WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
ArcelorMittal (Société Anonyme) v. NGU
Case No. D2021-0314
1. The Parties
The Complainant is ArcelorMittal (Société Anonyme), Luxembourg, represented by CSC Digital Brand Services Group AB, Sweden.
The Respondent is NGU, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <arceslormittal.com> is registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 2, 2021. On February 2, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On February 3, 2021, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details.
The Center verified that 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 February 9, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 1, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 2, 2021.
The Center appointed Zoltán Takács as the sole panelist in this matter on March 8, 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.
The language of the Registration Agreement for the disputed domain name is English which the Panel establishes as the language of this administrative proceeding.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is one of the world’s leading steel and mining companies, employing over 191,000 people and serving customers in 160 countries.
The Complainant’s portfolio of trademarks consisting of or comprising the ArcelorMittal trademark, include:
- United States (“US”) Trademark Registration No. 3643643 for the word mark ArcelorMittal, registered on June 23, 2009 for goods and services of classes 6, 39, 40, 41, and 42 of the Nice Agreement, and
- International Trademark Registration (“IR”) No. 947686 for the word mark ArcelorMittal, registered on August 3, 2007 for goods and services of classes 6, 7, 9, 12, 19, 21, 39, 40, 41, and 42 of the Nice Classification.
Since January 27, 2006 the Complainant owns the domain name <arcelormittal.com>, which links to its corporate website.
The disputed domain name was registered on January 12, 2021 and has not resolved to an active website since registration.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its ArcelorMittal trademark since it contains the trademark in its entirety and the addition of the letter “s” makes this case an example of typosquatting.
The Complainant further alleges that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name and is unable to rely on any of the circumstances set out in paragraphs 4(c)(i), (ii), or (iii) of the Policy.
The Complainant claims that the Respondent knew of its distinctive ArcelorMittal trademark at the time of obtaining the disputed domain name and has registered it in order to take advantage of its goodwill.
The Complainant requests that the disputed domain name be transferred from the Respondent to the Complainant.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules requires that the Panel’s decision be made “on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable”.
It has been a consensus view in UDRP decisions that a respondent’s default (i.e., failure to submit a response) would not by itself mean that the complainant is deemed to have prevailed; a respondent’s default is not necessarily an admission that the complainant’s claims are true. See section 4.3 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (WIPO Overview 3.0).
A complainant must evidence each of the three elements required by paragraph 4(a) of the Policy in order to succeed on the complaint, namely that;
(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
Under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy, there are two requirements which the complainant must establish, first that it has rights in a trademark or service mark, and second that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark or service mark.
It has been a consensus view among UDRP panels that if the complainant owns a trademark, then it generally satisfies the threshold requirement of having trademark rights.
The Complainant produced proper evidence of having registered rights in the ArcelorMittal trademark, and for the purpose of this proceeding the Panel establishes that the US Trademark Registration No. 3643643 and IR No. 947686 satisfy the requirement of having trademark rights for the purpose of the Policy.
Having determined the presence of the Complainant’s trademark rights, the Panel next assesses whether the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to its ArcelorMittal trademark.
According to section 1.7 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, the standing (or threshold) test for confusing similarity involves a reasoned but relatively straightforward comparison between the complainant’s trademark and the disputed domain name. This test typically involves a side-by-side comparison of the disputed domain name and the textual components of the relevant trademark to assess whether the mark is recognizable within the disputed domain name.
According to section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, where the relevant trademark is recognizable within the disputed domain name, the addition of other terms (whether descriptive, geographical, pejorative, meaningless, or otherwise) would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity under the first element.
According to section 1.9 of the WIPO Overview 3.0., 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 the purpose of the first element.
According to section 1.11.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, the applicable Top-Level Domain (“TLD”) in a domain name (e.g., “.com”, “.club”, “.nyc”) is viewed as a standard registration requirement and as such is generally disregarded under the first element confusingly similar test.
The Complainant’s ArcelorMittal trademark is clearly recognizable within the disputed domain name. The disputed domain name adds an extra consonant “s” to the ArcelorMittal trademark, which in the view of the Panel is clear case of typosquatting. The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy is satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Under paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, a respondent may demonstrate its rights or legitimate interests in a domain name by showing any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation:
(i) its use of, or demonstrable preparation to use the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services;
(ii) it has been commonly known by the domain name;
(iii) it is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert customers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.
In the present case, the Complainant has submitted sufficient and uncontested evidence of holding well-established rights in the ArcelorMittal trademark.
The Complainant has never authorized the Respondent to use its ArcelorMittal trademark in any way, and its rights in the trademark precede the date of registration of the disputed domain name.
According to section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, while the overall burden of proof in UDRP proceedings is on the complainant, panels have recognized that proving a respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in a domain name may result in the often impossible task of “proving a negative”, requiring information that is often primarily within the knowledge or control of the respondent.
As such, where a complainant makes out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, the burden of production on this element shifts to the respondent to come forward with the relevant evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If the respondent fails to come forward with such relevant evidence, the complainant is deemed to have satisfied the second element.
The Respondent defaulted and failed to respond, and by doing so failed to offer the Panel any type of evidence set forth in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, or otherwise counter the Complainant’s prima facie case.
The Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy lists a number of factors which, if found by the panel to be present, shall be evidence of registration and use of a domain name in bad faith. This non-exclusive list includes:
“(i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) you have registered the 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 you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your 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 your website or location or of a product or service on your website or location.”
The disputed domain name has not resolved to an active website since registration. There is no evidence that the disputed domain name has been used in any active way.
The ArcelorMittal trademark is not a dictionary word. It directly references the Complainant’s origins and history referring to the two companies, namely Arcelor and Mittal Steel, which merged to create Arcelor Mittal (Société Anonyme).
The Respondent’s reproduction of such inherently distinctive trademark in the disputed domain name convinces the Panel that the Respondent was clearly aware of the Complainant, its business and prior rights at the time of obtaining the disputed domain name and chose to register it in order to exploit the reputation behind the ArcelorMittal trademark without any authorization or rights to do so.
According to section 3.3 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, from the inception of the UDRP, UDRP panels have found that the non-use of a domain name would not prevent a finding of bad faith under the doctrine of passive holding.
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 or 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.
The Respondent’s lack of any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, absence of any conceivable good faith use of the disputed domain name by the Respondent, failure to react and respond to the compelling evidence submitted by the Complainant, in view of this Panel further support an undisputed presumption of the Respondent’s evident targeting of the Complainant’s trademark rights and suggest that the Respondent’s non-use of the disputed domain name is in bad faith.
Noting the above discussed facts and circumstances the Panel finds that paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy is 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 <arceslormittal.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: March 22, 2021