WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Line Corporation v. LINE Cooperation
Case No. DME2020-0002
1. The Parties
Complainant is Line Corporation, Japan, represented by The GigaLaw Firm, Douglas M. Isenberg, Attorney at Law, LLC, United States of America.
Respondent is Line Cooperation, Thailand.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <lineapps.me> (“Domain Name”) is registered with Name.com, Inc. (Name.com LLC) (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 17, 2020. On March 17, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On March 23, 2020, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Domain Name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to Complainant on March 24, 2020, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint, on March 24, 2020.
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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on March 25, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was April 14, 2020. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on April 15, 2020.
The Center appointed Marina Perraki as the sole panelist in this matter on April 22, 2020. 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
Per Complaint, Complainant is a Japanese corporation, that was conceived as a mobile messaging service initially and has grown into a social platform with hundreds of millions users worldwide, particularly in Asia. Complainant’s services include LINE, the fastest, per Complainant, growing mobile phone messenger application; and LINE PAY, a payment platform.
Complainant is the owner of numerous trademark registrations around the world consisting of or including the word LINE, such as Japanese trademark registration No. 5,534,399, LINE (word), registered on November 9, 2012, for services in international class 45; United States trademark registration No. 5,197,512, LINE (word), registered on May 2, 2017; Japanese trademark registration No. 5,577,357, LINE (word), registered on April 26, 2013, for goods in international class 28; and, Japanese trademark registration No. 5,559,847, LINE占い (word), registered on February 22, 2013, for services in international class 45.
Complainant is also the owner of, inter alia, the domain name <line.me>, which was registered on April 29, 2008.
The Domain Name was created on May 18, 2019, and currently resolves to an inactive website. Furthermore, the Domain Name, per Complainant, was used to impersonate Complainant by offering access to Complainant’s LINE services at the following URL which, when opened by users who had Complainant’s LINE app installed on their smartphones, allowed for the collection of their data:
On January 29, 2020, Complainant sent a cease and desist letter to Respondent, to which Respondent did not reply.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant asserts that it has established all three elements required under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy for a transfer of the Domain Name.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists the three elements that Complainant must satisfy with respect to the Domain Name:
(i) the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and
(iii) the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Domain Name incorporates Complainant’s trademark LINE in its entirety. This is sufficient to establish confusing similarity (Magnum Piering, Inc. v. The Mudjackers and Garwood S. Wilson, Sr., WIPO Case No. D2000-1525).
The word “app”, short for “application”, which is added in the Domain Name is disregarded as it is a
non-distinctive term (BHP Billiton Innovation Pty Ltd v. Oloyi, WIPO Case No. D2017-0284; Accenture Global Services Limited v. Jean Jacque / Luck Loic, WIPO Case No. D2016-1315; Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co LLP v. Registration Private, Domains by Proxy LLC / Ian Piggin, WIPO Case No. D2015-0135; WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.8).
The country-code Top-Level Domain (“ccTLD”) “.me” is disregarded, as ccTLDs typically do not form part of the comparison on the grounds that they are required for technical reasons (Rexel Developpements SAS v. Zhan Yequn, WIPO Case No. D2017-0275; Hay & Robertson International Licensing AG v. C. J. Lovik, WIPO Case No. D2002-0122).
The Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the LINE mark of Complainant.
Complainant has established Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Pursuant to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, Respondent may establish its rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name, among other circumstances, by showing any of the following elements:
(i) before any notice to you [Respondent] of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the Domain Name or a name corresponding to the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) you [Respondent] (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the Domain Name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) you [Respondent] are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.
The Panel concludes that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
Respondent has not submitted any response and has not claimed any such rights or legitimate interests with respect to the Domain Name. As per Complainant, Respondent was not authorized to register the Domain Name.
Prior to the notice of the dispute, Respondent did not demonstrate any use of the Domain Name or a trademark corresponding to the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.
On the contrary, as Complainant has demonstrated, the Domain Name leads to an inactive website. Passive holding of a domain name does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services (Philip Morris USA v. Gabriel Hall, WIPO Case No. D2015-1779; L’Oréal v. Haya Manami, WIPO Case No. D2015-0924).
Furthermore, per Complainant, Respondent appeared to have used the Domain Name through the following URL “impersonating” Complainant, which, when opened by users who have Complainant’s LINE app installed on their smartphones, provided access to their data: “https://line2.lineapps.me/api/line/groups”. Use of a domain name for illegal activity (e.g. phishing, distributing malware, unauthorized account access/hacking, impersonation/passing off, or other types of fraud) can never confer rights or legitimate interests on a respondent (WIPO Overview 3.0 , section 2.13 ).
This also indicates that Respondent knew of Complainant and chose the Domain Name with such knowledge (Safepay Malta Limited v. ICS Inc, WIPO Case No. D2015-0403).
The Panel notes that Respondent has not submitted any response and therefore has not claimed or proved that its company name is actually “LINE Cooperation”, as appearing on the Domain Name registration details. Absent that, the mere registration of the Domain Name under a name “LINE Cooperation” does not, on this case file, suffice for the Panel to find that Respondent is commonly known by the Domain Name and has any legitimate interest to its use (WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.3).
The Panel finds that these circumstances do not confer upon Respondent any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
Complainant has established Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii).
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides that the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, are evidence of the registration and use of the Domain Name in bad faith:
(i) circumstances indicating that Respondent has registered or has acquired the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the Domain Name registration to Complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of its documented out of pocket costs directly related to the Domain Name; or
(ii) that Respondent has registered the Domain Name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) that Respondent has registered the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) that by using the Domain Name, Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to Respondent’s website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of Respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on Respondent’s website or location.
The Panel concludes that Respondent has registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith. As per Complaint, Complainant’s LINE trademark is well known at least in Asia. Because the LINE mark had been widely used and registered at the time of the Domain Name registration by Respondent, the Panel finds it more likely than not that Respondent had Complainant’s mark in mind when registering the Domain Name (see 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 and Christiandior.net, WIPO Case No. D2000-0226). This also in view of the fact that the Domain Name includes the word “app”, which describes the object of Complainant’s business.
Respondent should have known about Complainant’s rights, as such knowledge is readily obtainable through a simple browser search and also due to Complainant’s nature of business, provided also online and/or through mobile phone applications (see Caesars World, Inc. v. Forum LLC, WIPO Case No. D2005-0517; Compart AG v. Compart.com / Vertical Axis Inc., WIPO Case No. D2009-0462). The Domain Name is also practically identical to an existing domain name of Complainant, namely <line.me>, registered on April 29, 2008, with the sole addition of the word “app” which is short for “application”, namely a word relative to Complainant’s business.
This indicates that Respondent knew of Complainant and chose the Domain Name with knowledge of Complainant and its industry. It alsofurther supports registration in bad faith, reinforcing the likelihood of confusion, as Internet users are likely to consider the Domain Name as connected with Complainant (WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.1.4).
As regards bad faith use, Complainant demonstrated that the Domain Name currently leads to an inactive website. The non-use of a domain name would not prevent a finding of bad faith (see Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003; WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.3).
In addition, per Complainant, Respondent appears to have used the Domain Name through the URL “https://line2.lineapps.me/api/line/groups” which, per Complainant, when opened by users who had Complainant’s LINE app installed on their smartphones, allowed Respondent access to their data. Use of a domain name for purposes other than to host a website may constitute bad faith. Such purposes include sending email, phishing, identity theft, or malware distribution (WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.4).
Under these circumstances and on this record, the Panel finds that Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith.
Complainant has established Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii).
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <lineapps.me> be transferred to Complainant.
Date: May 4, 2020