WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
LEGO Juris A/S v. PHU C.N.O. Justyna Niedzielska
Case No. DEU2021-0001
1. The Parties
The Complainant is LEGO Juris A/S, Denmark, represented by CSC Digital Brand Services Group AB, Sweden.
The Respondent is PHU C.N.O. Justyna Niedzielska, Poland.
2. The Domain Name, Registry, and Registrar
The Registry of the disputed domain name <lego-land.eu> is the European Registry for Internet Domains (“EURid” or the “Registry”). The Registrar of the disputed domain name is H88 S.A.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 18, 2021. On January 19, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registry a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 20, 2021, the Registry transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the 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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on January 21, 2021. In accordance with the ADR Rules, Paragraph B(3), the due date for Response was March 4, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 5, 2021. Following the Center’s notice of default, the Respondent contacted the Center in Polish just stating that it did not understand English.
The Center appointed Louis-Bernard Buchman as the sole panelist in this matter on March 8, 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 ADR Rules, Paragraph B(5).
Pursuant to the panel’s decision of December 18, 2020, in LEGO Juris A/S v. Justyna Niedzielska, PHU C.N.O. JUSTYNA NIEDZIELSKA, WIPO Case No. DEUL2020-0004, while the language of the registration agreement is Polish, the Complainant’s request for the language of these ADR proceedings to be in English was granted by the panel and accordingly the language of the ADR proceeding shall be English.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant in this administrative proceeding is a limited company incorporated in Denmark.
The Respondent is located in Poland.
The Complainant owns rights in many LEGOLAND trademarks, inter alia European Union Trade Mark no. 000054205, registered on October 5, 1998 (the latter referred to hereinafter as: “the Mark”).
The disputed domain name <lego-land.eu> was registered on May 28, 2020, and resolves to a
Registrar-parking page in Polish.
The Complainant has submitted evidence that it sought to contact the Respondent prior to initiating these proceedings, and that the Respondent offered to sell the disputed domain name at an inflated price.
5. Parties’ Contentions
(i) The Complainant contends that the Mark has been recognised as being famous, and submits that the disputed domain name reproduces the Mark, in which the Complainant has rights, and is confusingly similar to the Mark insofar as the disputed domain name, <lego-land.eu>, contains the element “legoland” in its entirety.
(ii) The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. Furthermore, the Complainant contends that it never authorized the Respondent to use the Mark in any manner and that the Respondent has never had any affiliation with the Complainant.
(iii) The Complainant submits that the Respondent has registered and, by its passive holding, is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
(iv) The Complainant requests that the disputed domain name be transferred to the Complainant.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
6.1. Procedural Aspects: Admissibility of a request to transfer and failure to comply
The Panel finds that the Complainant satisfies the general eligibility criteria for registration set out in Paragraph 4(2)(b) of Regulation (EC) No 733/2002, as amended by Regulation (EU) No 2019/517, and thus that, pursuant to sub-paragraph B11(b) of the ADR Rules, the transfer of the disputed domain name is a remedy available to the Complainant.
Pursuant to sub-paragraph B11(a) of the ADR Rules, the Panel is empowered to decide a Complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted.
Under Paragraph B11(d) of the ADR Rules, it is the Complainant’s burden to establish that all three of the required criteria for granting the remedy sought have been met.
Under the ADR Rules, sub-paragraph B10(a), a failure by the Respondent to comply with any time period is a ground to accept the claims of the Complainant. As noted above, the Respondent has failed to respond within the time period provided.
Under sub-paragraph B10(b) of the ADR Rules, the Panel is empowered to draw from the Respondent’s failure to comply such inferences as it considers appropriate, and under sub-paragraph B7(d) of the ADR Rules, the Panel is empowered to determine in its sole discretion the admissibility, relevance, materiality and weight of the evidence.
In this case, the Panel finds that the Respondent has failed to rebut any of the reasonable factual assertions that are made and supported by evidence submitted by the Complainant.
In particular, by failing to respond, the Respondent has failed to offer the Panel any of the types of evidence set forth in sub-paragraph B11(e) of the ADR Rules or otherwise, from which the Panel might conclude that the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, such as making legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
Moreover, as discussed below, the Respondent has failed to provide any exculpatory information or reasoning that might have led the Panel to question the Complainant’s arguments that the Respondent has acted in bad faith.
6.2. Requirements of sub-paragraph B11(d) of the ADR Rules
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 European Union law
In comparing the Mark with the disputed domain name <lego-land.eu>, it is evident that the latter consists of the Mark, separated in the middle by a hyphen, and followed by the country code Top-Level Domain (“ccTLD”) “.eu”.
