WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Stichting Hanzehogeschool Groningen v. Kirsch Manuela
Case No. DEU2019-0003
1. The Parties
Complainant is Stichting Hanzehogeschool Groningen of Groningen, the Netherlands, represented by V.O. Patents & Trademarks, the Netherlands.
Respondent is Kirsch Manuela of Fraureuth, Germany.
2. The Domain Name, Registry, and Registrar
The Registry of the disputed domain name <hanzeuniversity.eu> is the European Registry for Internet Domains (“EURid” or the “Registry”). The Registrar of the disputed domain name is EuroDNS S.A.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 28, 2019. On the same day, the Center transmitted by email to the Registry a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On March 1, 2019, the Registry transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details.
The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the .eu Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules (the “ADR Rules”) and the World Intellectual Property Organization Supplemental Rules for .eu Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules (the “Supplemental Rules”).
In accordance with the ADR Rules, Paragraph B(2), the Center formally notified Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on March 5, 2019. In accordance with the ADR Rules, Paragraph B(3), the due date for Response was April 16, 2019. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on April 17, 2019.
The Center appointed Marina Perraki as the sole panelist in this matter on May 1, 2019. 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 ADR Rules, Paragraph B(5).
4. Factual Background
According to the Complaint, Complainant is an institute which offers college education and courses, including courses in the field of business administration. Complainant runs the oldest multi-sectoral college in the Netherlands and has been offering education services for over 215 years. Complainant also participates in college exchange programs and as a result, also offers education to foreign students.
Per Complaint, Complainant has been offering and advertising its educational services through the website “www.hanze.nl” and otherwise under the trade name “Hanze University (of applied sciences)” for many years and in any case prior to the registration of the disputed domain name. Hanze college is the English translation of the Dutch term Hanzehogeschool.
Complainant is the owner of the following, inter alia, trademarks:
- Benelux trademark registration no. 810189 HANZEHOGESCHOOL, filed on October 13, 2006, registered on January 5, 2007, for goods and services in international classes 16, 35, 41, and 42;
- Benelux trademark registration no. 811021 HANZEHOGESCHOOL GRONINGEN (device), filed on October 13, 2006, registered on January 5, 2007, for goods and services in international classes 16, 35, 41, and 42.
The disputed domain name was registered on July 23, 2018, and resolves to a website (henceforth: the “Website”) appearing to offer educational services, while displaying information and links to various commercial third-party sites, including an escort agency.
As per Complaint, the Website appears to be the website of an institution named “Hanzev University”. No concrete information of Respondent or the Hanzev university or the education offered by it, is provided on the Website. There is a contact form which shows no actual data. None of the webpages, other than the home page, contain any information. Internet users cannot click on any links regarding the education allegedly offered. The only links that the visitor to the website can click on are the hyperlinks that lead to third-party commercial websites. As Complainant demonstrated, the corresponding domain name <hanzev.eu> is currently available for registration. On the Website appears also, as the very first post, a post reading “Home - Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen - 29 March, 2018”.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant asserts that it has established all elements required under Article 21(1) of the Commission Regulation (EU) No. 874/2004 (“the Regulation”) and Paragraph B(11)(d)(1) of the ADR Rules for a transfer or revocation of the disputed domain name.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Under Article 21(1) of the Regulation and Paragraph B(11)(d)(1) of the ADR Rules, in order for the Complaint to succeed, it is for Complainant to establish:
(i) that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a name in respect of which a right is recognized or established by the national law of a Member State and/or Community law and; either
(ii) that the disputed domain name has been registered by Respondent without rights or legitimate interest in the name; or
(iii) that the domain name has been registered or is being used in bad faith.
Furthermore Article 22(10) of the Regulation provides that “[f]ailure of any of the parties involved in an ADR procedure to respond within the given deadlines or appear to a panel hearing may be considered as grounds to accept the claims of the counterparty”.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar to a name in respect of which a right or rights are recognized or established by national law of a Member State and/or Community law
Complainant has demonstrated rights through registration and use on the HANZEHOGESCHOOL (mark.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name <hanzeuniversity.eu> is confusingly similar to the HANZEHOGESCHOOL trademark of Complainant.
The disputed domain name incorporates the HANZE portion of the trademark in an identical form. This is sufficient to establish confusing similarity (WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.14; Magnum Piering, Inc. v. The Mudjackers and Garwood S. Wilson, Sr., WIPO Case No. D2000-1525 ).
The country code Top-Level Domain (“ccTLD”) “.eu” is disregarded, as ccTLDs typically do not form part of the comparison on the grounds that they are required for technical reasons only (Samuel Hubbard Shoe Company LLC and Werner Wyrsch v. Cyrus Jennings, WIPO Case No. DEU2018-0007).
The Panel therefore finds that Complainant has established the first element of Article 21(1) of the Regulation and Paragraph B(11)(d)(1)(i) of the ADR Rules.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Under Paragraph B(11)(e) of the ADR Rules, a respondent may demonstrate its rights or legitimate interests to the domain name for purposes of Paragraph B(11)(d)(1)(ii) by showing any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation:
(1) prior to any notice of the dispute, the respondent has used the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with the offering of goods or services or has made demonstrable preparation to do so;
(2) the respondent, being an undertaking, organization or natural person, has been commonly known by the domain name, even in the absence of a right recognized or established by national and/or Community law;
(3) the respondent is making a legitimate and noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent to mislead consumers or harm the reputation of a name in which a right is recognized or established by national law and/or Community law.
