WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Allianz SE v. Whois Privacy, Private by Design, LLC / Name Redacted
Case No. D2020-2101
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Allianz SE, Germany, internally represented.
The Respondent is Whois Privacy, Private by Design, LLC, United States of America / Name Redacted 1.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <allianzbank.net> is registered with Porkbun LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 10, 2020. On August 11, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On August 11, 2020, 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 August 12, 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 amended Complaint on August 14, 2020.
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 August 27, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was September 16, 2020. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on September 23, 2020.
On August 31, 2020, the Center received a communication from a third party.
The Center appointed Benjamin Fontaine as the sole panelist in this matter on September 30, 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 following facts were duly detailed and evidenced by the Complainant in its Complaint:
The Complainant is an entity of the German group Allianz, founded in the late 19th century and which operates in the fields of insurance, healthcare, and financial services products under the main brand ALLIANZ. The Complainant employs nearly 150,000 employees worldwide, and serves approximately 100 million customers in 70 countries. It manages assets of over EUR 1.6 billion.
Due to its longstanding and intensive use, the trade mark ALLIANZ has built a strong reputation, in Germany and beyond. In this respect, it suffices to highlight that the brand ALLIANZ was ranked 43 with a value in excess of USD 12 million in the Best Global Brands 2019 study of Interbrand.
The trade mark ALLIANZ of the Complainant is subject to numerous registrations worldwide. The following rights have been relied upon, in particular, for the purpose of this Complainant:
- International trade mark No. 447 004 ALLIANZ (word) in class 36 registered on September 12, 1979;
- International trade mark No. 714 618 ALLIANZ (fig.) in class 36 registered on May 4, 1999;
- International trade mark No. 713 841 ALLIANZ (fig.) in class 36 registered on May 3, 1999.
The Complainant is also the owner of a number of domain names, which are used in support of its activities. That includes domain names such as <allianz.de>, <allianz.com>, and <allianz.us>.
The disputed domain name <allianzbank.net> was registered on May 21, 2020 using a privacy shield service. In the course of this proceeding, an individual was disclosed by the Registrar as the alleged registrant of the domain name. However, this individual claimed in an email that she was not involved in any way in that registration and that her identity was probably usurped.
The Complaint contains a screenshot of the disputed domain name as used: the website contains a number of indications in French, including the following: a title “allianzbank vous propose un taux préférentiel sur votre prêt personnel” (allianzbank offers a preferential rate on your personal loan), a welcome offer to become a client, namely “Profitez de l’offre de bienvenue en ouvrant un compte” (take advantage of the welcome offer by opening an account), which includes a monetary reward, “90 euros offerts à l’ouverture de votre compte bancaire allianzbank” (EUR 90 offered for the opening of an allianzbank bank account), etc. The website also indicates that “allianzbank est un établissement financier européen fournissant des services bancaires internationaux de haute qualité. Nous sommes toujours prêts à collaborer avec vous en offrant un soutien financier complet à nos clients” (allianzbank is a European financial institution that offers high quality international banking services. We are always prepared to cooperate with you by offering a full financial support to our clients). It even contains contact details, including a phone number, an email created on the basis of the disputed domain name, and even indications of opening hours. Last, but not least, the website of the Respondents displays on the top left a reproduction of the Complainant’s trade mark ALLIANZ, along with its logo as registered in particular under international trade mark No. 713 841.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant develops a full set of arguments supported by numerous proceedings involving its trade mark ALLIANZ, before the courts and in several UDRP proceedings. These arguments can be summarized as follows:
First, it argues that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its earlier trade marks ALLIANZ. It states that the public will recognize its brand when viewing this domain name, and will expect to access a website hosted by the Complainant: “the use of the name <allianzbank.net> for banking and asset management services implies that the Respondent belongs to Allianz Group and deludes potential customers into thinking that the Respondent is part of the Allianz Group. Internet users will foremost recognize the ALLIANZ brand name in the domain.”