It is well established that a ccTLD does not generally affect the assessment of a domain name for the purpose of determining identity or confusingly similarity.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name <lego-land.eu> is nearly identical to the Mark, which is incorporated in its entirety, because the Mark is readily recognizable within the disputed domain name. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), sections 1.8 and 1.9. 1
Thus, the Complainant has satisfied the requirement of sub-paragraph B11(d)(1)(i) of the ADR Rules.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Although a complainant bears the ultimate burden of establishing all three elements of sub-paragraph B11(d)(1) of the ADR Rules, with regard to sub-paragraph B11(d)(1)(ii) of the ADR Rules, this could result in the often impossible task of proving a negative proposition, requiring information that is primarily, if not exclusively, within the knowledge of a respondent.
Thus, the Panel’s view is that sub-paragraph B11(d)(1)(ii) of the ADR Rules shifts the burden of production of evidence to the respondent to come forward with evidence of rights or legitimate interests in a domain name, once the complainant has made a prima facie showing, as the Panel finds the Complainant has made in this case, based on the facts and arguments set out above. For similar views by UDRP panels, see Document Technologies, Inc. v. International Electronic Communications Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0270, and WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.1.
As previously noted, the Respondent offered no reason for selecting the disputed domain name. There is no evidence that the Respondent is known by the disputed domain name or uses (or has made bona fide preparations to use) the disputed domain name in a business or otherwise.
The disputed domain name does not resolve to any active website. The nature of the disputed domain name is such that it carries a high risk of implied affiliation with the Complainant, seeing how the disputed domain name is nearly identical to the Complainant’s trademark with the exception being the disputed domain name use of a hyphen between the words “lego” and “land”.
No information is provided on what rights or legitimate interests the Respondent may have in the disputed domain name.
To counter any notion that the Respondent has such rights or legitimate interests, the Complainant has argued that the Respondent (i) has no affiliation with the Complainant and (ii) received no authorization from the Complainant to register or use the disputed domain name.
In the circumstances, the Panel concludes that the Complainant has established the requirement of
sub-paragraph B11(d)(1)(ii) of the ADR Rules with respect to the disputed domain name.
C. Registered or Used in Bad Faith
As noted above, the Respondent has failed to provide any exculpatory information or persuasive reasoning that might have led the Panel to question the Complainant’s arguments that the Respondent acted in bad faith by creating confusion to the detriment of the Complainant in registering a domain name nearly identical to the Mark.
In this case, given that several UDRP panels have declared the Mark to be famous, the Respondent could have known of it by a mere check of public databases. The Panel notes that the disputed domain name is nearly identical to the Complainant’s Mark, which, in the absence of any explanation of the reasons for the registration by the Respondent, does not seem coincidental, and leads the Panel to infer that the disputed domain name was registered probably to take advantage of the Complainant’s goodwill in the Mark.
Prior UDRP panels have held that the passive holding of a domain name does not prevent a finding of bad faith, especially when its good faith use is in no way plausible, considering the circumstances (see Audi AG v. Hans Wolf, WIPO Case No. D2001-0148).
The Panel finds it is indeed not possible to consider from the circumstances of the case any plausible future active use of the disputed domain name that would not be illegitimate, considering the specificity of the Complainant’s activity and the composition of the disputed domain name.
Moreover, it is well established that the mere passive holding of a domain name may in appropriate circumstances be evidence not only of bad faith registration, but also of bad faith use. See Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003; DCI S.A. v. Link Commercial Corporation, WIPO Case No. D2000-1232; Mary-Lynn Mondich and American Vintage Wine Biscuits, Inc. v. Shane Brown, doing business as Big Daddy’s Antiques, WIPO Case No. D2000-0004; and, Alitalia–Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A v. Colour Digital, WIPO Case No. D2000-1260.
The Panel concludes, notably in the light of the Respondent’s attempt to extort an inflated price for the transfer of the disputed domain name, further to the Complainant’s offering to settle the dispute, and of the Respondent subsequently electing not to provide any substantive defense of its position, that the Respondent’s registration and use of the disputed domain name constitute bad faith, and that the requirement of sub-paragraph B11(d)(1)(iii) of the ADR Rules is also satisfied in this case.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with Paragraph B11 of the ADR Rules, the Panel orders that the disputed domain name, <lego-land.eu>, be transferred to the Complainant. The decision shall be implemented by the Registry within thirty (30) days after the notification of the decision to the Parties, unless the Respondent initiates court proceedings in a Mutual Jurisdiction, as defined in Paragraph A1 of the ADR Rules.
Date: March 9, 2021
1 Noting the similarities between the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “UDRP”) and the ADR rules, the Panel has referred to prior UDRP cases and the WIPO Overview 3.0, where appropriate.