WIPO Arbitratioin and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
ArcelorMittal (Société Anonyme) v. Kiren Ahofte
Case No. D2020-1333
1. The Parties
The Complainant is ArcelorMittal (Société Anonyme), Luxembourg, represented by CSC Digital Brand Services Group AB, Sweden.
The Respondent is Kiren Ahofte, Germany.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <arcelormeittal.com> is registered with PSI-USA, Inc. dba Domain Robot (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 26, 2020. On May 26, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On May 26, 2020, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which is differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on May 26, 2020 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 amendment to the Complaint on May 27, 2020.
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 June 4, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was June 24, 2020. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on July 13, 2020.
The Center appointed WiIliam A. Van Caenegem as the sole panelist in this matter on July 24, 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 Complainant is the owner of trade mark registrations in a number of jurisdictions, including ARCELORMITTAL International Registration, WO/WIPO No. 947686, registered August 3, 2007, in classes 6, 7, 9, 12,19, 21, 39, 40, 41, 42; ARCELORMITTAL Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BX/BOIP) No. 0824918, registered June 18, 2007, in classes 6, 7, 9, 12, 19, 21, 39, 40, 41, 42; ARCELORMITTAL BX/BOIP 0827145, registered July 25, 2007, in classes 6, 7, 9, 12, 19, 21, 39, 40, 41, 42; ARCELORMITTAL AU/IP Australia No. 1282928, registered September 7, 2009, in classes 4, 37; and ARCELORMITTAL Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CA/CIPO TMA 783952, registered December 2, 2010, in classes 6, 7, 9, 12, 19, 21, 35, 37, 39, 40, 41, and 42.
The Complainant makes information available about its products, services and news at “wwww.arcelormittal.com”, which according to Similarweb.com, received over 457,000 visitors during the 6-month period between September 2019 and February 2020.
The disputed domain name was registered on March 21, 2020, and resolves to a parking page.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant was formed in 2006, through the merger of Arcelor with Mittal Steel Technologies and is the largest steel producer in the world, manufacturing steel in 18 countries. It employs over 191,000 employees globally, with customers in 160 countries.
The Complainant stresses that ARCELORMITTAL is not a dictionary term and does not have a generic meaning, but refers to the two companies mentioned above that merged in 2006. The trade mark therefore directly references the Complainant’s origins and history. The Complainant also notes that it has spent substantial time, effort and resources in marketing and promoting its ARCELORMITTAL brand.
The Complainant points out that the disputed domain name is a purposeful misspelling of its ARCELORMITTAL trademark and varies from the Complainant’s trade mark by only one letter. Therefore, the disputed domain name must be considered a prototypical example of typo squatting. Such a deliberate misspelling of a trade mark registered as a domain name, which is intended to confuse Internet users, must be considered confusingly similar by design. The Complainant also points out that the disputed domain name is similar both visually and aurally.
The Complainant says that the Respondent is not sponsored by or affiliated with it in any way and that it has not licensed, authorized, or permitted the Respondent to register domain names incorporating the Complainant’s trade mark. Further, the Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name, which evinces the absence of rights or legitimate interests. The WhoIs information identifies the Registrant as “Kiren Ahofte”, which does not resemble the disputed domain name in any manner. The Complainant points out that where no evidence suggests that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name, the Respondent cannot be regarded as having acquired rights to or legitimate interests within the meaning of Policy, paragraph 4(c)(ii).
Furthermore, the Complainant points out that at the time of filing the Complaint the Respondent was using a privacy Whois service, which past UDRP panels have also found to indicate a lack of legitimate interests. The Respondent is using the disputed domain name to redirect Internet users to a generic registrar holding page that lacks content. The Complainant points out that the Respondent has failed to make use of the disputed domain name’s website and has not demonstrated any attempt to make legitimate use of the domain name and website, which again evinces a lack of rights or legitimate interests, as confirmed by numerous past UDRP panels.
