WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Arla Foods Amba v. MohammaD Sherafatian

Case No. DIR2016-0033

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Arla Foods Amba of Viby J, Denmark, represented by BrandIT GmbH, Switzerland.

The Respondent is MohammaD Sherafatian of Shiraz, Islamic Republic of Iran.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <arlafoods.ir> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with IRNIC.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 10, 2016. On October 10, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to IRNIC a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On October 16, 2016, IRNIC transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. Hard copies of the Complaint were received by the Center on October 13, 2016.

The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the .ir Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “irDRP”), the Rules for .ir Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Rules”), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for .ir Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Supplemental Rules”).

In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on October 25, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was November 14, 2016. The Respondent did not submit a Response. On November 15, 2016, the Center notified the Respondent’s default.

The Center appointed Ian Lowe as the sole panelist in this matter on November 25, 2016. 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 global dairy company and co-operative owned by 12,650 dairy farmers in seven countries. It is the largest producer of dairy products in Scandinavia and has operations worldwide, including in the Middle East where it began exporting products over 60 years ago. The Complainant has over 19,000 employees worldwide and achieved global revenue of EUR 10.3 billion in 2015.

The Complainant is the proprietor of numerous trademark registrations around the world in respect of the mark ARLA, both as a word mark and a device mark, including International Registration number 731917 for ARLA, registered on March 20, 2000 and International Registration number 990596 for “Arla” and device registered on September 8, 2008, both designating the Islamic Republic of Iran amongst many other territories. The Complainant is also the registered proprietor of Denmark trademark number VR 2000 01185 for ARLA FOODS, registered on March 6, 2000.

The Domain Name was registered by the Respondent on December 6, 2015. The Domain Name does not resolve to a website and does not appear to have been used for a website. The Respondent did not respond to a cease-and-desist letter sent on behalf of the Complainant on September 1, 2016.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to its ARLA and ARLA FOODS trademarks, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name and that the Respondent registered or is using the Domain Name in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, for this Complaint to succeed in relation to the Domain Name the Complainant must prove that:

(i) the 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 Domain Name; and

(iii) the Domain Name has been registered or is being used in bad faith.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant has uncontested rights in the trademarks ARLA and ARLA FOODS, both by virtue of its many trademark registrations around the world and as a result of its widespread goodwill and reputation acquired through use of the ARLA mark over many years. Ignoring the country code Top-Level Domain (“ccTLD”) for the Islamic Republic of Iran, namely “.ir”, the Domain Name comprises the entirety of the Complainant’s mark ARLA together with the generic word “foods” or, alternatively, the entirety of the Complainant’s mark ARLA FOODS. To the extent that it may be relevant, the additional word “foods” does not detract from the distinctiveness of the ARLA mark, but rather increases the confusing similarity because of the Complainant’s use of the mark for food products and because the name of the Complainant is Arla Foods. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Complainant has made out a strong prima facie case that the Respondent could have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. The Respondent has failed to respond to the Complaint or to counter the prima facie case established by the Complainant. On the record before the Panel, there is no evidence or contention that the Respondent has made use of the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, and there is no suggestion that it has ever been known by the Domain Name. In the circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.

C. Registered or Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant started to use the ARLA brand worldwide and in the Middle East more than 16 years ago. In the circumstances and in light of the nature of the Domain Name the Panel considers it most likely on the balance of probabilities that the Respondent must have had the Complainant and its rights in the ARLA mark and name in mind when it registered the Domain Name. The Respondent has not used the Domain Name and the Panel cannot conceive of any legitimate purpose for which the Respondent could have registered the Domain Name. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent registered or used the Domain Name in bad faith.

7. Decision

For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(a) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <arlafoods.ir> be transferred to the Complainant.

Ian Lowe
Sole Panelist
Date: December 4, 2016