WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Alfa Laval Corporate AB v. Domain Administrator, See PrivacyGuardian.org / Clinton LLC, Clinton Muna
Case No. D2021-0102
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Alfa Laval Corporate AB, Sweden, represented by Gorrissen Federspiel, Denmark.
The Respondent is Domain Administrator, See PrivacyGuardian.org, United States of America / Clinton LLC, Clinton Muna, Nigeria.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The Disputed Domain Names <alfalaval.site> and <altalaval.com> are registered with NameSilo, LLC (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 Names. On January 14, 2021, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Disputed Domain Names which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on January 18, 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 19, 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 January 29, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was February 18, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 19, 2021.
The Center appointed Pablo A. Palazzi as the sole panelist in this matter on March 5, 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 a company organized under the laws of Sweden that belongs to one of the leading companies in the field of heat transfer, separation and fluid handling.
The Complainant owns several trademark registrations for the term ALFA LAVAL, among others:
- ALFA LAVAL, United States trademark registration No. 764251, registered on May 8, 1928; and
- ALFA LAVAL, European Union trademark registration No. 003481702 registered on March 3, 2005.
In addition, the Complainant’s trademark ALFA LAVAL is also used in the domain names for the Complainant’s generic Top-Level Domain <alfalaval.com>, as well as for the numerous country code Top-Level Domains, including <alfalaval.se>, <alfalaval.fr>, <alfalaval.co.uk> and <alfalaval.in>.
The Respondent registered the following Disputed Domains Names:
- <alfalaval.site> registered on February 5, 2020; and
- <altalaval.com> registered on August 6, 2020.
The Disputed Domain Names do not resolve to an active website. However, the Complainant submitted evidence that the Disputed Domain Names were used in order to attempt to redirect instalments of payments from genuine customers of Alfa Laval to fraudulent bank accounts.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant’s contentions can be summarized as follows:
Identical or confusingly similar
The Complainant contends that the Disputed Domain Names are confusingly similar or identical to the Complainant’s ALFA LAVAL trademark and domain name <alfalaval.com>.
The Complainant further states that the Respondent of the Disputed Domain Name <altalaval.com> is misusing “Laval” in conjunction with “Alta”, which only differs from “Alfa” by one letter. This is a clear indication of an intent to create a confusion of the words in order to misuse the trademarks and domain name rights of the Complainant. Since the letter “t” has likely been chosen as it at a glance resembles the letter “f” and thus to further create confusion for Internet users. Furthermore, the Complainant contends that it is easy to “typosquat” and confuse these two letters when searching for “Alfa Laval”.
As to the Disputed Domain Name <alfalaval.site>, the Complainant contends that it is identical to the Complainant’s trademark ALFA LAVAL, and the Complainant’s domain name <alfalaval.com>.
Rights or legitimate interest
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no legitimate interest in the Disputed Domain Names. The Respondent has not acquired any trademark rights that could support a legitimate interest in the Disputed Domain Names. Nor the Complainant has licensed or otherwise authorized the Respondent to use the trademark ALFA LAVAL.
The Complainant further alleges that the Respondent is not performing any legitimate business and is merely a “corporate shell” for malicious activities.
Finally, the Respondent is not known by the trademark ALFA LAVAL nor does it perform any business related to Alfa Laval. Thus, the Respondent has no legitimate business interest in the Disputed Domain Names and is not in any way affiliated to the Complainant.
Registration and use in bad faith
The Complainant contends that the fact that the Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Names which completely or near completely incorporate the ALFA LAVAL trademark, is an act of bad faith by someone with no connection to the Complainant’s business.
The Complainant further states that the Respondent has been misusing the Disputed Domain Names to fabricate Email addresses in fraudulent attempts to redirect instalments of payments from genuine customers of Alfa Laval to fraudulent bank accounts.
Accordingly, the Respondent has registered the Disputed Domain Names that are identical or nearly identical to the Complainant’s well-known trademarks and domain names in order to create confusion and thereby facilitate fraudulent activities for commercial gain.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists the three elements which the Complainant must satisfy with respect to the Disputed Domain Names:
“(i) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in the which the complainant has rights;
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.”
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant is the owner of the ALFA LAVAL trademark as evidenced by its trademark registrations. Based on the evidence submitted, the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Names are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark ALFA LAVAL both visually and phonetically.
With respect to the Disputed Domain Name <altalaval.com>, the only difference with the Complainan’s trademark is the replacement of the letter “f” by a “t”.
Moreover, the misspelling is also hardly noticeable and results in a very minor modification of the Complainant’s trademark, being a common mistake that any Internet user can make. This is a clear example of typosquatting. As section 1.9 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) states:
“A domain name which consists of a common, obvious, or intentional misspelling of a trademark is considered by panels to be confusingly similar to the relevant mark for purposes of the first element.(...) Examples of such typos include (i) adjacent keyboard letters, (ii) substitution of similar-appearing characters (e.g., upper vs lower-case letters or numbers used to look like letters), (iii) the use of different letters that appear similar in different fonts, (iv) the use of non-Latin internationalized or accented characters,(v) the inversion of letters and numbers, or (vi) the addition or interspersion of other terms or numbers.”
The Disputed Domain Name <alfalaval.site> reproduces the Complainan’s trademark in its entirety.
Therefore, the Panel concludes that the Complainant has satisfied the first requirement of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides a list of circumstances any of which is sufficient to demonstrate that the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Names:
“(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, 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) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) you are 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 at issue.”
There is no evidence of the existence of any of those rights or legitimate interests. The Complainant have not authorized, licensed, or permitted the Respondent to register or use the Disputed Domain Names or to use the ALFA LAVAL trademark.
The Respondent has failed to show that it has acquired any rights with respect to the Disputed Domain Names or that the Disputed Domain Names are used in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services.
The Respondent had the opportunity to demonstrate its rights or legitimate interests, but it did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
As such, this Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the second requirement of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy provides that the Complainant must establish that the Respondent registered and subsequently used the Disputed Domain Names in bad faith. The fact that the Disputed Domain Names reproduce the Complainant’s trademark establishes that the Respondent was well aware of the Complainant’s trademark when registering the Disputed Domain Names.
Moreover, the Complainant has argued that the Respondent used the Disputed Domain Names to create fake email accounts in order to attempt to influence instalment of payments by providing new bank account information for payment. This fact alone shows that the Respondent was well aware of the Complainant and its business and trademark when it registered the Disputed Domain Names.
Furthermore, the Disputed Domain Names are either identical or nearly identical to the Complainant’s trademark and domain name and thereby deliberately attempt to disrupt the Complainant’s business. In addition, the Respondent did not submit any explanation or possible justification for its use of the Disputed Domain Names.
Due to this conduct, it is obvious that the Respondent intentionally created likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademarks as described by paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
Therefore, taking all the circumstances into account and for all the above reasons, the Panel concludes that the Respondent has registered and used the Disputed Domain Names 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 Names <alfalaval.site> and <altalaval.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Pablo A. Palazzi
Date: March 19, 2021