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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center


American Airlines, Inc. v. WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc. / Brunes Jeans

Case No. D2020-2288

1. The Parties

The Complainant is American Airlines, Inc., United States of America (“United States”), represented by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, United States.

The Respondent is WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc., Panama / Brunes Jeans, United States.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <americantollfree.com> is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 1, 2020. On September 1, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 1, 2020, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification 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 2, 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 September 4, 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 September 8, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was September 28, 2020. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on September 29, 2020.

The Center appointed Evan D. Brown as the sole panelist in this matter on October 6, 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 one of the largest air carriers in the world, having become very well known around the globe during its more than 90-year history. It owns many trademark registrations in various jurisdictions for the marks AMERICAN AIRLINES and AMERICAN, including United States Reg. Nos. 0514294 (AMERICAN AIRLINES), registered on August 23, 1949, and 5288639 (AMERICAN and Design), registered on September 19, 2017.

The disputed domain name was registered on December 3, 2019. According to the Complainant, the Respondent has used the disputed domain name to divert Internet traffic to a website that prominently displays the Complainant’s AMERICAN trademark and copyright-protected airplane photos, and offers competing travel booking services. This website also displays a telephone number and invites consumers to call that phone number to make, change, or cancel American Airlines travel reservations. The Complainant provided evidence that when consumers call the phone number and ask if they have reached American Airlines, the persons who answer respond falsely that they have reached American Airlines. The Complainant accordingly asserts that the Respondent’s website impersonates the Complainant and charges customers for services they will never receive, or steals customers’ personal or business information. The Complainant likewise characterizes the Respondent’s website at the disputed domain name as simply defrauding consumers into believing that the Respondent is associated with Complainant.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark; that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and, that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

To succeed, the Complainant must demonstrate that all of the elements listed in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been satisfied:

(i) the disputed domain name is identical 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; and

(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The incorporation of a trademark in its entirety may be sufficient to establish that a domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered mark. See Britannia Building Society v. Britannia Fraud Prevention, WIPO Case No. D2001-0505. In this case, the disputed domain name contains the Complainant’s trademark AMERICAN in its entirety. The addition of “tollfree” (possibly referring to the scheme shown on the Respondent’s website inviting users to call and make travel plans) within the disputed domain name does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity.

A registered trademark provides a clear indication that the rights in the mark shown on the trademark certificate belong to its respective owner. See Advance Magazine Publishers Inc., Les Publications Conde Nast S.A. v. Voguechen, WIPO Case No. D2014-0657. The Complainant has demonstrated its rights because it has shown that it is the owner of a valid and subsisting trademark registration for the mark AMERICAN.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has shown that the disputed domain name is confusingly

similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Panel evaluates this element of the Policy by first looking to see whether the Complainant has made a prima facie showing that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. If the Complainant makes that showing, the burden of production to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests shifts to the Respondent.

The Complainant has established, prima facie, that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. On this point, the Complainant asserts, among other things, that:

- The Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name.

- The Respondent has not used or prepared to use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. Instead, it has operated a bogus website intended to trick Internet users into thinking such website is operated by the Complainant.

- The Respondent has not been authorized, licensed, or otherwise permitted by the Complainant to register and/or use the disputed domain name.

These facts make the Complainant’s prima facie showing. The Respondent has not provided any evidence that rebuts this prima facie showing. The Panel finds that the Complainant has established this second element under the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Policy requires a complainant to establish that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Policy describes several non-exhaustive circumstances demonstrating a respondent’s bad faith registration and use. Under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy, a panel may find bad faith when a respondent “[uses] the domain name to intentionally attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [respondent’s] website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of [respondent’s] website or location or a product or service on [the respondent’s] website or location”.

The Panel finds, particularly based on the use of the disputed domain name to set up a bogus website using the Complainant’s trademark and copyright-protected photos, that the Respondent knew about and indeed targeted the Complainant when it registered the disputed domain name. Such a showing is sufficient to establish bad faith registration of the disputed domain name. Bad faith use is clear from the Respondent’s activities of using the disputed domain name to maintain the website that impersonates the Complainant, and that is calculated to deceive consumers of travel services. The Complainant has successfully established the third UDRP element.

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 <americantollfree.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Evan D. Brown
Sole Panelist
Date: October 20, 2020