registration and regular renewal of trademark registrations for ALLIANZ at the German Patent and Trademark Office, the European Union Intellectual Property Office and the World Intellectual Property Organization.
The disputed domain name <rt-allianzpartners.com> consists in the word “allianz” and “partners” with the prefix “rt-“ and the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com”.
The prefix “rt-” does not serve to sufficiently differentiate the disputed domain name from the Complainant’s trademark. The letters “rt-” do not have any particular meaning. Even if the letters “rt-“ were to be read as name initials, this does not serve to dispel confusing similarity. It has been decided that where the Complainant’s trademark is recognizable within a disputed domain name, the addition even of other third-party marks is insufficient in itself to avoid a finding of confusing similarity to the Complainant’s mark under the first element (Cummins Inc. v. Dennis Goebel, WIPO Case No. D2015-1064 (<fordcummins.com>); Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Whoisguard Protected, Whoisguard, Inc. / MARK JAYSON DAVID, WIPO Case No. D2016-2194 (<pallmall-marlboro.com>); Aldi GmbH & Co. KG, Aldi Stores Limited v. Ronan Barrett, WIPO Case No. D2016-2219 (<aldiorlidl.com> and <lidloraldi.com>)).
The Complainant’s trademark ALLIANZ is identical to the predominant part of the second-level-domain of the disputed domain name.
The disputed domain name adds the word “partners” to “rt-allianz” in its second-level-domain. This does not dispel confusing similarity either, since “partners” is not distinctive and commonly used for “individuals sharing interests and investments in a business or enterprise”. Thus, through the Respondent’s use of the mark ALLIANZ in combination with the word “partners”, confusing similarity still subsist among the relevant public. See, the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Edition 3.0 (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.8.
Finally, the gTLD does not affect the confusing similarity in any way due to the fact that it is a top-level-domain which people normally do not take into consideration when identifying a website as to its origin. Top-level-domains are, in general, a mere code of information about the kind of owner or content on the website (e.g. a firm or an organization). Therefore, “.com” just indicates a worldwide operating business which is true for the Complainant. See, WIPO Overview 3.0”, section 1.11.
Therefore the Panel comes to the conclusion that the Complainant has satisfied the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, a complainant is required to prove that a respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
In the present case, the Complainant has made a prima facie showing that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Complainant has contended that the Respondent was not authorized, licensed or otherwise allowed to make use of the Complainant’s trademark. The Respondent has used the website to display images of trucks using the letters “rt”, and sets out a list of “offices” in various countries for “RT Allianz Partners”. The Panel notes however that the Respondent’s website also displays Complainant’s trademark ALLIANZ with its distinctive sign without any authorization of the Complainant. The Panel finds that the Respondent has not registered and legitimately used the ALLIANZ mark.
Considering that the Respondent has used the Complainant’s ALLIANZ trademark with the distinctive design on the Respondent’s website, the Panel infers that the Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant and its trademark. Therefore, it seems more likely than not to the Panel that the use of the disputed domain name is calculated to mislead Internet users and amounts to freeriding on the goodwill of the Complainant’s mark.
The Respondent did not submit any response even though given the opportunity. In particular, the Respondent did not provide any proof of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, the Complainant has to establish that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith by the Respondent.
Whether a disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith for the purposes of the Policy may be determined by evaluating the following criteria set forth in paragraph (4)(b) of the Policy :
(i) circumstances indicating that the registrant has registered or the registrant 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 that Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the registrant’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name;
(ii) the registrant 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 registrant has engaged in a pattern of such conduct;
(iii) the registrant has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor;
(iv) by using the domain name, the registrant has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the registrant’s 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 the registrant’s website or location or of a product or service on the registrant’s website or location.
The Panel finds that the Complainant is widely known under its trademark with regard to insurance and financial services due to successful and extensive use for over 100 years. The Complainant submits that the Respondent knew or should have known of the Complainant’s earlier rights. This contention is corroborated by evidence which the Complainant has provided, namely excerpt from the Respondent’s website using the ALLIANZ mark as well as the particular “allianz” design. Also, the Complainant submits that “Allianz Partners” is a business unit of the Complainant and protected as a trademark (European Union Trade Mark No. 017950637, registered on March 15, 2019). The Panel notes that the Respondent’s website emphasizes the fact that the alleged service provided claims to be “specialize in online sales, transport and financial security of their clients”. Given that the Complainant is well-known for its services including financial services, the Panel finds that the Respondent indeed creates a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark.
It can be inferred from these facts that the Respondent or a related person used the disputed domain name to create a likelihood of confusion in order to attract Internet users and take advantage of the Complainant’s reputation.
All in all, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith in the sense of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy and that the Complainant has satisfied the requirement of 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 disputed domain name <rt-allianzpartners.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: September 10, 2019