WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Philip Morris Products S.A. v. Host Master, 1337 Services LLC
Case No. D2019-2244
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Philip Morris Products S.A., Switzerland, represented by D.M. Kisch Inc., South Africa.
The Respondent is Host Master, 1337 Services LLC, Saint Kitts and Nevis.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <iqos-rendeles.com> is registered with Tucows Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 16, 2019. On September 17, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 18, 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 the same day, 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 19, 2019. In response to the Center’s request for clarification dated September 19, 2019, the Complainant submitted a second amended Complaint on the same day.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended Complaints 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 20, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 10, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 11, 2019.
The Center appointed Taras Kyslyy as the sole panelist in this matter on October 16, 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 a company which is part of the group of companies affiliated to Philip Morris International Inc., an international tobacco company. The Complainant inter alia owns IQOS international trademark registrations as follows:
- No. 1218246, registered on July 10, 2014; and
- No. 1329691, registered on August 10, 2016.
The disputed domain name was registered on July 18, 2019, and resolves to a website selling tobacco smoking devices branded with the Complainant’s trademarks. The website is in Hungarian.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks. The disputed domain name entirely incorporates the Complainant’s trademark. Addition of the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com” and non-distinctive suffix “rendeles” does not add any distinctiveness to the disputed domain name.
The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its trademarks and to register the disputed domain name. The Respondent has clear intent to obtain commercial gain with a view to misleadingly divert consumers or tarnish the trademarks owned by the Complainant. The website at the disputed domain name is designed to make an impression it is related or authorized by the Complainant, which is not true, and does not clarify the real Respondent’s relationship to the Complainant. All these cannot be considered a bona fide offering of goods.
The disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Respondent knew of the Complainant’s trademarks when registering the disputed domain name. The Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name with the intention of attracting, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademarks as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of its website or location or a product or service on its website or location. The Respondent is using privacy protection service to hide its true identity.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The gTLD “.com” in the disputed domain name is viewed as a standard registration requirement and is disregarded for the purposes of the confusing similarity test (see, e.g., Rexel Developpements SAS v. Zhan Yequn, WIPO Case No. D2017-0275).
According to section 1.7 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (the “WIPO Overview 3.0”) in cases where a domain name incorporates the entirety of a trademark the domain name will normally be considered confusingly similar to that mark for purposes of UDRP standing.
According to section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 where the relevant trademark is recognizable within the disputed domain name, the addition of other terms (whether descriptive, geographical, pejorative, meaningless, or otherwise) would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity under the first element.
The disputed domain name incorporates the entirety of the Complainant’s trademark IQOS adding the term “rendeles”, hyphen and gTLD “.com”.
Considering the above the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark, therefore, the Complainant has established its case under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has established prima facie that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
The Complainant did not license or otherwise agree for use of its prior registered trademarks by the Respondent (see, e.g., Sportswear Company S.P.A. v. Tang Hong, WIPO Case No. D2014-1875).
According to section 2.8.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 resellers or distributors using a domain name containing a complainant’s trademark to undertake sales related to the complainant’s goods may be making a bona fide offering of goods and thus have a legitimate interest in such domain name. Outlined in Oki Data Americas, Inc. v. ASD, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2001-0903 (the “Oki Data Test”), the following cumulative requirements will be applied in the specific conditions of a UDRP case:
(i) the respondent must actually be offering the goods at issue;
(ii) the respondent must use the site to sell only the trademarked goods;
(iii) the site must accurately and prominently disclose the registrant’s relationship with trademark holder; and
(iv) the respondent must not try to “corner the market” in domain names reflecting trademark.
The Panel finds that the Respondent failed to satisfy the third of the above requirements by not disclosing its actual relationship with the Complainant, and thus failed to pass the Oki Data Test. The Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name misleads Internet users into thinking that the website is operated by or affiliated with the Complainant. As such, the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name cannot be considered bona fide.
Furthermore, the Respondent provided no evidence that it otherwise holds a right or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Considering the above the Panel finds the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Therefore, the Complainant has established its case under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to purport to sell the Complainant’s products applying various Complainant’s trademarks shows that at the time of the registration of the disputed domain name the Respondent clearly knew and targeted the Complainant’s prior registered trademarks, which confirms the bad faith (see, e.g., The Gap, Inc. v. Deng Youqian, WIPO Case No. D2009-0113).
According to paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy 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: 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. In this case, the disputed domain name resolves to a website featuring the Complainant’s trademarks and making false impression of being the Complainant’s local website to intentionally attract Internet users by creating likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademarks as to the source of the website and its products. The Panel finds the above confirms the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith.
The Respondent ignored its possibility to provide any good explanations of its good faith while registering and using the disputed domain name.
Considering the above the Panel believes the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith, therefore, the Complainant has established its case 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 disputed domain name <iqos-rendeles.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: October 18, 2019