WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
AB Electrolux v. Whois Agent, Domain Protection Service Inc. / Abedellatif Shatila
Case No. D2021-1423
1. The Parties
The Complainant is AB Electrolux, Sweden, represented by Silka AB, Sweden.
The Respondent is Whois Agent, Domain Protection Service Inc. United States of America (“United States”) / Abedellatif Shatila, Lebanon.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The domain name <eletrolux.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with Name.com, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 7, 2021. On May 7, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On May 10, 2021, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Domain Name, which differed from the named Respondent, and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on May 11, 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 May 11, 2021 of receipt by Center.
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 May 14, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was June 3, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 4, 2021.
The Center appointed Jeremy Speres as the sole panelist in this matter on June 14, 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 uncontested facts are as follows. The Complainant, founded in 1901, is one of the world’s leading producers of appliances and equipment for the kitchen, cleaning, and floor care. The ELECTROLUX brand is the Complainant’s flagship brand for kitchen and cleaning appliances for both consumers and professional users. In 2020, Electrolux had sales of SEK 116 billion and about 48,000 employees.
The Complainant owns trade mark registrations for the ELECTROLUX mark in over 150 countries, some of which date as far back as the 1920s. (See for instance, United States Patent and Trademark Office Reg. No. 0195691, registered on March 3, 1925).
The Complainant owns many domain name registrations consisting of or incorporating the word “Electrolux”, for instance, <electrolux.com> (which resolves to the Complainant’s primary website, registered on June 1, 2006), <electrolux.org> (registered on April 8, 1997), <electrolux.net> (registered on April 8, 1997) and <electrolux.info> (registered on July 31, 2001).
The Domain Name was registered on January 1, 2013 by the Respondent, and, as at the filing of the Complaint redirected to another domain name <electroluxapplainces.com>, which in turn resolved to a parked page exhibiting click-through advertisements referring to the ELECTROLUX mark in relation to home appliances, amongst others.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to its ELECTROLUX mark, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate rests in the Domain Name, and that the Domain Name was registered and used in bad faith, and stands to be transferred to it under the Policy, given that the Domain Name takes advantage of the Complainant’s well-known trade mark to divert consumers to competing goods and services using click-through advertisements.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Under the Rules, paragraph 14(b), a panel may draw inferences from the respondent’s default where a particular conclusion is prima facie obvious, where an explanation is called for but is not forthcoming, or where no other plausible conclusion is apparent (See the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) at section 4.3).
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
It is well established that where a domain name consists of a clear misspelling of a trade mark such that the mark is recognisable, as in this case, the domain name is confusingly similar. See the WIPO Overview 3.0 at section 1.9. Here, the exclusion of the letter “c” does not serve to differentiate the overall impression of the Domain Name, which remains aurally and visually nearly identical to the mark.
Many UDRP panels have found that the exclusion of a single letter from a trade mark does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity (see e.g. Kryterion International Limited v. ICS Inc., WIPO Case No. D2017‑1590; Specialized Bicycle Components, Inc. v. Nadeem Qadir, WIPO Case No. D2007-1500).
The Complainant has satisfied the standing requirement under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Where a complainant makes out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, the burden of production shifts to the respondent (WIPO Overview 3.0 at section 2.1). Here, there is a prima facie case, which the Respondent has failed to rebut.
The Complainant’s evidence establishes that its mark was registered, used extensively, and enjoyed considerable goodwill in many territories long prior to registration of the Domain Name. The Complainant has succeeded in many UDRP proceedings in which the panels accepted that the mark is well known, including in cases involving misspellings of the Complainant’s mark used for click-through advertisements, as in this case (see AB Electrolux v. Jason Wolfe Geagr, WIPO Case No. D2017-0835).
The Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s well-known registered mark and the Complainant has certified that the Domain Name is unauthorised by it. There is no evidence that any of the circumstances set out in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy pertain. The Respondent’s name, per the WhoIs data revealed by the Registrar, bears no resemblance to the Complainant’s mark for the purposes of paragraph 4(c) (ii) of the Policy. Without the benefit of a Response, the Panel is not aware from the case file of any trade marks in the name of the Respondent, or of any other circumstances that could give rise to rights or legitimate interests for the Respondent, and therefore assumes there are none or else the Respondent would have put those forward.
The only evidence of use of the Domain Name, a typographical variant of the Complainant’s mark, is that of redirection to a parked page comprising click-through advertisements, some of which incorporate the Complainant’s trade mark, linked to commercial websites offering goods and services which, inter alia, compete with the Complainant. The use of the confusingly similar Domain Name as such to redirect to another domain name for commercial gain does not support a finding of rights or legitimate interests.
The Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a) (ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Domain Name makes no sense other than as a typographical variant or contraction of the Complainant’s mark. In the circumstances, it is quite unlikely that the Respondent registered the Domain Name for its semantic value as opposed to the attractive brand value of the Complainant’s mark.
A search for the Respondent’s name in the WIPO Panel Decisions database reveals that the Respondent has been the named respondent in nine prior UDRP cases and lost all nine. It is thus clear that the Respondent is a serial cybersquatter who has engaged in a pattern of bad faith registration and use of third party trade marks for commercial gain. As the WIPO Overview 3.0 makes clear at sections 3.2.1 and 3.2.2, a pattern of bad faith conduct is relevant in assessing bad faith generally.
The Domain Name is being used to advertise goods and services competing with those of the Complainant. This, combined with the facts that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s well-known mark and the Respondent’s pattern of cybersquatting, is a clear indicator that the Respondent registered and has used the Domain Name with the Complainant’s mark in mind, and accordingly is an indicator of bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy (WIPO Overview 3.0 at section 3.1.4). The Respondent cannot disclaim responsibility for programmatically generated pay-per-click content (WIPO Overview 3.0 at section 3.5).
The Panel independently conducted a reverse WhoIs search on the Respondent’s name, which revealed that the Respondent is the registrant for the domain name to which the Domain Name redirected and at which the click-through advertisements were displayed, specifically <electroluxapplainces.com>. UDRP panels may undertake limited factual research into matters of public record (WIPO Overview 3.0 at section 4.8). This shows a pattern of conduct by the Respondent to target the Complainant’s mark which, when coupled together with the Panel’s above-mentioned finding regarding the Respondent’s role in at least nine other proceedings, supports a determination that the Respondent has engaged in bad faith.
It is noteworthy that the Domain Name was the subject of an earlier UDRP case involving virtually identical usage where the decision was to transfer the Domain Name to the Complainant. See AB Electrolux v. Pluto Domain Services Private Limited / Private Who is For cbelprip 1702, WIPO Case No. D2008-1627.
The Complainant has 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, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <eletrolux.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: June 15, 2021