The Panel concludes that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
Respondent has not submitted any response and has not claimed any rights or legitimate interests in respect to the disputed domain name. As per Complainant, Respondent was not authorized to register the disputed domain name.
Complainant has established that it has no relation with Respondent and has never authorized Respondent to use the HANZEHOGESCHOOL trademark in any way and that Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name.
Complainant has demonstrated that Respondent used the disputed domain name to host a website appearing to be the site of an educational institution under the name Hanzev University. At the same time, on the Website appears a post reading “Home - Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen - 29 March, 2018”, a post that gives the impression that the Website is Complainant’s website.
Furthermore, in reality the Website does not provide any information on educational services and/or Hanzev university, and/or Respondent, as Internet users cannot click on any links regarding education services and the contact form shows no actual data. On the contrary, the Website provides information and advertising of a variety of non-educational goods and services, namely wedding rings, mattresses, insurance, and escort services, displaying hyperlinks which re-direct Internet users to the respective third party websites from which the said goods and/or services can be purchased.
These circumstances do not confer upon Respondent any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
Respondent did not demonstrate any use of the disputed domain name or a trademark corresponding to the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.
Complainant has established Article 21(1) of the Regulation and Paragraph B(11)(d)(1)(ii) of the ADR Rules.
C. Registered or Used in Bad Faith
There is no need to separately address bad faith registration or use, in view of Panel’s finding that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. However, in this case the Panel briefly considers that the disputed domain name has also been registered and used in bad faith.
Because the HANZEHOGESCHOOL mark had been used and registered by Complainant at the time of the disputed domain name registration, the Panel finds it more likely than not that Respondent had Complainant’s mark in mind when registering this disputed domain name (Tudor Games, Inc. v. Domain Hostmaster, Customer ID No. 09382953107339 dba Whois Privacy Services Pty Ltd / Domain Administrator, Vertical Axis Inc., WIPO Case No. D2014-1754; Parfums Christian Dior v. Javier Garcia Quintas, WIPO Case No. D2000-0226).
Furthermore, the content of the Website gives the impression that it provides educational services, namely services in the same field of business as those provided by Complainant, indicating Hanzev University as the provider of those services. The fact that this entity has a similar name to that of Complainant, whereas at the same time it includes a post reading “Home - Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen - 29 March, 2018”, gives the false impression that the Website emanates from Complainant. This further supports registration in bad faith (See, WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.1.4), reinforcing the likelihood of confusion, as Internet users are likely to consider the disputed domain name as in some way endorsed by or connected with Complainant (Ann Summers Limited v. Domains By Proxy, LLC / Mingchun Chen, supra; Marie Claire Album v. Whoisguard Protected, Whoisguard, Inc. / Dexter Ouwehand, DO, WIPO Case No. D2017-1367).
The above indicate that Respondent knew of Complainant and chose the disputed domain name with knowledge of Complainant and its industry (Safepay Malta Limited v. ICS Inc., WIPO Case No. D2015‑0403).
Furthermore, Respondent could have conducted a trademark search and should have found Complainant’s prior registration in respect of HANZEHOGESCHOOL (Citrix Online LLC v. Ramalinga Reddy Sanikommu Venkata, WIPO Case No. D2012-1338).
Furthermore, such knowledge is readily obtainable through a simple browser search due to Complainant’s use of the HANZEHOGESCHOOL mark on the Internet (“www.hanze.nl”) (Caesars World, Inc. v. Forum LLC, WIPO Case No. D2005-0517; Compart AG v. Compart.com / Vertical Axis Inc., WIPO Case No. D2009-0462).
This also in view of the fact that Complainant owned in the past a) the Benelux trademark registration no. 844643 HANZE UNIVERSITY. TURNING AMBITION INTO SUCCESS, filed on May 23, 2008, for goods and services in classes 16, 35, 41 and 42, and b) the disputed domain name, both of which were due to an oversight not renewed by Complainant.
As regards bad faith use, Complainant has demonstrated that the disputed domain name was employed to host a Website which appears to offer educational services, but in reality it contains only general statements about education and no actual information on courses or other educational services. The visitor cannot click on any link regarding the education allegedly offered. Furthermore, the unrelated to education articles shown at the bottom part of the home page contain hyperlinks that re-direct to commercial third party websites. One of those articles and hyperlinks concern an escort agency. The disputed domain name use therefore tarnishes Complainant’s reputation within the field of education by suggesting a connection between Complainant and inter alia services of an escort agency. This is an indication of bad faith use (WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.12; Christian Dior Couture v. Identity Protection Service / Tom Birkett, WIPO Case No. D2014-1053).
Lastly, as Complainant demonstrated, Respondent could have registered and used the <hanzevuniveristy.eu> domain name, corresponding to the Hanzev University logo that appears on the Website, as this domain name is available for registration. Instead Respondent chose to register and use the disputed domain name. It follows that Respondent has registered and uses the disputed domain name in order to prevent Complainant from reflecting its trademark and trade name in its own corresponding domain name and to disrupt its business.
Under these circumstances and on this record, the Panel finds that Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Complainant has established the third element of Article 21(1) of the Regulation and Paragraph B(11)(d)(1)(iii) of the ADR Rules.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with Paragraph B(11) of the ADR Rules, the Panel orders that the disputed domain name <hanzeuniversity.eu> be transferred to Complainant.2
Date: May 20, 2019
1 Given the similarities between the ADR Rules and the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP”) the Panel will refer to the UDRP jurisprudence where instructive.