WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

American Airlines, Inc. v. Privacy Service Provided by Withheld for Privacy ehf / Abdul Malek, Wpfreemart

Case No. D2021-4098

1. The Parties

The Complainant is American Airlines, Inc., United States of America (“United States”), represented by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, United States.

The Respondent is Privacy Service Provided by Withheld for Privacy ehf, Iceland / Abdul Malek, wpfreemart, Bangladesh.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <americanairlinesflightstatus.net> is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 7, 2021. On December 8, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On December 8, 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 December 9, 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 December 12, 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 December 13, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was January 2, 2022. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 6, 2022.

The Center appointed Kaya Köklü as the sole panelist in this matter on January 12, 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 is one of the largest airlines worldwide with a history that dates back to the 1930s.

The Complainant is the owner of the widely known AMERICAN AIRLINES trademark, which is registered in a large number of jurisdictions. For instance, the Complainant is the owner of the International Trademark Registration No. 1266184, registered on December 31, 2014, covering protection in many jurisdictions for various services predominantly related to air transportation (Annexes 9 and 10).

The Complainant further owns and operates a large number of domain names like <americanairlines.com> and the subdomain <aa.com/travelinformation/flights/status> (Annex 6 to the Complaint).

The disputed domain name was registered on April 15, 2020.

The Respondent is reportedly based in Bangladesh.

Previously, the disputed domain name resolved to a website in English language with some general content on the Complainant and other airlines, including articles on alleged job requirements of the Complainant for flight attendants and job interview insides (Annex 11 to the Complaint). The associated website prominently used the AMERICAN AIRLINES trademark, creating the look and feel of an official website operated or at least endorsed by the Complainant. In addition, the current record indicates that an active mail exchange (“MX”) email server for the disputed domain name was configured (Annex 12 to the Complaint).

At the time of the decision, the disputed domain name does no longer resolve to an active website.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain name.

The Complainant is of the opinion that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s AMERICAN AIRLINES trademark, as it fully incorporates the Complainant’s trademark.

Furthermore, the Complainant argues that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.

Finally, it is argued that, given the circumstances of the case, the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

According to paragraph 15(a) of the Rules, the Panel shall decide the Complaint in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.

In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that each of the three following elements is satisfied:

(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark 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.

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy states that the Complainant bears the burden of proving that all these requirements are fulfilled, even if the Respondent has not replied to the Complaint’s contentions. Stanworth Development Limited v. E Net Marketing Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2007-1228.

However, concerning the uncontested information provided by the Complainant, the Panel may, where relevant, accept the provided reasonable factual allegations in the Complaint as true. See, section 4.3 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).

Further, it is stated that the Panel has taken note of the WIPO Overview 3.0 and, where appropriate, will decide consistent with the consensus views captured therein.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel finds that the Complainant has registered trademark rights in the mark AMERICAN AIRLINES by virtue of a large number of trademark registrations worldwide.

The Panel further finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark, as it fully incorporates the AMERICAN AIRLINES trademark. As stated at section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, where the relevant trademark is recognizable within the disputed domain name, the addition of other terms does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity. The mere addition of the terms “flight” and “status”, does, in view of the Panel, not serve to avoid a finding of confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s AMERICAN AIRLINES trademark.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirement under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Panel further finds that the Respondent has failed to demonstrate any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

While the burden of proof on this element remains with the complainant, previous UDRP panels have recognized that this would result in the often impossible task of proving a negative, in particular as the evidence in this regard is often primarily within the knowledge of the respondent. Therefore, the Panel agrees with prior UDRP panels that the Complainant is required to make out a prima facie case before the burden of production shifts to the Respondent to show that it has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name in order to meet the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy. See, Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455.

The Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied this requirement, while the Respondent has failed to file any evidence or make any convincing argument to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name according to the Policy, paragraphs 4(a)(ii) and 4(c).

In its Complaint, the Complainant has provided uncontested prima facie evidence that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests to use the Complainant’s AMERICAN AIRLINES trademark in a confusingly similar way within the disputed domain name.

In the absence of a Response, the Respondent has failed to demonstrate any of the nonexclusive circumstances evidencing rights or legitimate interests under the Policy, paragraph 4(c), or provide any other evidence of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Quite the contrary, and bearing in mind that the Respondent has configured an email server for the disputed domain name, the Panel cannot exclude that the disputed domain name may have been used in connection with possibly fraudulent or at least illegitimate activities.

Also, the Panel notes that the nature of the disputed domain name carries a significant risk of implied affiliation or association, as stated in section 2.5.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0.

Bearing all this in mind, the Panel does not see any basis for assessing a bona fide offering of goods or services by the Respondent.

As a conclusion, the Panel finds that the Complainant has also satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Noting the composition of the disputed domain name, the Panel has no doubt that the Respondent had the Complainant and its AMERICAN AIRLINES trademark in mind when registering and using the disputed domain name. It appears that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name solely for the purpose of creating an association with the Complainant and its flight services.

In this regard, the Panel additionally notes that the Respondent has not published a visible disclaimer on the website linked to the disputed domain name to explain that there is no existing relationship between the Respondent and the Complainant. Rather, the prominent use of the AMERICAN AIRLINE trademark on the website associated to the disputed domain name as well as the nature of the disputed domain name is, in view of the Panel, sufficient evidence that the Respondent intentionally tries to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of its website.

Furthermore, the Panel believes that the active MX records for the disputed domain name create a real or implied ongoing threat to the Complainant, since the disputed domain name can still be used by the Respondent to mislead customers of the Complainant in their false belief that any such respective email origins from the Complainant, possibly for fraudulent activities.

Finally, the Panel finds that the Respondent’s failure to respond to the Complainant’s contentions additionally supports the conclusion that it has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. The Panel is convinced that, if the Respondent had legitimate purposes in registering and using the disputed domain name, it would have probably responded.

The fact that the disputed domain name is currently inactive does not change the Panel’s findings in this respect.

The Panel therefore concludes that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith and that the Complainant has also satisfied the third element of the Policy, namely, paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

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 <americanairlinesflightstatus.net> be transferred to the Complainant.

Kaya Köklü
Sole Panelist
Date: January 26, 2022