WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Robert Bosch GmbH v. Vahid Rouzafzay
Case No. DIR2018-0007
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Robert Bosch GmbH of Gerlingen-Schillerhöhe, Germany, represented Navid Rahbar Sato, Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Respondent is Vahid Rouzafzay of Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, self-represented.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <bosch.ir> is registered with IRNIC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on March 16, 2018. On March 16, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to IRNIC a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On March 18, 2018, 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 April 9, 2018.
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 April 12, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was May 2, 2018. The Center received two email communications from the Respondent on April 25 and 27, 2018. The Center notified the Parties the commencement of the panel appointment process on May 4, 2018.
The Center appointed Andrew F. Christie as the sole panelist in this matter on May 11, 2018. 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 company that was established and registered under the laws of Germany in 1886. It is one of the world's largest suppliers of automotive components. Its core business includes, in addition to automotive components, industrial products, household appliances and security systems. It has registered and uses the domain names <bosch.com> and <bosch-home.com> to operate globally.
The Complainant has trademark registrations for its word trademark BOSCH in a large number of countries, including in the Islamic Republic of Iran (Registration No. 8099, filed on February 11, 1951 and currently in force). It has been marketing its products in the Islamic Republic of Iran since the 1950s.
The disputed domain name was first registered on December 22, 2003. The Registry has stated that the date of registration by the current registrant is March 15, 2017. The disputed domain name does not resolve to an active website.
On January 6, 2018, the Complainant, through its attorney, sent a cease and desist letter to the Respondent requesting him to stop using the disputed domain name. The Respondent then contacted the Complainant's attorney asking for an appointment. A meeting was held between the Respondent and the Complainant's attorney on January 10, 2018, during which the Respondent expressed his interest in transferring the disputed domain name to the Complainant subject to payment of a specified sum of money. Although the price was not recorded in the minutes of the meeting, the Complainant asserts that the price put forward by the Respondent was USD 100,000.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights because: (i) the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant's registered BOSCH trademark; (ii) it is well established that a Top-Level Domain ("TLD") suffix does not serve the purpose of creating a distinction between the disputed domain name and the Complainant's trademark; and (iii) the disputed domain name may create the impression amongst consumers that the holder of it is a legitimate representative of the Complainant, thereby adding to consumer confusion.
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name because: (i) the Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use any of the Complainant's trademarks, or to apply for or use any domain names incorporating any of those trademarks; (ii) there is no association between the Respondent and the Complainant; (iii) there is no evidence of the Respondent's use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services; (iv) the Respondent has never been commonly known by the disputed domain name; and (v) the Respondent is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith because: (i) it is highly unlikely that the Respondent was unaware of the Complainant's rights by the time he registered the disputed domain name, given that BOSCH is a well-known trademark with more than 65 years of activity in the Islamic Republic of Iran; (ii) the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in a clear attempt to appear somehow related to the Complainant, therefore having a clear intention of creating a likelihood of confusion with the BOSCH trademark; (iii) an offer to sell the disputed domain name for valuable consideration in excess of the documented out-of-pocket costs of the Respondent conclusively establishes that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith; and (iv) the registration of the disputed domain name by the Respondent prevents the owner of the BOSCH trademark, the Complainant, from reflecting that trademark in a corresponding domain name.
The Respondent did not file a formal response. The Respondent did, however, send two emails to the Center, on April 25 and 27, 2018, respectively. In his April 25, 2018, email the Respondent stated, among other things, "I have not made any commercial use of this domain, and this domain is not active and I have not made any requests for the transfer of funds in exchange for money". On April 27, 2018, the Center sent an email to the Respondent asking if the April 25 email was his complete response. The Respondent's email reply on April 27, 2018, did not address the Center's enquiry but stated, amongst other things, "I am endorsing my statements and reiterating that I have sole ownership of this domain with respect to the domain bosch.ir and that all charges against me have been violated. I declare that I have not used any illegal or unlawful use of this domain, and this domain has never been active since my ownership."
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Once the country-code TLD ".ir" is ignored (which is appropriate in this case), the disputed domain name consists solely of the Complainant's registered word trademark BOSCH. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is identical to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent is not a licensee of, or otherwise affiliated with, the Complainant, and has not been authorized by the Complainant to use its BOSCH trademark. The Respondent has not provided any evidence that it has been commonly known by, or has made a bona fide use of, the disputed domain name, or that it has, for any other reason, rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. According to the present record, therefore, the disputed domain name is not being used in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, or for a legitimate noncommercial or fair use. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered or Used in Bad Faith
The disputed domain name was registered many years after the Complainant first registered its BOSCH trademark. The evidence on the record provided by the Complainant with respect to the use of its BOSCH trademark, combined with the absence of any evidence provided by the Respondent to the contrary, is sufficient to satisfy the Panel that, at the time of registration of the disputed domain name, the Respondent knew of the Complainant's trademark and knew that he had no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. In the Panel's view, that establishes that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Complainant asserted that the Respondent sought a meeting with the Complainant's representative and at that meeting offered to sell the disputed domain name to the Complainant for a sum of USD 100,000. While the Respondent denied the assertion that it offered to sell the disputed domain name to the Complainant, he did not deny that such a meeting took place. Given that there was no pre-existing relationship between the Respondent and the Complainant, the Panel considers that the most plausible reason for the Respondent seeking and participating in the meeting was to offer to sell the disputed domain name to the Complainant. The Panel finds, on the balance of probabilities, that the Respondent did offer to sell the disputed domain name to the Complainant at the meeting and that the sum at which he offered to do so was in excess of his out-of-pocket expenses. By virtue of paragraph 4(b)(i) of the Policy, that is evidence of the registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith.
For both of the foregoing reasons, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name has been registered or is being used 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 <bosch.ir> be transferred to the Complainant.
Andrew F. Christie
Date: May 25, 2018