WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. Kg. v. Jerome Farfarley

Case No. D2019-2174

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. Kg., Germany, represented by Nameshield, France.

The Respondent is Jerome Farfarley, Spain.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The Disputed Domain Name <boehringer-ingelheim.life> is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 6, 2019. On September 6, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Name. On September 6, 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 September 12, 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 September 12, 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 September 13, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 3, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 9, 2019.

The Center appointed Flip Jan Claude Petillion as the sole panelist in this matter on October 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.

4. Factual Background

The Complainant, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. Kg., is a pharmaceutical group of companies with roots going back to 1885. The Complainant now has approximately 140 affiliated companies world-wide with close to 50,000 employees.

The Complainant owns many registered trademarks including the terms “Boehringer Ingelheim” in several countries, such as the following:

- International trademark BOEHRINGER-INGELHEIM, No. 221544, registered with WIPO on July 2, 1959;

- International trademark BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM, No. 568844, registered with WIPO on March 22, 1991.

The Complainant also owns a number of registered domain names incorporating the terms “Boehringer Ingelheim”, such as <boehringer-ingelheim.com>, registered on August 31, 1995.

The Disputed Domain Name <boehringer-ingelheim.life> was registered on August 15, 2019 and refers to a parking page including commercial links related to the Complainant and its activities.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant considers the Disputed Domain Name to be confusingly similar to a trademark in which it claims to have rights. The Complainant further claims that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Name. According to the Complainant, the Respondent has not used the Disputed Domain Name in connection with a legitimate use. Also, according to the Complainant, the Respondent has not been commonly known by the Disputed Domain Name and is in no way affiliated with the Complainant. Finally, the Complainant claims that the Disputed Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant claims that the Respondent has registered the Disputed Domain Name primarily to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent’s website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

Paragraph 15 of the Rules provides that the Panel is to decide the Complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.

The onus is on the Complainant to make out its case and it is apparent, both from the terms of the Policy and the decisions of past UDRP panels, that the Complainant must show that all three elements set out in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been established before any order can be made to transfer the Disputed Domain Name. As the UDRP proceedings are expedited and do not have any evidentiary discovery, the standard of proof is the balance of probabilities.

Thus, for the Complainant to succeed it must prove, within the meaning of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, that:

(i) the Disputed Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; 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.

The Panel will therefore deal with each of these requirements.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

To prove this element, the Complainant must first establish that there is a trademark in which it has rights. The Complainant has clearly established that there are trademarks in which it has rights. The Complainant’s BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM mark has been registered and used in connection to the Complainant’s pharmaceutical business.

The Panel notes that the Disputed Domain Name <boehringer-ingelheim.life> incorporates the Complainant’s BOEHRINGER-INGELHEIM trademark in its entirety.

The Panel is of the opinion that the addition of generic Top-Level Domains (“gTLD”) can be disregarded when comparing the similarities between a domain name and a trademark (see Canyon Bicycles GmbH v. Domains By Proxy, LLC / Rob van Eck, WIPO Case No. D2014-0206; Zions Bancorporation v. Mohammed Akik Miah, WIPO Case No. D2014-0269). Therefore, the Panel considers the Disputed Domain Name to be identical to the Complainant’s BOEHRINGER-INGELHEIM trademark.

Accordingly, the Complainant has made out the first of the three elements that it must establish.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, the Complainant has the burden of establishing that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Name.

As established by previous UDRP panels, it is sufficient for the Complainant to make a prima facie showing that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name in order to place the burden of production on the Respondent (see section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”)).

The Panel notes that the Respondent has not been commonly known by the Disputed Domain Name and that the Respondent does not seem to have acquired trademark or service mark rights. The Respondent’s use and registration of the Disputed Domain Name was obviously not authorized by the Complainant. There are no indications that a connection between the Complainant and the Respondent exists.

Moreover, the Panel is of the opinion that the Respondent is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Disputed Domain Name. The Disputed Domain Name currently refers to a parking page operated by the Registrar with sponsored links related to the Complainant and to products and services of third parties in the pharmaceutical industry.

