WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
A.P. Moller - Maersk A/S v. Name Redacted
Case No. D2020-0248
1. The Parties
The Complainant is A.P. Moller - Maersk A/S, Denmark, represented by Plesner Law Firm, Denmark.
The Respondent is Name Redacted – see discussion below.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <maersklinecarrierservice.com> (the “Disputed Domain Name”) is registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 31, 2020. On January 31, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Name. On February 1, 2020, 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 February 18, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was April 12, 2020. The Respondent did not submit any formal response. On February 20 and 21, 2020, the Center received email communications from a third party claiming his identity had been stolen and indicating he had nothing to do with the Disputed Domain Name. On February 20 and 22, 2020, the Center received emails from a different email account which was provided by the Registrar as the email address of the registrant of the Disputed Domain Name and the Panel concludes was the true Respondent stating that it was willing to transfer the Disputed Domain Name to the Complainant and providing the transfer code. Upon the Complainant’s request, the proceeding was suspended on February 27, 2020 and reinstituted on March 31, 2020.
The Center appointed Nick J. Gardner as the sole panelist in this matter on April 23, 2020. 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 relevant facts are largely straightforward and can be summarized as follows.
The Complainant is a worldwide conglomerate that was founded in 1904. The Complainant operates in some 130 countries with a workforce of over 76,000 employees. The Complainant has been the largest container ship operator and supply vessel operator in the world since 1996. The Complainant owns a number of registered trademarks for the terms “MAERSK”, for example, European trademark 3483039, registered on June 27, 2006, and “MAERSK LINE”, for example, European trademark 4698304 registered on September 8, 2006. These trademarks are referred to in this decision respectively as the MAERSK and MAERSK LINE trademarks.
The Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Name on March 17, 2015. It has been linked to a web site promoting a business described as “Maersk Line Service” which clearly mimics the Complainant’s own web site and which offers or purports to offer shipping and related services.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant’s contentions can be summarized as follows.
The Disputed Domain Name is similar to its MAERSK and MAERSK LINE trademarks.
The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the terms “MAERSK” or “MAERSK LINE”. It says the terms “MAERSK” and “MAERSK LINE” have no other meaning other than in relation to itself and its business.
In consequence the Complainant alleges that the Disputed Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant says the Respondent is impersonating the Complainant and seeking to divert its business.
No Response has been filed.
6. Discussion and Findings
It appears, from the record that the individual named as the Respondent may have nothing to do with this matter, his name having been recorded in relation to the Disputed Domain Name without his knowledge. The Panel proposes to follow the course of action adopted by the panel in Elkjøp Nordic A/S v. Name Redacted, WIPO Case No. D2013-1285 and set out as follows:
“As in Moncler S.r.l. v. Name Redacted, WIPO Case No. D2010-1677, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG v. Name Redacted, WIPO Case No. D2012-0890 and Saudi Arabian Oil Company v. Name Redacted, WIPO Case No. D2013-0105, this is a case in which the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Name was registered by a third-party without the involvement of the person identified in the WhoIs as the registrant of the Disputed Domain Name, against whom the Complaint was filed. The Panel has accordingly redacted the name of that person from the caption and body of this Decision. The Panel has attached as an Annexure to this Decision an instruction to the Registrar regarding transfer of the Disputed Domain Name that includes the name of that person so as to enable effect to be given to the Panel’s order. To this end, the Panel authorises the Center to transmit the Annexure to the Registrar and the parties but further directs the Center and Registrar, pursuant to paragraph 4(j) of the Policy and paragraph 16(b) of the Rules, that the Annex to this Decision shall not be published in this exceptional case.”
The Panel notes that no Response has been filed. However, given the Complaint and Written Notice were sent to the relevant addresses disclosed by the Registrar, then the Panel considers that this satisfies the requirement in paragraph 2(a) of the Rules to “employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice”. Accordingly, the Panel considers it is able to proceed to determine this Complaint and to draw inferences from the Respondent’s failure to file any Response. While the Respondent’s failure to file a response does not automatically result in a decision in favor of the Complainant, the Panel may draw appropriate inferences from the Respondent’s default (see e.g. Verner Panton Design v. Fontana di Luce Corp, WIPO Case No. D2012-1909).
To succeed, in accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must satisfy the Panel that:
(i) the Disputed Domain Name is identical with 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;
(iii) the Disputed Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel considers the Disputed Domain Name to be confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark MAERSK LINES. It is established that the addition of a generic or descriptive term to the disputed domain name (such as here “carrier service” which is an obvious reference to the nature of the Complainant’s business) has little, if any, effect on a determination of legal identity between the domain name and the mark (Quixtar Investments, Inc. v. Dennis Hoffman, WIPO Case No. D2000-0253); furthermore, mere addition of a generic or descriptive term does not prevent confusing similarity (PRL USA Holdings, Inc. v. Spiral Matrix, WIPO Case No. D2006-0189).
It is also well established that the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”), in this case “.com”, does not affect the disputed domain name for the purpose of determining whether it is identical or confusingly similar – see for example Rollerblade, Inc. v. Chris McCrady, WIPO Case No. D2000-0429.
Accordingly the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark and hence the first condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been fulfilled.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides a list of circumstances any of which is sufficient to demonstrate that a respondent has rights or legitimate interests in a domain name:
(i) before any notice to the respondent of the dispute, use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) the respondent has been commonly known by the domain name, even if the respondent has acquired no trade mark or service mark rights; or
(iii) the respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.
None of these apply in the present circumstances. The Complainant has not authorised, licensed, or permitted the Respondent to register or use the Disputed Domain Name or to use the MAERSK or MAERSK LINE Trademarks. The Complainant has prior rights in the MAERSK and MAERSK LINE Trademarks which precede the Respondent’s registration of the Disputed Domain Name. The Complainant has therefore established a prima facie case that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name and thereby the burden of production shifts to the Respondent to produce evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Name (see for example Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, WIPO Case No. D2000-0624; Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455).
The Panel finds that the Respondent has failed to produce any evidence to establish its rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name. Accordingly the Panel finds the Respondent has no rights or any legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name and the second condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been fulfilled.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In the present circumstances, the distinctive nature of the Complainant’s MAERSK trademark, the fact that it is well known, the use by the Respondent of the Disputed Domain Name to promote a competing business, and the lack of any explanation from the Respondent as to why he registered the Disputed Domain Name lead the Panel to conclude the registration and use was in bad faith.
Under the Policy paragraph 4b(iv) evidence of registration and use in bad faith is established where “by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location”.
In the present case, that is exactly what the Respondent has done. The Panel infers he selected the Disputed Domain Name because of its similarity to the Complainant’s trademarks and used it to attract customers to a competing business by creating a likelihood of confusion. In the circumstances the Panel concludes that paragraph 4(b)(iv) applies.
Further the Panel notes that the Respondent has not filed a Response and hence has not availed itself of the opportunity to present any case of good faith that it might have. The Panel infers that none exists.
As a result the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. Accordingly the third condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been fulfilled.
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 <maersklinecarrierservice.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Nick J. Gardner
Date: May 7, 2020