WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

smava GmbH v. WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc. / David Mark Baddeley, Paloma Digital Limited

Case No. D2021-0119

1. The Parties

The Complainant is smava GmbH, Germany, represented internally

The Respondent is WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc., Panama / David Mark Baddeley, Paloma Digital Limited, United Kingdom.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <ansmava.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 January 15, 2021. On January 15, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 15, 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 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 amendment to the Complaint on January 18, 2021.

The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to 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 January 22, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was February 11, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 12, 2021.

The Center appointed Wilson Pinheiro Jabur as the sole panelist in this matter on February 23, 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 exploits a loan comparison portal in Germany since 2006. It is the owner, amongst others, of the following trademark registrations (Annex 1 to the Complaint):

- German Trademark Registration No. DE30562188 for SMAVA, filed on October 21, 2005, and registered on December 22, 2005, subsequently renewed, in International classes 35, 36 and 38; and

- European Union Trade Mark Registration No. 018190752 for SMAVA and design, filed on January 30, 2020, and registered on May 22, 2020, in International classes 35, 36 and 38.

The disputed domain name <ansmava.com> was registered on January 11, 2021, and appears to have been used in connection with a fraudulent website that reproduced a recent version of the Complainant’s official website and trademarks. Presently the disputed domain name does not resolve to an active webpage.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

In a very simple Complaint, the Complainant asserts to be one of the leading loan comparison portals in Germany.

In the Complainant’s view, the disputed domain name incorporates its SMAVA trademark in its entirety and was used in connection with a website that mirrored the contents of the Complainant’s official website in a fraudulent manner.

According to the Complainant, the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name given that:

(i) the Respondent has no rights of use or licenses over the Complainant’s registered trademark;

(ii) the Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name; and

(iii) the Respondent has been using the disputed domain name to attempt to mislead the Complainant’s customers.

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith given that the Respondent has mirrored a recent version of the Complainant’s website in the webpage that resolved from the disputed domain name creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant and its trademarks.

Accordingly, the Complainant requests that the disputed domain name be cancelled.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainants’ contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy sets forth the following three requirements, which have to be met for this Panel to order the transfer of the disputed domain name to the Complainant:

(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark 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 has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

The Complainant must prove in this administrative proceeding that each of the aforesaid three elements is present in order to obtain the transfer of the disputed domain name.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant has established rights in the SMAVA trademark, duly registered.

The Panel finds that the disputed domain name reproduces the Complainant’s mark in its entirety, being the addition of the “an” particle insufficient to avoid a finding of confusing similarity under the Policy which, as recognized by past UDRP panels involves a “comparison of the domain name and the textual components of the relevant trademark to assess whether the mark is recognizable within the disputed domain name” (WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition, “WIPO Overview 3.0”, section 1.7).

The first element of the Policy has therefore been established.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides a non‑exclusive list of circumstances that indicate a respondent’s rights to or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name. These circumstances are:

(i) before any notice of the dispute, the respondent’s use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the disputed domain name or a name corresponding to the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or

(ii) the respondent (as an individual, business, or other organization) has been commonly known by the disputed domain name, in spite of not having acquired trademark or service mark rights; or

(iii) the respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.

The Respondent, in not formally responding to the Complaint, has failed to invoke any of the circumstances, which could demonstrate, pursuant to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, any rights to or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. This entitles the Panel to draw any such inferences from such default as it considers appropriate pursuant to paragraph 14(b) of the Rules. Nevertheless, the burden of proof is still on the Complainants to make a prima facie case against the Respondent.

In that sense, the Complainant indeed states that the Respondent has no rights of use or licenses over the Complainant’s registered trademark. Also, the lack of evidence as to whether the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name or the absence of any trademarks registered by the Respondent corresponding to the disputed domain name, corroborates with the indication of the absence of a right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name.

Another element to consider is the potential that a fraudulent website that reproduced a recent version of the Complainant’s official website and trademarks to which the disputed domain name resolved prior to the beginning of this procedure. Ideally, the Complainant ought to have produced further evidence in that sense but considering that presently there is no active use of the disputed domain name, it appears difficult to conceive of any rights or legitimate interests the Respondent would have in a domain name that reproduces in its entirety the Complainants’ trademark.

Under these circumstances, where the Complainant has made a prima facie case, and absent evidence to the contrary, the Panel finds that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests with respect to the disputed domain name.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Policy indicates in paragraph 4(b) that bad faith registration and use can be found in view of:

(i) circumstances indicating that the Respondent has registered or acquired the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring it to the Complainant who is the owner of a trademark relating to the disputed domain name 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 owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the 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 location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainants’ 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.

Past UDRP panels have already dealt with the question of whether the “passive holding” of a domain name could constitute bad faith. Section 3.3 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 states that “[f]rom the inception of the UDRP, panelists have found that the non-use of a domain name (including a blank or ‘coming soon’ page) would not prevent a finding of bad faith under the doctrine of passive holding. While panelists will look at the totality of the circumstances in each case, factors that have been considered relevant in applying the passive holding doctrine include: (i) the degree of distinctiveness or reputation of the complainant’s mark, (ii) the failure of the respondent to submit a response or to provide any evidence of actual or contemplated good-faith use, (iii) the respondent’s concealing its identity or use of false contact details (noted to be in breach of its registration agreement), and (iv) the implausibility of any good faith use to which the domain name may be put”.

In the present case, the passive holding of the disputed domain name by the Respondent amounts to the Respondent acting in bad faith, given that the Respondent has provided no evidence whatsoever of any actual or contemplated good faith use of the disputed domain name. In addition to that, and as decided in past cases under the Policy, it is not possible to conceive of any plausible actual or contemplated active use of the disputed domain name by the Respondent that would not be illegitimate, such as by being a passing off, an infringement of consumer protection legislation, or an infringement of the Complainant’s rights under trademark law.

For the reasons stated above, the Respondent’s conduct amounts, in this Panel’s view, to bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name.

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, <ansmava.com>, be cancelled.

Wilson Pinheiro Jabur
Sole Panelist
Date: March 3, 2021