WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

AGFA-Gevaert N.V. v. Xinmin Liu

Case No. D2021-3397

1. The Parties

The Complainant is AGFA-Gevaert N.V., Belgium, represented by Novagraaf Belgium NV/SA, Belgium.

The Respondent is Xinmin Liu, China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <agfaus.com> is registered with Hong Kong Juming Network Technology Co., Ltd (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 13, 2021. On October 14, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 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 October 15, 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 amended Complaint on October 18, 2021.

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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on October 19, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 8, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 9, 2021.

The Center appointed Edoardo Fano as the sole panelist in this matter on December 10, 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 Panel has not received any requests from the Complainant or the Respondent regarding further submissions, waivers or extensions of deadlines, and the Panel has not found it necessary to request any further information from the Parties.

Having reviewed the communication records in the case file provided by the Center, the Panel finds that the Center has discharged its responsibility under the Rules, paragraph 2(a), “to employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice to the Respondent”. Therefore, the Panel shall issue its Decision based upon the Complaint, the Policy, the Rules and the Supplemental Rules and without the benefit of a response from the Respondent.

The language of the proceeding is English, being the language of the Registration Agreement, as per paragraph 11(a) of the Rules.

4. Factual Background

The Complainant is AGFA-Gevaert N.V., a Belgian company operating in the graphic and photographic field that owns several trademark registrations for AGFA, including the following:

- European Union Trade Mark Registration No. 003353463 for AGFA, registered on January 24, 2005;

- European Union Trade Mark Registration No. 008133167 for AGFA, registered on February 17, 2010.

The Complainant also operates on the Internet and owns several domain name registrations for AGFA.

The Complainant provided evidence in support of the above.

According to the WhoIs records, the disputed domain name was registered on May 28, 2021 and it presently resolves to an error page. When the Complaint was filed, the disputed domain name resolved to a website with pornographic content.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant states that the disputed domain name <agfaus.com> is confusingly similar to its trademark AGFA, as the disputed domain name wholly contains the Complainant’s trademark with the addition of the letters “us”.

Moreover, the Complainant asserts that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name since it has not been authorized by the Complainant to register the disputed domain name or to use its trademark within the disputed domain name, it is not commonly known by the disputed domain name, nor is it making a bona fide offering of goods or services or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.

The Complainant submits that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name in bad faith, since the Complainant’s trademark AGFA is distinctive and internationally known in the graphic and photographic field. Therefore, the Respondent targeted the Complainant’s trademark at the time of registration of the disputed domain name and the Complainant contends that the use of the disputed domain name in connection to a website with pornographic content to intentionally attract, for commercial gain, Internet users, qualifies as bad faith registration and use. The Complainant moreover asserts that the use of the disputed domain name is harmful to the Complainant’s reputation.

B. Respondent

The Respondent has made no reply to the Complainant’s contentions and is in default. In reference to paragraphs 5(f) and 14 of the Rules, no exceptional circumstances explaining the default have been put forward or are apparent from the record.

A respondent is not obliged to participate in a proceeding under the Policy, but if it fails to do so, reasonable facts asserted by a complainant may be taken as true, and appropriate inferences, in accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, may be drawn (see, e.g., Reuters Limited v. Global Net 2000, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0441; Microsoft Corporation v. Freak Films Oy, WIPO Case No. D2003-0109; SSL International PLC v. Mark Freeman, WIPO Case No. D2000-1080; Altavista Company v. Grandtotal Finances Limited et. al., WIPO Case No. D2000-0848; Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, Caisse Fédérale du Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe v. Marketing Total S.A., WIPO Case No. D2007-0288).

6. Discussion and Findings

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists three elements, which the Complainant must satisfy in order to succeed:

(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.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel finds that the Complainant is the owner of the trademark AGFA both by registration and acquired reputation and that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the trademark AGFA.

Regarding the addition of the geographical code “us” (as an abbreviation for “Unites States of America”), the Panel notes that it is now well established that the addition of descriptive or geographical terms or letters to a domain name does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the trademark (see, e.g., Aventis Pharma SA., Aventis Pharma Deutschland GmbH v. Jonathan Valicenti, WIPO Case No. D2005-0037; Red Bull GmbH v. Chai Larbthanasub, WIPO Case No. D2003-0709; America Online, Inc. v. Dolphin@Heart, WIPO Case No. D2000-0713). The addition of the letters “us” does not therefore prevent the disputed domain name from being confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.8.

It is also well accepted that a generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”), in this case “.com”, may be ignored when assessing the confusing similarity between a trademark and a domain name. See WIPO Overview 3.0, section 1.11.

The Panel finds that the Complainant has therefore met its burden of proving that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark, pursuant to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Respondent has failed to file a response in accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5.

The Complainant in its Complaint, and as set out above, has established a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. It asserts that the Respondent, who is not currently associated with the Complainant in any way, is not using the disputed domain name for a legitimate noncommercial or fair use or in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. The disputed domain name was used for an adult website containing pornographic material.

The prima facie case presented by the Complainant is enough to shift the burden of production to the Respondent to demonstrate that it has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. However, the Respondent has not presented any evidence of any rights or legitimate interests it may have in the disputed domain name, and the Panel is unable to establish any such rights or legitimate interests on the basis of the evidence in front of it.

Moreover, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name carries a risk of implied affiliation as it effectively impersonates or suggests sponsorship or endorsement by the Complainant in relation to the United States of America market. See WIPO Overview 3.0., section 2.5.1.

The Panel therefore finds that paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy has been satisfied.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides that “[…] for the purposes of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:

(i) circumstances indicating that [the Respondent has] registered or has 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 the Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of its documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or

(ii) that [the Respondent has] 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 [the Respondent has] engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) that [the Respondent has] registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) that by using the domain name, [the Respondent has] intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [the Respondent’s] 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 [the Respondent’s] website or location or of a product or service on [the Respondent’s] website or location”.

Regarding the registration in bad faith of the disputed domain name, the reputation of the Complainant’s trademark AGFA in the graphic and photographic field is clearly established and the Panel finds that the Respondent likely knew of the Complainant and its trademark and deliberately registered the disputed domain name in bad faith.

The previous use of the disputed domain name by the Respondent to redirect the Internet users to a pornographic website is considered by the Panel as an evidence of the Respondent’s bad faith behavior aimed to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to his website, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s website, in accordance with paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy, as well as diluting and tarnishing the Complainant’s trademark.

As regards the current use of the disputed domain name, pointing to an error webpage, the Panel considers that bad faith may exist even in cases of so-called “passive holding”, as found in the landmark UDRP decision Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003. In the circumstances of this case, the Panel finds that such passive holding amounts to bad faith.

Furthermore, the Panel considers that the nature of the disputed domain name, which is almost identical to the Complainant’s trademark with the mere addition of a geographic code, further supports a finding of bad faith. See, WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.2.1.

The Panel finds that the Complainant has presented evidence to satisfy its burden of proof with respect to the issue of whether the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.

The Panel therefore finds that paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy has been satisfied.

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 <agfaus.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Edoardo Fano
Sole Panelist
Date: December 12, 2021