WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Allianz SE v. WhoisGuard, Inc. / Phillips Taylor
Case No. D2021-0097
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Allianz SE, Germany, represented internally.
The Respondent is WhoisGuard, Inc. / Phillips Taylor, United States of America (“United States”).
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <allianzholdings.org> is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 13, 2021. On January 13, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 13, 2021, 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 January 19, 2021, 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 January 22, 2021.
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 February 2, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was February 22, 2021. On February 4, 2021, the Respondent sent an email to the Center stating: “I have attached on this email a signed response agreeing to cancel the domain <allianzholdings.org>. Currently I have discontinued use of domain for my client”. On the same day, the Center informed both parties by email of the option of suspending the proceeding to implement a settlement agreement. On February 5, 2021, the Respondent sent an email to the Complainant stating: “I believe we can both come to a consensus and have the domain transferred or cancelled by my registrar. How do we go about this?”. The Complainant replied on February 8, 2021, providing details for a transfer of the domain name to it. Despite further communications between the parties, it appears that a transfer of the disputed domain name to the Complainant did not occur. On March 4, 2021, the Center informed the parties that it would proceed to appoint a panel.
The Center appointed Andrew F. Christie as the sole panelist in this matter on March 30, 2021. 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 ultimate parent company of one of the oldest and largest international insurance and financial services groups in the world (the “Allianz Group”). The first company of what is today the Allianz Group, Allianz Versicherungs-AG, was founded in 1890 in Berlin, Germany. Since its inception, the Allianz Group has used the ALLIANZ trademark in connection with its insurance, healthcare and financial services products. The Allianz Group is a leading integrated financial services provider, with approximately 147,000 employees worldwide and 100 million customers in more than 70 countries. It is one of the world’s largest asset managers, with third-party assets of EUR 1,686 billion under management at the end of 2019. Total revenues of the Allianz Group worldwide in 2019 were EUR 142 billion.
The Complainant is the owner of numerous trademark registrations for the word trademark ALLIANZ, including International Registration No. 447004 (registered on September 12, 1979), and for a stylized trademark ALLIANZ, including International Registration No. 713841 (registered on May 5, 1999). The Allianz Group has registered numerous domain names containing the ALLIANZ word trademark, including <allianz.de> and <allianz.com>.
The disputed domain name was registered on December 6, 2020. The Complainant has provided an undated screenshot of the website resolving from the disputed domain name, showing that the website displayed the Complainant’s stylized trademark ALLIANZ in the top left-hand corner. That website also contained a page with the words “GET IN TOUCH” followed by “FEEL FREE TO DROP US A MESSAGE” via an online form, and displayed the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which it has rights because: (i) an Internet user will recognize the famous corporate name and trademark of the Complainant in the disputed domain name, and customers will therefore expect to reach one of the websites belonging to the Complainant or one of its subsidiaries; (ii) the use of the name “allianzholdings.org” for financial services implies that the Respondent belongs to the Allianz Group, and deludes potential customers into thinking that the Respondent is part of that group; and (iii) the reputation and highly distinctive character of the Complainant’s ALLIANZ trademarks have already been confirmed by different authorities.
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name because: (i) the Respondent holds no trademark registrations for any ALLIANZ trademark, and has never received a license or any other form of authorization or consent from the Complainant to make use of the ALLIANZ trademark; (ii) the Respondent is exploiting the fact that Internet users are hoping to access a website that belongs to the Complainant’s group of companies, and is thus trading on the fame of the Complainant’s trademark, which is connected in public perception with insurance and financial services; (iii) with the website resolving from the disputed domain name, the Respondent is exploiting the good name of the Complainant; (iv) before having been notified of this dispute, the Respondent did not use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; (v) the Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name, and the Complainant’s prior rights bar the Respondent from being known by it; and (vi) the Respondent is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith because: (i) through its use of the disputed domain name, the Respondent attempted to convince Internet users to reveal private information and data by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the disputed domain name; (ii) as the ALLIANZ trademark is very well known in many countries all over the world, it cannot reasonably be argued that the Respondent could have been unaware of the trademark when registering the disputed domain name, particularly as the disputed domain name wholly incorporates the Complainant’s trademark; (iii) the Respondent clearly sought to register the disputed domain name because of its association with the Complainant and hoped to capitalize on the Complainant’s reputation; and (iv) it is inevitable that the Respondent acted in bad faith when registering the disputed domain name and continues to do so by using the email address “email@example.com” for financial services.
The Respondent did not file a formal Response. In various communications with the Center and the Complainant following commencement of these proceedings (the substance of which is summarized in Section 3, above), the Respondent expressed its willingness to transfer the disputed domain name to the Complainant; however, it appears that no such transfer occurred.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Once the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.org” is ignored (which is appropriate in this case), the disputed domain name consists of the whole of the Complainant’s registered word trademark ALLIANZ followed by the word “holdings”. The Complainant’s word trademark ALLIANZ is the dominant element of the disputed domain name. The addition of the word “holdings” does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity of the disputed domain name with the Complainant’s word trademark. As provided in section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), the addition of other terms (whether descriptive, geographical, pejorative, meaningless, or otherwise) would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity under the first element. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent is not a licensee of, or otherwise affiliated with, the Complainant, and has not been authorized by the Complainant to use its ALLIANZ word trademark. The Respondent has not provided any evidence that it has been commonly known by, or has made a bona fide use of, the disputed domain name, or that it has, for any other reason, rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The evidence provided by the Complainant shows that the disputed domain name was used to resolve to a website at which was displayed the Complainant’s stylized ALLIANZ trademark, an online form for sending a message, and a contact email address using the disputed domain name. Given the confusing similarity of the disputed domain name to the Complainant’s trademark and the absence of any relationship between the Respondent and the Complainant, such a use of the disputed domain name is neither a bona fide use nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name. The Complainant has put forward a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and the Respondent has not rebutted this. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The disputed domain name was registered many years after the Complainant first registered its ALLIANZ word trademark. It is inconceivable that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name ignorant of the existence of the Complainant’s ALLIANZ trademark, given that the Complainant’s trademark has been heavily used and that the disputed domain name consists of the Complainant’s trademark with the mere addition of the word “holdings”. Furthermore, the evidence on the record provided by the Complainant indicates that the Respondent has used the disputed domain name to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to a website by creating confusion in the minds of the public as to an association between the website and the Complainant. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being 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 <allianzholdings.org> be transferred to the Complainant.
Andrew F. Christie
Date: April 15, 2021