The Complainant points out that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name on March 21, 2020, so significantly after the Complainant’s registration of its <arcelormittal.com> domain name on January 26, 2006. The Complainant and its ARCELORMITTAL trade mark are also said to be known internationally, with trademark registrations across numerous countries. The Complainant asserts that it has marketed and sold its goods and services using this trade mark since 2006, which significantly predates the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name on March 21, 2020. At the time of registration the Respondent knew, or at least should have known, of the existence of the Complainant’s trade marks and that registration of domain names containing well-known trade marks constitutes bad faith per se. The Complainant also reiterates that it is the world’s largest steel producer, which demonstrates its fame. Further, it says that searches on Google DE for “Arcelormeittal” return multiple links referencing the Complainant and its business.
The disputed domain name currently resolves to a generic registrar holding page and is not being used. However, the Complainant points out that past Panels have noted that the word bad faith “use” in the context of Policy paragraph 4(a)(iii) does not require a positive act on the part of the Respondent. Passively holding a domain name can support a finding of bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii). In this case, the Respondent has made no active use of the disputed domain name, factors, which should, according to the Complainant, be duly considered in assessing bad faith registration and use.
The Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name can only be taken as intending to cause confusion among Internet users as to its source and must thus be considered as having been registered and used in bad faith pursuant to Policy, paragraph 4(b)(iv). No good faith use is possible, in particular given that this is a typical example of typo squatting. Registering such a domain name is said to be indicative of an intention to hold the disputed domain name “for some future active use in a way which would be competitive with or otherwise detrimental to Complainant”. (See Jupiters Limited v. Aaron Hall, WIPO Case No. D2000-0574.
The Complainant also points to the fact that the Respondent, at the time of the initial filing of the Complaint, had employed a privacy service to hide its identity, which past Panels have held serves as further evidence of bad faith registration and use. The Respondent has also ignored the Complainant’s attempts to resolve this dispute outside this administrative proceeding, which is a recognized factor pointing towards bad faith.
Finally, on the balance of the facts set forth above, the Complainant asserts that it is more likely than not that the Respondent knew of and targeted the Complainant’s trade mark, and the Respondent should be found to have registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The ARCELORMITTAL trade mark of the Complainant, although not identical, is immediately recognizable in the disputed domain name. In its relevant part, the disputed domain name differs only by the addition of one letter, which is barely noticeable and has practically no effect on the visual and aural similarity between the relevant trade mark and the disputed domain name.
Therefore, the Panel holds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s ARCELORMITTAL trade mark.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has not been licensed or authorized to use the highly distinctive ARCELORMITTAL trade mark of the Complainant in any way. The name of the Respondent is Kiren Ahofte and there is no evidence before the Panel that the Respondent is known by any name similar to “ArcelorMittal” or has any legitimate claim to the use of the term. It is in any case almost impossible to imagine the Respondent having any legitimate basis for using such a distinctive term in any manner whatsoever, let alone to incorporate it in an almost identical form in a domain name registered without authorisation. This is a typical case of typo squatting, which amounts to a deliberate attempt to profit illegitimately from the distinctiveness of, and goodwill attached to a registered mark. The Respondent has also not replied to the Complaint.
Therefore, the Panel holds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The ARCELORMITTAL trade mark of the Complainant is highly distinctive and has been a registered mark since 2006, and also incorporated in the Complainant’s main domain name and website since then. It is composed of the juxtaposition of two pre-existing distinctive marks. The Complainant is the largest steel manufacturer in the world and present in many countries. It is extremely unlikely that the Respondent chose the disputed domain name in ignorance of the trade mark of the Complainant and the goodwill that attaches to it. That is further demonstrated by the small but clearly deliberate addition to the mark, which is a typical example of the practice of typo squatting. The Respondent clearly intends to profit illegitimately from linking the misleading disputed domain name to a parking page. This is bad faith use of the Complainant’s trade mark as has been recognized on numerous occasions by UDRP panels.
Therefore, the Panel holds that the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith.
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 <arcelormeittal.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
William A. Van Caenegem
Date: August 7, 2020