WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Basic Trademarks S.R.L. v. Domain Admin, Whoisprotection.cc / Uta Werner
Case No. D2021-3588
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Basic Trademarks S.R.L., Italy, represented by Studio Sindico e Associate, Italy.
The Respondent is Domain Admin, Whoisprotection.cc, Malaysia / Uta Werner, Germany.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <superga-japan.com> (hereafter referred to as the “Disputed Domain Name”) is registered with Mat Bao Corporation (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 28, 2021. On October 28, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Name. On October 29, 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 November 10, 2021, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. By email of November 11, 2021, the Complainant confirmed that it wanted to add the Registrar-provided registrant information to the Complaint without amending it any further.
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 November 19, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 9, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 27, 2021.
The Center appointed Flip Jan Claude Petillion as the sole panelist in this matter on January 11, 2022. 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 Complainant, Basic Trademark S.r.l., is an Italian company which is part of the BasicNet Group, active in the design and marketing of clothing, footwear and accessories.
The Complainant is the holder of numerous trademarks worldwide protecting the term SUPERGA, including the following:
- SUPERGA, Japanese word mark registered on November 30, 1988, under No. 2095183 in Class 25;
- SUPERGA, European Union word mark registered on December 10, 2004, under No. 003181492 in Classes 3, 9, 14, 16, 18 and 25;
- SUPERGA, international word mark registered on July 8, 2009, under No. 1018404 in Classes 3, 9, 18 and 25.
The Disputed Domain Name was registered on September 17, 2021. According to evidence provided by the Complainant, the Disputed Domain Name referred to a website which is similar to the Complainant’s official website. At the time of this Decision, the Disputed Domain Name resolves to an inactive website.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant considers the Disputed Domain Name to be confusingly similar to a trademark in which it claims to have rights. The Complainant further claims that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Name, because the Complainant has never authorized any third party to register any domain names including its mark. Finally, the Complainant claims that the Disputed Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. According to the Complainant, the Respondent knew, or at least should have known, that the registration of the disputed domain name without permission of the Complainant would constitute bad faith. The Complainant claims that the use of the Disputed Domain Name is an intentional attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent’s website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15 of the Rules provides that the Panel is to decide the Complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, the Rules, and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.
The onus is on the Complainant to make out his case and it is apparent, both from the terms of the Policy and the decisions of past UDRP panels, that the Complainant must show that all three elements set out in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been established before any order can be made to transfer the Disputed Domain Name. As the UDRP proceedings are administrative, the standard of proof is the balance of probabilities.
Thus, for the Complainant to succeed it must prove, within the meaning of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, that:
(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.
The Panel will therefore deal with each of these requirements.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
To prove this element, the Complainant must first establish that there is a trademark or service mark in which it has rights. The Complainant has clearly established that there are trademarks in which it has rights. The Complainant’s SUPERGA trademarks have been registered and used in connection to the Complainant’s clothing and footwear business.
The Disputed Domain Name <superga-japan.com> incorporates the Complainant’s SUPERGA marks in their entirety, simply adding a hyphen and the term “japan”. Where the relevant trademark is recognizable within the Disputed Domain Name, the addition of other descriptive or geographical terms would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity under the first element (see section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).
Additionally, it is well-established that the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”), here “.com”, may be disregarded when considering whether the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
In light of the above, the Panel considers the Disputed Domain Name to be confusingly similar to the Complainant’s SUPERGA trademarks.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, the Complainant has the burden of establishing that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Name.
As established by previous UDRP panels, it is sufficient for the Complainant to make a prima facie showing that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name in order to place the burden of production on the Respondent (see section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).
The Panel notes that the Respondent has not apparently been commonly known by the Disputed Domain Name and that the Respondent does not seem to have acquired trademark or service mark rights. According to the information provided by the Registrar, the Respondent is “Uta Werner”. The Respondent’s use and registration of the Disputed Domain Name was not authorized by the Complainant.
Where a domain name consists of a trademark plus an additional term, UDRP panels have largely held that such composition cannot constitute fair use if it effectively impersonates or suggests sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark owner (see section 2.5.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0). The Disputed Domain Name incorporates the Complainant’s SUPERGA trademarks in their entirety and adds the geographical term “japan”. Given the Complainant’s global activities including in Japan through the domain names <superga.jp> and <superga-onlineshop.jp>, the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Name carries a risk of implied affiliation with the Complainant and cannot constitute fair use.
Beyond looking at the domain name and the nature of any additional terms appended to it, UDRP panels assess whether the overall facts and circumstances of the case, such as the content of the website linked to the disputed domain name and the absence of a response, support a fair use or not (see sections 2.5.2 and 2.5.3 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).
According to evidence provided by the Complainant, the Disputed Domain Name referred to a website which is similar to the Complainant’s official website. The Panel observes that the website linked to the Disputed Domain Name even reproduced the logo used on the Complainant’s official website and appeared to offer the Complainant’s products for sale. The Panel finds that this cannot amount to a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Disputed Domain Name.
The Respondent had the opportunity to demonstrate its rights or legitimate interests but did not do so. In the absence of a Response from the Respondent, the prima facie case established by the Complainant has not been rebutted.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the Complainant has established that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name. In light of the above, the Complainant succeeds on the second element of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant must prove on the balance of probabilities both that the Disputed Domain Name was registered in bad faith and that it is being used in bad faith (see section 4.2 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 and, for example, Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003 and Control Techniques Limited v. Lektronix Ltd, WIPO Case No. D2006-1052).
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides a non-exclusive list of factors, any one of which may demonstrate bad faith. Among these factors demonstrating bad faith registration and use is the use of a domain name to intentionally attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to a 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 website or location or of a product or service on the website or location.
In the present case, the Panel finds that it is inconceivable that the Respondent was unaware of the Complainant and its trademark rights when it registered the Disputed Domain Name:
- The Disputed Domain Name includes the Complainant’s distinctive and well-known SUPERGA trademark in its entirety. This trademark is registered for more than a decade in the European Union, where the Respondent is located;
- The website linked to the Disputed Domain Name was clearly based on the Complainant’s official website. It included the Complainant’s logo and appeared to offer the Complainant’s products for sale.
In the Panel’s view, the Respondent’s awareness of the Complainant’s trademark rights at the time of registration suggests bad faith (see Red Bull GmbH v. Credit du Léman SA, Jean-Denis Deletraz, WIPO Case No. D2011-2209; BellSouth Intellectual Property Corporation v. Serena, Axel, WIPO Case No. D2006-0007, where it was held that the respondent acted in bad faith when registering the disputed domain name, because widespread and long-standing advertising and marketing of goods and services under the trademarks in question, the inclusion of the entire trademark in the domain name, and the similarity of products implied by addition of a telecommunications services suffix (“voip”) suggested knowledge of the complainant’s rights in the trademarks).
The Respondent has used the Disputed Domain Name to resolve to a website similar to the Complainant’s official website. In the Panel’s view, this indicates that the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract Internet users to its website for commercial gain by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark.
By failing to respond to the Complaint, the Respondent did not take any initiative to contest the foregoing. Pursuant to paragraph 14 of the Rules, the Panel may draw the conclusions it considers appropriate.
Therefore, the Panel finds that, on the balance of probabilities, it is established that the Disputed Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. In light of the above, the Complainant also succeeds on the third and last element 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 Disputed Domain Name <superga-japan.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: January 25, 2022