WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Allianz SE v. Privacy service provided by Withheld for Privacy ehf / Ifeanyi Okoro
Case No. D2021-2323
1. The Parties
Complainant is Allianz SE, Germany, internally represented.
Respondent is Privacy service provided by Withheld for Privacy ehf, Iceland / Ifeanyi Okoro, Nigeria.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <allianzfinancecapital.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 20, 2021. Also on July 20, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On the same day, 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 July 21, 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 the amendment of Complaint on July 22, 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on July 27, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was August 16, 2021. Respondent submitted informal communications on July 21 and August 3, 2021. Accordingly, the Center notified the Commencement of Panel Appointment Process on August 17, 2021.
The Center appointed Harrie R. Samaras as the sole panelist in this matter on August 24, 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
Complainant in this administrative proceeding is Allianz SE, a company organized under the laws of Germany and the European Union. It is the parent company of a large and well-established international insurance and financial services Group. The earliest of Complainant’s predecessors was founded in 1890 in Berlin, Germany. In 1893 the first international branch, an office in London was opened. Since its inception, Complainant has continuously operated under the Allianz name, which it has used in connection with its insurance, healthcare, and financial services products.
Over the years, Allianz has devoted substantial resources and efforts building goodwill in the ALLIANZ family of marks. For example, it owns International Registration No. 447,004 (registered December 9, 1979) and German Registration No. 987,481 (registered November 7, 1979) for the word mark ALLIANZ (the “ALLIANZ Mark” or the “Mark”). Complainant also owns European Union Registration No. 2981298 (registered April 5, 2004) for a composite mark (i.e., the ALLIANZ Mark juxtaposed to a design having three vertical heavy lines in a heavy outlined circle). The Allianz Group also has registered many domain names using its ALLIANZ Mark (e.g., <allianz.de>, <allianz.com>, <allianz.us>, <allianz.fr>, <allianzgi.com>, <allianz-jobs.com>).
The Domain Name was registered on June 22, 2021. It resolves to a website that features the ALLIANZ Mark prominently in various forms (in bold as a logo at the top of webpages, and in text) throughout the website. Where the ALLIANZ Mark appears in bold as a logo, it is accompanied by a design figure that looks similar to the design figure Complainant uses but slightly deconstructed (the circle is open at the bottom and the inner lines are broken, not straight). Under the tab “About Us” on the website, it states the following: “Allianz Finance Capital is one of the world[’s] most Leading Multi-assets Alternative Investment Firm that are committed to the Principle of Revenue Maximization and Reduction of Financial risk at Investing. Our Standardized Global Services help improves your Financial Health, Great Innovations and Digital Productivity.” The kinds of products and services described include: investment, financial advisory, stock trading, loans, estates and trusts, and registrars and probates.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Mark, because it incorporates the entirety of the Mark. Using the Domain Name customers will expect to reach one of the websites belonging to Allianz SE or one of its subsidiaries. The same applies if a customer receives email correspondence under the Domain Name. The Allianz Group is one of the largest providers of all kinds of financial products and services worldwide (e.g., insurance, asset management, assistance services). The use of the Domain Name for financial services implies that the Respondent belongs to, or is somehow related to, Allianz Group. Internet users will foremost recognize the ALLIANZ MARK in the Domain Name.
The reputation and highly distinctive character of the Mark has been confirmed by different authorities, such as courts, administrative agencies, and proceedings under the Policy. One example is a decision by the Oberlandesgericht Miinchen (Higher Regional Court of Munich) dated 25/11/1999. The court ruled that the hip-hop Group “Die Allianz” was infringing Complainant’s Mark, which it found has an extraordinarily high level of recognition in the general public. Every time the public reaches Respondent’s website through the Domain Name results in damage to Complainant’s image and it poses a threat to individuals that are potentially interested in a financial relationship with Complainant.
Respondent holds no trademark registrations for the ALLIANZ Mark and has never received a license or any other form of authorization or consent from Complainant to use the Mark. Also, Respondent is not commonly known by the Domain Name and Complainant’s prior rights in the Mark bar Respondent from being known by the Domain Name. Respondent is exploiting the fact that Internet users are hoping to access an ALLIANZ website or to communicate with someone related with the Complainant. Respondent is thus trading on the fame of the Mark, which the public associates with Complainant’s insurance and financial services. Respondent’s activities do not correspond to any of the circumstances set forth in the Policy under paragraph 4(c) that would evidence any rights to or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. Also, Respondent has not been using the Domain Name for a bona fide offering of goods or services or for a noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Name.
Respondent intentionally attempted, by using the Domain Name, to convince Internet users to reveal private information and data by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s Mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement.
