WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Allianz Australia Insurance Limited and Allianz SE v. peter brown
Case No. D2021-1405
1. The Parties
Complainants are Allianz Australia Insurance Limited (“Complainant 1”), Australia, and Allianz SE (“Complainant 2”), Germany, represented by CSC Digital Brand Services Group AB, Sweden.
Respondent is peter brown, Canada.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name is <allianzau.com> which is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 6, 2021. On May 6, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On May 6, 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 those in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to Complainants on May 7, 2021, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting Complainants to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainants filed an amended Complaint on May 10, 2021.1
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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on May 10, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was May 30, 2021. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on May 31, 2021.
The Center appointed Gerardo Saavedra as the sole panelist in this matter on June 4, 2021. This Panel finds that it was properly constituted. This 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
Created in 1890, the Allianz group is a global financial services provider with services predominantly in the insurance and asset management business. Complainant 2, headquartered in Germany, is the parent company of the Allianz group. Complainant 1, based in Australia, is part of the Allianz group.
Complainant 2 has rights over the ALLIANZ mark for which it holds several trade mark registrations, such as registration No. 987481 in class 36, registered on July 11, 1979, with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office; International registration No. 447004 in class 36, registered on September 12, 1979; and registration No. TMA900654 in classes 35 to 39 and 42 to 45, registered on April 9, 2015, with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
The disputed domain name was registered on January 6, 2021. At the time the Complaint was filed the disputed domain name did not resolve to an active website since it returned an error message showing, among others, “This site can’t be reached”.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainants’ assertions may be summarized as follows.
The Allianz group is one of the world’s largest insurers and leading financial services companies. Over 100 million retail and corporate clients in more than 70 countries rely on the group’s knowledge, global presence, financial strength, and solidity. In fiscal year 2020, over 150,000 employees worldwide achieved total revenues of EUR 140.5 billion. In Australia, the Allianz group has been around for over 100 years. Complainant 1 is one of Australia’s largest general insurers, insuring 3.5 million Australians and over 25 per cent of the top 200 companies listed in the Australian Stock Exchange, making it one of the leading private workers compensation insurers in the country.
Complainants and the ALLIANZ mark are known internationally. Complainants have marketed and sold their goods and services using that mark since 1890. Complainant 2 is the owner of trade mark registrations across various jurisdictions. The ALLIANZ mark is well recognized and respected worldwide. According to Interbrand annual Best Global Brands Ranking of 2020, ALLIANZ ranks 39th. Complainant 1 received numerous awards from travel media and industry association, such as the 2019 Insurance Business Australian General Insurer of the Year.
Complainants operate numerous websites, among them <allianz.com> and <allianz.com.au>. According to Similarweb.com, <allianz.com> had about 1.03 million visitors in the past six months, while <allianz.com.au> ranks as the 2,351st most popular website in Australia and 134,741st most popular website globally. In addition, Complainants maintain various social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
The disputed domain name incorporates the ALLIANZ mark in its entirety while merely adding the geographically descriptive term “au” (abbreviation for “Australia”), thus rendering the disputed domain name confusingly similar to such mark. The mere addition of geographical terms to a complainant’s mark does not sufficiently differentiate the disputed domain name from that mark.
Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Respondent is not sponsored by or affiliated with Complainants in any way, and Complainants have not given Respondent license, authorization, or permission to use Complainants’ mark in any manner, including in domain names. Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name, and Respondent’s name does not resemble the disputed domain name in any manner.
Respondent is using the disputed domain name to direct Internet users to a website that resolves to a blank page and lacks content. Respondent has not demonstrated any attempt to make legitimate use of the disputed domain name, which evidences a lack of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Respondent should be found to have registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith.
It is more likely than not that Respondent knew of and targeted Complainants’ mark. ALLIANZ is so closely linked and associated with Complainants that Respondent’s use of this mark, or any minor variation of it, strongly implies bad faith. The fact that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainants’ mark, as well as their <allianz.com> and <allianz.com.au> domain names, demonstrates Respondent’s knowledge of and familiarity with Complainants’ mark and business. Further, performing searches across a number of Internet search engines for “allianz au” returns multiple links referencing Complainants and their business.
The disputed domain name currently resolves to an inactive website and is not being used. The bad faith use requirement under the Policy does not require a positive act on the part of Respondent, and passively holding a domain name can constitute a factor in finding bad faith registration and use pursuant to the Policy.
The disputed domain name can only be taken as intending to cause confusion among Internet users as to the source of the disputed domain name, and thus, it must be considered as having been registered and used in bad faith, with no good faith use possible. Since the disputed domain name consists of Complainants’ ALLIANZ mark and the geographically related term “au”, there is no plausible good-faith reason or logic for Respondent to have registered the disputed domain name. Rather, it is indicative of an intention to hold the disputed domain name for some future active use in a way, which would be competitive with or otherwise detrimental to Complainants. Any use of the disputed domain name whatsoever, whether actual or theoretical, would have to be in bad faith.
Respondent has employed a privacy service to hide its identity, which past UDRP decisions have held serves as further evidence of bad faith registration and use.
Complainants request that the disputed domain name be transferred to Complainant 1.
Respondent did not reply to Complainants’ contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs the Panel to “decide a complaint 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”.