Additionally, there are no indications that the Respondent has made any efforts to suppress the commercial links on the website. Considering that the sponsored links displayed on the website connected to the Disputed Domain Name capitalize on the reputation and goodwill of the Complainant’s mark, the Panel finds that this cannot be considered as a fair use of the Disputed Domain Name (see section 2.9 of WIPO Overview 3.0). In addition, the Panel notes the nature of the Disputed Domain Name, which carries a high risk of implied affiliation (see section 2.5.1 of WIPO Overview 3.0).

The Respondent had the opportunity to demonstrate his rights or legitimate interests but did not do so. In the absence of a Response from the Respondent, the prima facie case established by the Complainant has not been rebutted.

Therefore, the Panel finds that the Complainant has established that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name. In light of the above, the Complainant succeeds on the second element of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant must prove on the balance of probabilities both that the Disputed Domain Name was registered in bad faith and that it is being used in bad faith (see, e.g., Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003; Control Techniques Limited v. Lektronix Ltd, WIPO Case No. D2006-1052).

Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides a non-exclusive list of factors, any one of which may demonstrate bad faith. Among these factors demonstrating bad faith registration and use is the use of a domain name to intentionally attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to a 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 website or location or of a product or service on the website or location.

In the present case, it is inconceivable that the Respondent was unaware of the Complainant and its trademark rights when it registered the Disputed Domain Name. The Disputed Domain Name includes the Complainant’s distinctive and well-known trademark in its entirety. The Panel therefore finds that the Respondent’s awareness of the Complainant’s trademark rights at the time of registration suggests bad faith. (See Red Bull GmbH v. Credit du Léman SA, Jean-Denis Deletraz, WIPO Case No. D2011-2209; Nintendo of America Inc. v. Marco Beijen, Beijen Consulting, Pokemon Fan Clubs Org., and Pokemon Fans Unite, WIPO Case No. D2001-1070; where POKÉMON was held to be a well-known mark of which the use by someone without any connection or legal relationship with the complainant suggested opportunistic bad faith; BellSouth Intellectual Property Corporation v. Serena, Axel, WIPO Case No. D2006-0007, where it was held that the respondent acted in bad faith when registering the disputed domain name, because widespread and long-standing advertising and marketing of goods and services under the trademarks in question, the inclusion of the entire trademark in the domain name, and the similarity of products implied by addition of telecommunications services suffix (“voip”) suggested knowledge of the complainant’s rights in the trademarks).

The Respondent is not presently using the Disputed Domain Name other than in connection with a parking page provided by the Registrar with pay-per-chick links.

In the present case, the Panel is of the opinion that the Complainant’s BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM trademark is distinctive and widely used, which makes it difficult to conceive any plausible legitimate future use of the Disputed Domain Name by the Respondent. Website content targeting the Complainant’s mark, e.g., through links to the Complainant and/or its competitors, may indicate that the Respondent’s intent in registering the Disputed Domain Name was in fact to profit in some fashion from, or otherwise exploit, the Complainant’s trademark (see section 3.1.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).

While the intention to earn click-through-revenue is not in itself illegitimate, the Panel finds that the use of the Disputed Domain Name that is identical to the Complainant’s trademark to obtain click-through-revenue constitutes bad faith use (see Mpire Corporation v. Michael Frey, WIPO Case No. D2009-0258; L’Oréal, Biotherm, Lancôme Parfums et Beauté & Cie v. Unasi, Inc, WIPO Case No. D2005-0623). The fact that the pay-per-click (“PPC”) links are automatically generated by a third party, namely the Registrar, cannot discharge the Respondent of any responsibility for the content appearing on the website connected to the Disputed Domain Name under its control (see section 3.5 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).

The Panel finds that by using the Disputed Domain Name incorporating the Complainant’s trademark in connection with a website containing sponsored links to products and services relating to the Complainant, its competitors and pharmaceutical products and services, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract Internet users to its website for commercial gain by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark.

Therefore, the Panel finds that, on the balance of probabilities, it is sufficiently shown that the Disputed Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. In light of the above, the Complainant also succeeds on the third and last element of the Policy.

7. Decision

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 <boehringer-ingelheim.life> be transferred to the Complainant.

Flip Jan Claude Petillion
Sole Panelist
Date: October 17, 2019