Second, it claims that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in the domain name: “Respondent holds no trade mark registrations for any ALLIANZ mark and has never received a license or any other form of authorization or consent from the Complainant to make use of the ALLIANZ mark.” Further, it adds that the Respondent does not use the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of services: “it is obvious that the Respondent is exploiting the fact that Internet users are hoping to access a website that […] belongs to Complainant’s group of companies. The Respondent is thus trading on the fame of the Complainant’s mark, which is connected in public perception with insurance and financial services.”
Third, on the bad faith use and registration, the Complainant claims that the Respondent is attracting Internet users by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trade mark. The Respondent is taking advantage of the reputation of the trade mark ALLIANZ and is attempting to capitalize on it.
On August 31, 2020, the Center received a communication from a third party regarding the identity of the registrant of the disputed domain name, claiming an identity theft had occurred.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that the Complainant prove all of the following three elements in order to be successful in these proceedings:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark 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 was registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant, under the first requirement of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, needs to establish that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trade mark or a service mark in which it has rights.
The Complainant owns several trade mark rights over the sign ALLIANZ. These trade marks are fully reproduced in the disputed domain name, and they are clearly perceivable in particular because they appear in first position. The addition of the element “bank” does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity. See section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).
Therefore, the first element of the Policy is satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Under the Policy, a complainant is required to make out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Once such a prima facie case is made, the respondent carries the burden of demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If the respondent fails to do so, the complainant is deemed to have satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
In this case, the Complainant has sufficiently argued that the Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name, and has not been authorized by the Complainant to register and use the disputed domain name. Further, the impersonation of the Complainant’s identity, through the reproduction of its trade mark and logo, creates a likelihood of confusion and is obviously not a bona fide offering of services.
Accordingly, and absent specific allegations of the Respondent, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In order to prevail under the third element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must demonstrate that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy lists a number of circumstances, which, without limitation, are deemed to be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith. These are:
(i) circumstances indicating that [a respondent has] registered or acquired a disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the disputed domain name to the complainant or to a competitor of the complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of [the respondent’s] documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the disputed domain name; or
(ii) [the respondent has] registered the disputed domain name in order to prevent the complainant from reflecting the complainant’s trade mark or service mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that [the respondent has] engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) [the respondent has] registered the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the disputed domain name, [the respondent has] intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [the respondent’s] 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 respondent’s] website or location or of a product or service on [the respondent’s] website or location.
The bad faith of the Respondent in the registration and use of the disputed domain name is undisputable, in particular for the following reasons:
First, the disputed domain name combines the trade mark ALLIANZ, which is very well-known, to the dictionary word “bank”, which describes a potential activity of the Complainant. It is not directly apparent from the file that the Complainant offers banking services. Still, it manages considerable financial assets for millions of clients, who could logically expect the Allianz Group to offer also banking services.
Second, as detailed above on the factual background, the Respondent is unlawfully reproducing the Complainant’s trade mark and logo in its website, so as to confuse the public regarding the origin of the services allegedly provided. It does so in a webpage that takes the appearance of a standard page of a bank, with all the information that one could expect, including special offers, contact details, opening hours, etc. Most likely, the Respondent is operating a fishing scheme to fraudulently obtain personal data from Internet users, and possibly sensitive financial information.
Accordingly, the third and final element set out in paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy is also satisfied.
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 <allianzbank.net> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: October 12, 2020
1 The Panel decided to redact the name of the named Respondent, adopting the criterion of the UDRP panel in Banco Bradesco S.A. v. FAST-12785241 Attn. Bradescourgente.net / Name Redacted, WIPO Case No. D2009-1788 (“The Panel has decided that no purpose is to be served by including the named Respondent in this decision, and has therefore redacted its name from the caption and body of this decision. The Panel has, however, attached as Annex 1 to this Decision an instruction to the Registrars regarding transfer of the Disputed Domain Names that includes the named Respondent, and has authorized the Center to transmit Annex 1 to the Registrars as part of the order in this proceeding. However, the Panel has further directed the Center, pursuant to paragraph 4(j) of the Policy and paragraph 16(b) of the Rules, that Annex 1 to this Decision shall not be published except under exceptional circumstances”).