The ALLIANZ Mark is very well-known internationally especially with regard to insurance and financial affairs. Complainant has a strong reputation that is based on customers’ trust in its service marks. It cannot be reasonably argued that Respondent was unaware of the Mark when registering the Domain Name. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the Domain Name wholly incorporates Complainant’s ALLIANZ Mark. Moreover, the Domain Name refers to the German term “Allianz” without any other reference to Germany or the German language at all. Hence, it is most unlikely that Respondent just happened to unintentionally select Complainant’s distinctive trademark and combine it with another Top-Level Domain. Respondent clearly sought to register the Domain Name because of its association with Complainant and hoped to capitalize on Complainant’s reputation. Therefore, it is inevitable that Respondent acted in bad faith when registering the Domain Name and continues to do so by using the website and email address associated with it (“[...]@allianzfinancecapital.com”) to phish private data from individuals interested in the fake financial services.
Respondent corresponded with the Center informally but did not reply substantively to Complainant’s contentions. In Respondent’s email communication to the Center, Respondent offered the Domain Name to Complainant in return for payment of USD 3,000.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel concludes that Complainant has rights in the ALLIANZ Mark by virtue of the trademark registrations cited above.
The Domain Name <allianzfinancecapital.com> incorporates in its entirety Complainant’s ALLIANZ Mark. Where a domain name incorporates complainant’s mark, this is sufficient to establish that the domain name is identical or confusingly similar for purposes of the Policy. See Kabushiki Kaisha Hitachi Seisakusho (d/b/a Hitachi Ltd) v. Arthur Wrangle, WIPO Case No. D2005-1105. Adding the dictionary terms “finance” and “capital” to Complainant’s ALLIANZ Mark does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity. See, Alstom v. Yulei, WIPO Case No. D2007-0424 (“Numerous WIPO UDRP decisions have recognized that adding a generic word is insufficient to give any distinctiveness to the domain name”). The ALLIANZ Mark is clearly recognizable within the Domain Name. See section 1.8 of WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).
For the foregoing reasons, the Panel finds that paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy has been satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Complainant contends that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name because: (1) Respondent is not commonly known by the Domain Name; (2) Respondent is not a licensee of Complainant, nor has Complainant authorized Respondent to register or use the ALLIANZ Mark for any purpose, including in the Domain Name; (3) Respondent holds no trade mark registrations for the ALLIANZ Mark; and (4) Respondent intentionally attempted, by using the Domain Name, to convince Internet users to reveal private information and data by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s Mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement. Thus, Respondent is not engaged in a bona fide business and it is receiving monetary benefits from its website.
Complainant has raised a prima facie presumption of Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests, and Respondent has failed to rebut that presumption. The Panel is therefore satisfied that Complainant has carried its burden of proving that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Names.
For the foregoing reasons, the Panel finds that paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy has been satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel concludes, on the evidence submitted by Complainant, that Respondent has registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith. Complainant’s long-standing rights in the ALLIANZ Mark are uncontroverted, as is the fact that Respondent registered the Domain Name long after Complainant established its rights in the Mark. Moreover, Respondent not only appropriated Complainant’s ALLIANZ Mark (in which Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests), he also added to that Mark dictionary terms like “finance” and “capital” that reflect Complainant’s business. Respondent is using the Domain Name to redirect Internet users to a website that is prominently using the ALLIANZ Mark (as well as a composite mark like Complainant’s composite mark) to provide services in competition with Complainant. Respondent posts on his website two email addresses that use the Domain Name. It is not by chance that Respondent registered the Domain Name using the ALLIANZ Mark. The facts and circumstances show that it is more likely than not that Respondent would have to have known about Complainant and its rights in the Mark when registering the Domain Name.
With regard to bad faith use, Respondent is clearly using the confusingly similar Domain Name in association with a commercial website offering services that compete with those sold by Complainant on a competing website. If, as Complainant suggests, Respondent is also using the Domain Name – including the goodwill and trust in the ALLIANZ Mark and Complainant itself -- to elicit from the public private information and data that could be used to steal money from or otherwise harm potential customers – that is further indication of bad faith use of the Domain Name. Use of the Domain Name for such activities evinces bad faith use. See Twitter, Inc. v. Whois Agent, Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc. / Domain Support, WIPO Case No. D2015-1488 (“The Panel accepts Complainant’s undisputed submission that bad faith registration and use of the Domain Name is further indicated by the fact that there is strong suspicion of Respondent using the Domain Name in an elaborate common phishing scam.”).
The Panel therefore holds that 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, <allianzfinancecapital.com>, be transferred to Complainant.
Harrie R. Samaras
Date: September 6, 2021.