As regards having multiple complainants filing a single complaint, although the Policy uses the term “complainant” throughout, it does not preclude the filing of a single complaint by several persons. This Panel considers that it is appropriate to have both Complainant 1 and Complainant 2 as Complainants in this procedure since both belong to the Allianz group and have shown a common grievance against Respondent (see section 4.11.1 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”)).
The lack of response from Respondent does not automatically result in a favorable decision for Complainants (see Berlitz Investment Corp. v. Stefan Tinculescu, WIPO Case No. D2003-0465). The burden for Complainants, under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, is to show: (i) that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainants have rights; (ii) that 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
It is undisputed that Complainant 2 has rights over the ALLIANZ mark.
Since the addition of a generic Top-Level Domain (i.e., “.com”) in a domain name is technically required, it is well established that such element may be disregarded where assessing whether a domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a mark. The disputed domain name identically reflects the ALLIANZ mark, albeit followed by the characters “au”. It is clear to this Panel that the ALLIANZ mark is recognizable in the disputed domain name and that the addition of such characters in the disputed domain name does not avoid its confusing similarity with said mark (see sections 1.7 and 1.8 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).
Thus, this Panel finds that Complainants have satisfied paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Complainants have alleged and Respondent has failed to deny that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
Complainants contend that they have no relationship with Respondent, that they have not authorized Respondent to use the ALLIANZ mark, and that Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name. The evidence shows that Complainants use the websites linked to the domain names <allianz.com> and <allianz.com.au> to feature their business. Although there appears to be no active website associated with the disputed domain name, it seems to this Panel that the composition of the disputed domain name carries a risk of implied affiliation.2
This Panel considers that Complainants have established a prima facie case that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name (see Intocast AG v. Lee Daeyoon, WIPO Case No. D2000-1467;, and section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0). In the file, there is no evidence of circumstances of the type specified in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy or of any other circumstances giving rise to a possible right to or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name by Respondent.
Based on the aforesaid, this Panel concludes that paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy is satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Complainants contend that Respondent’s registration and use of the disputed domain name is in bad faith, which Respondent did not rebut.
It is uncontested that Complainants’ ALLIANZ mark is well known internationally. Taking into consideration that the registration and use of the ALLIANZ mark preceded the creation of the disputed domain name by a number of years, Complainants’ international presence, and that Complainants’ business is featured at the websites linked to the domain names <allianz.com> and <allianz.com.au>, this Panel is of the view that Respondent should have been aware of their existence at the time it obtained the registration of the disputed domain name.
The evidence supplied by Complainants show that the disputed domain name does not resolve to an active website. The concept of a domain name “being used in bad faith” is not limited to a domain name with an active website on the Internet. Several UDRP decisions have held that the passive holding of a domain name that incorporates a well-known mark, without obvious legitimate purpose, does not prevent a finding of bad faith under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.3 It seems to this Panel that there is no basis to conceive a legitimate use of the disputed domain name by Respondent. In reaching that conclusion, this Panel has taken into account, in addition to the circumstances mentioned above, the following: (i) Complainants are well-established companies, (ii) Respondent is using Complainants’ mark at the disputed domain name (albeit coupled with just an irrelevant addition which, in the case at hand, may be indicative of Australia, a country where Complainants have a business presence) without Complainants’ authorization, (iii) the risk of implied affiliation of the disputed domain name with Complainants and the ALLIANZ mark, (iv) Respondent’s use of a privacy service to hide its name and contact details, and (v) Respondent’s failure to appear in this proceeding.
In sum, the overall evidence indicates that Respondent’s choice of the disputed domain name was deliberate for its confusing similarity with, and with the likely intention to benefit from the reputation and goodwill of, Complainants and their ALLIANZ mark, which denotes bad faith.
In light of the above, this Panel finds that Complainants have satisfied paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, this Panel orders that the disputed domain name <allianzau.com> be transferred to Complainant 1 (Allianz Australia Insurance Limited).
Date: June 18, 2021
1 The original Complaint was filed against “Withheld for Privacy Purposes/Privacy service provided by Withheld for Privacy ehf”, which appeared as registrant in the corresponding WhoIs report. The amended Complaint was filed against Respondent, as per the information disclosed by the Registrar.
2 See “Dr. Martens” International Trading GmbH and “Dr. Maertens” Marketing GmbH v. Godaddy.com, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2017‑0246: “Respondent’s lack of use of the Domain Name is a strong indication of its lack of rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name”. See also section 2.5.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0.
3 See Ferrari S.p.A. v. Ms. Lee Joohee (or Joo-Hee), WIPO Case No. D2003-0882: “Respondent has provided no evidence or suggestion of a possible legitimate use of the Domain Name. Thus, in the words of Telstra, it is not possible to conceive of any plausible actual or contemplated active use of the Domain Name by the Respondent that would not be illegitimate”. See also Flight Refuelling Ltd v. Neog Inc, WIPO Case No. D2005-0503: “there is no website that corresponds to the domain name [...] the Panel is satisfied that Respondent is acting in bad faith [...] The Panel cannot conceive of a situation in which Respondent could use the name in good faith, and Respondent has not suggested that there are any”. See also section 3.3 of the WIPO Overview 3.0.