WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW) v. Privacy Protection
Case No. D2021-4321
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW), Germany, represented by Bird & Bird LLP, Germany.
The Respondent is Privacy Protection, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <lbbwinvest.com> is registered with Hosting Concepts B.V. d/b/a Registrar.eu. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 21, 2021. On December 21, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On December 22, 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 22, 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 December 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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on December 28, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was January 17, 2022. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 18, 2022.
The Center appointed Gareth Dickson as the sole panelist in this matter on January 26, 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 a commercial bank based in Germany, providing financial services to a wide range of customers across the globe.
The Complainant is the owner of a number of trade mark registrations for LBBW (the “Mark”) around the world, including:
- German trade mark registration number 399217142, registered on August 23, 1999; and
- European Union Trade Mark registration number 001139450, registered on July 13, 2000.
The Complainant owns the domain name <lbbw.de> and has always concluded its business under its commercial name “LBBW” since its establishment in 1999.
The Complainant’s use and registration as a trade mark of the Mark pre-dates the registration of the disputed domain name, which was registered on October 20, 2021. The disputed domain name is currently inactive, at least insofar as it does not point to any active website.
5. Parties’ Contentions
In its admirably concise Complaint, the Complainant argues that it has rights in the Mark by virtue of its ownership of various trade mark registrations for the Mark around the world. It contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Mark since it incorporates the Mark (which is recognisable within the disputed domain name) with the addition of the word “invest”, under the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com”. The Complainant further contends that the use of the word “invest” increases the likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s Mark, as it refers to the Complainant’s business activities in the field of banking and finance.
The Complainant confirms that the disputed domain name was registered by the Respondent without its permission and that the Respondent is not a licensee of the Complainant. It alleges that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name with the intention to attract Internet users to the website for its own commercial gain, by creating a likelihood of confusion.
The Complainant submits that there is no evidence to suggest that the Respondent: has been commonly known by the disputed domain name; is making, or intends to make, a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of it or has ever used or demonstrated preparations to use it in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. The Complainant notes too that the Respondent has used a privacy service to conceal its identity for as long as possible and presumes that the Respondent has used a false address when registering the disputed domain name.
The Complainant submits that the Respondent must have known of the Complainant and the Mark when it registered the disputed domain name and therefore registered it and is using it in bad faith. The Mark, according to the Complainant, enjoys a “fairly high degree of distinctiveness and reputation” and is well-known in many countries; further, the addition of the word “invest” in the disputed domain name also suggests that the Respondent knew of the Mark and the Complainant’s interest in it when it registered the disputed domain name and that it registered it in bad faith.
Finally, the Complainant contends that the passive holding of a domain name remains a use in bad faith under the Policy.
Together, the Complainant submits that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant bears the burden of proving that:
a) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
b) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
c) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
These criteria are cumulative. The failure of the Complainant to prove any one of these elements means the Complaint must be denied.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel accepts that the Complainant is the owner of, and therefore has rights in, the Mark.
Section 1.7 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition, (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) provides that: “[I]n cases where a domain name incorporates the entirety of a trademark, or where at least a dominant feature of the relevant mark is recognizable in the domain name, the domain name will normally be considered confusingly similar to that mark for purposes of UDRP standing”.
Section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 further provides that: “Where the relevant trademark is recognizable within the disputed domain name, the addition of other terms (whether descriptive, geographical, pejorative, meaningless, or otherwise) would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity under the first element”.
The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Mark, since the disputed domain name incorporates the Mark in its entirety. The addition in the disputed domain name of the word “invest” does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity, nor does the gTLD “.com”.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trade mark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Although a complainant is required to demonstrate that a respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name, as explained in section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, the consensus view of previous UDRP panels is that where a complainant establishes a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests the burden of production on this element shifts to the respondent to come forward with relevant evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If the respondent fails to come forward with such relevant evidence, the complainant is deemed to have satisfied the second element.
In the current proceeding, the Complainant has established its prima facie case. The evidence before the Panel is that the Mark is neither generic nor descriptive but enjoys a degree of inherent distinctiveness that makes a coincidental adoption by the Respondent highly unlikely. The Complainant states that it has not given the Respondent permission to use the Mark, in a domain name or otherwise, and submits that the Respondent has not been commonly known by the disputed domain name.
There is no evidence that the Respondent has acquired any common law rights to use the Mark, is commonly known by the Mark or has chosen to use the Mark in the disputed domain name in any descriptive manner or is making any use of the disputed domain name that would establish rights or legitimate interests as a result of a noncommercial or fair use of it.
By not participating in these proceedings, the Respondent has failed to refute the Complainant’s prima facie case that it has met its burden under the second UDRP element.
As clearly stated in section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, “a panel’s assessment will normally be made on the basis of the evidence presented in the complaint and any filed response. The panel may draw inferences from the absence of a response as it considers appropriate, but will weigh all available evidence irrespective of whether a response is filed”. Having reviewed and weighed the available evidence, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel notes that the Complainant has been using the Mark for over 20 years, and that the disputed domain name was registered many years after the Mark was registered.
As a result, and in the absence of evidence from the Respondent that the similarity of the disputed domain name to the Mark is coincidental, the Panel must conclude that the Respondent knew of the Complainant’s rights in the Mark when it registered the disputed domain name, and did so register it because of its similarity to the Mark.
The Panel therefore finds that the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name was in bad faith since it attempted to appropriate for the Respondent, without the consent or authorisation of the Complainant, rights in the Complainant’s Mark.
The disputed domain name is also being used in bad faith. Although the disputed domain name does not currently resolve to a website, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is being used in bad faith under the doctrine of passive holding.
Section 3.3 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 states that relevant factors to finding bad faith in passive holding include:
“(i) the degree of distinctiveness or reputation of the complainant’s mark;
(ii) the failure of the respondent to submit a response or to provide any evidence of actual or contemplated good-faith use;
(iii) the respondent’s concealing its identity […], and
(iv) the implausibility of any good faith use to which the domain name may be put.”
The Panel notes that the Mark is distinctive of the Complainant and further notes that the Respondent has not participated in these proceedings or sought to explain its registration and use of the disputed domain name, and has sought to conceal its identity through a privacy service. Furthermore, there is no conceivable use of the disputed domain name by the Respondent that would not be illegitimate, and therefore there is no basis for the Panel to conclude that the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name is justified.
Therefore, and on the basis of the information available to it, the Panel finds that the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name is without justification and is inconsistent with the Complainant’s exclusive rights in the Mark. Consideration of these and other factors militates in favour of a finding of bad faith.
The Panel finds that the Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith.
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, <lbbwinvest.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: February 10, 2022