WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Allianz SE v. Dave Mark
Case No. D2019-2153
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Allianz SE, Germany, represented internally
The Respondent is Dave Mark, Canada.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <allianz-se.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 September 3, 2019. On September 3, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 11, 2019, 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 September 11, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 1, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 2, 2019.
The Center appointed Gabriel F. Leonardos as the sole panelist in this matter on October 7, 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
Allianz SE is a German multinational financial services company headquartered in Munich, Germany. The Complainant is the parent company of one of the oldest and largest international insurance and financial services groups in the world. The Allianz group, funded in 1890, is one of the leading integrated financial services providers worldwide, serving to approximately 92 million consumers in more than 70 countries.
The Complainant is a market leader in the German insurance market and has a strong international presence. Allianz states that since its inception it has continuously operated under the ALLIANZ mark to identify insurance, healthcare and financial services products.
The Complainant alleges it has directed substantial resources to build its trademark portfolio over the years. In this sense, Allianz owns exclusive rights before ALLIANZ trademark and derivatives in different jurisdictions around the world, making it a distinctive and well-known sign. It owns for example the International trademark ALLIANZ Registration N° 447004 registered on September 12, 1979.
The disputed domain name was registered on August 21, 2019. According to the Complaint, it has been used to send fraudulent emails.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant submits that ALLIANZ is a distinctive mark used by the company for over 100 years. In order to protect its trademark rights, the Complainant has registered the mentioned sign worldwide such as the International trademark ALLIANZ Registration N° 447004 registered on September 12, 1979, as well as some domain names composed by the term “Allianz”, including the disputed domain name <allianz-se.com>.
The Complainant pleads that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar not only to its trademarks, but also to its company name “Allianz SE”. This way, the customers would wrongly expect to reach one of the Complainant’s websites through the disputed domain name, which also applies when a customer receives an email correspondence under this domain name, since it entirely incorporates the Complainant’s trademark.
The Complainant affirms that the likelihood of confusion is a current problem for the company, once various emails were sent from the disputed domain name <allianz-se.com> falsely indicating that the sender was Allianz SE’s CEO. Thus, the Complainant alleges that every connection with the disputed domain name would harm its image, whereas individuals that are interested in a business relation with Allianz Group, are being distorted.
Moreover, the Complainant claims that the Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in the ALLIANZ trademark. To the contrary, the Respondent does not hold any trademark registration for ALLIANZ sign and would never have received a license or any form of authorization or consent from the company to use such trademark. Considering this, the Complainant states that the Respondent’s sole intention is to take unfair advantage of Allianz’s well-known trademark.
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith as it is very unlikely that the Respondent was not aware of ALLIANZ trademark when registered the disputed domain name, considering (i) the Complainant’s strong reputation and (ii) the fact that the disputed domain name website <allianz-se.com> was used to send fake e-mails signed in the name of Allianz SE’s CEO.
In view of the above, the Complainant requests the disputed domain name <allianz-se.com> to be transferred to the Complainant, Allianz SE.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
To succeed, the Complainant must demonstrate that all the elements listed in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been satisfied, as following:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) 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.
The burden of proving these elements is on the Complainant.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has duly proven that the first element under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is met by evidencing that it owns several trademark registrations for ALLIANZ and its variants worldwide, and that such trademark is contained in its entirety in the disputed domain name <allianz-se.com>. See, section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel View on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).
Thus, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name <allianz-se.com> is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark.
Therefore, the Panel considers the requirements of the first element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent had twenty days to submit a response according to paragraph 5(a) of the Rules and failed to do so. Paragraph 5(f) of the Rules establishes that if a respondent does not respond to the complaint, the panel’s decision shall be based upon the complaint.
The consensus view of UDRP panels on the burden of proof under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy is summarized in section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 as follows: “[W]here 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 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 disputed domain name <allianz-se.com> was registered in August 21, 2019, that is, forty years after the registration of the Complainant’s international trademark, which occured in September 1979, and approximately one hundred years after the Allianz group first started to operate under the “Allianz” name, in 1890.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has never entered into any agreement with the Respondent nor granted any authorization or license to the Respondent regarding the use of the Complainant’s trademark, nor is the Respondent affiliated with the Complainant’s activities.
Accordingly, the Complainant established a prima facie case that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Since the Respondent has not replied to the Complainant’s contentions and, thus, has not presented any evidence or elements to justify any rights or legitimate interests in connection with the disputed domain name, the Panel has found no indication that any of the circumstances described in paragraph 4(c)(i)-(iii) of the Policy could apply to the present matter.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name (Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii)).
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy lists several circumstances that, without limitation, are deemed to be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith. Those circumstances include: “(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 Panel finds it highly unlikely that the Respondent had no knowledge of the Complainant’s rights to the trademark ALLIANZ at the time of registration of the disputed domain name, as stated above. On the contrary, the evidence shows that the Respondent was likely deliberately trying to create confusion.
Considering that (i) Complainant’s trademark is widely known, and (ii) the disputed domain name website <allianz-se.com> was used to send e-mails falsely signed in the name of Allianz SE’s CEO, the Panel acknowledges that the Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant’s trademark at the time of registration. Therefore, the Panel finds that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name with the intention to wrongly attract the Complainant’s clients and pursue commercial gains with their access to the website. In other words, it seems that the only reason for the registration of the disputed domain name was the intention to exploit the Complainant’s reputation for commercial gain, causing consumers’ confusion and diversion.
Considering that the Complainant is one of the oldest and largest international insurance and financial services groups in the world, the Panel is of the opinion that such use of the disputed domain name is further evidence of bad faith.
Thus, the Panel concludes that the Respondent acts in bad faith for the following reasons:
(i) the widespread reputation of the Complainant’s products and services makes it highly unlikely that the Respondent had no prior knowledge of the Complainant’s rights in its registered trademarks at the moment of the disputed domain name registration;
(ii) the Respondent has no legitimate interests in the disputed domain name;
(iii) the Respondent’s disputed domain name reproduces the Complainant’s trademarks; and
(iv) the disputed domain name misrepresents the Complainant and deceives their customers or potential customers by leading them to think that they are accessing one of Allianz’s official websites or talking to one of Allianz’s true employee, while instead they are facing the Respondent’s website.
Lastly, in conjunction with all of the abovementioned, the Panel notes that the lack of response to the Complaint by the Respondent reinforces the conclusion that the Respondent acted in bad faith.
Accordingly, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
As such, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied 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 <allianz-se.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Gabriel F. Leonardos
Date: October 21, 2019