WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Volkswagen AG v. Aram Baghdasaryan
Case No. D2015-0057
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Volkswagen AG of Wolfsburg, Germany, represented by Drzewiecki, Tomaszek & Wspólnicy Spólka Komandytowa, Poland.
The Respondent is Aram Baghdasaryan of Yerevan, Armenia, self-represented.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <volkswagen.ninja> ("the Domain Name") is registered with Name.com LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 14, 2015. On January 14, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On January 15, 2015, the Registrar 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 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(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on January 22, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was February 11, 2015. On January 26, 2015, the Center received an informal email communication from the Respondent.
The Center appointed Ian Lowe as the sole panelist in this matter on February 23, 2015. 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 one of the world's leading automobile manufacturers and the largest carmaker in Europe. It was founded in May 1937. The Volkswagen Group comprises 12 brands including Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and Porsche. In 2013 the Group delivered 9.731 million vehicles to customers.
The Complainant is the proprietor of numerous trademark registrations comprising the VOLKSWAGEN mark. These include International Registration number 702679 registered on July 2, 1998 designating Armenia amongst other countries; Community Trade Mark number 009383506 registered on February 25, 2011, and International Registration number 554495 registered on November 17, 1989.
The Respondent registered the Domain Name on December 5, 2014. At the time of the filing of the Complaint the Domain Name did not resolve to any website.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to its VOLKSWAGEN trademarks, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name and that the Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith within the meaning of the Policy.
The Respondent did not file a formal Response. In its informal e-mail communication to the Center on January 26, 2015, the Respondent stated that the Registrar had sold the Domain Name without any warning that the Respondent may be violating some law or someone's rights and that the Registrar had been advertising first level ".ninja" domains as free to use in anyway without any restrictions.
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 and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has undoubted, uncontested rights in the trademark VOLKSWAGEN both by virtue of its numerous trademark registrations around the world and as acquired through widespread use for over 75 years. The Domain Name comprises the VOLKSWAGEN mark together only with the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) suffix ".ninja". As is widely accepted, the gTLD suffix may be ignored for present purposes. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is identical to a mark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has made out a strong prima facie case that the Respondent can have no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. In its informal Response, the Respondent made no attempt to justify its registering a domain name comprising the Complainant's famous mark, save only to point out that the Registrar permitted him to do so and did not warn him that registering the Domain Name may violate a third party's rights. The Respondent has done nothing to dispel the strong prima facie case raised by the Complainant. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel is in no doubt that the Respondent had the Complainant and its rights in the VOLKSWAGEN mark in mind when he registered the Domain Name. Furthermore, the Panel cannot conceive of any legitimate reason for the Respondent registering the Domain Name or of any legitimate purpose to which the Respondent could put the Domain Name. The Respondent did not indicate in its informal Response any good-faith reason for its registration or use of the Domain Name.
Although the Domain Name has not been actively used by the Respondent, passive holding is no bar to a finding of bad faith on the Respondent’s part. In accordance with the consensus view of UDRP panels, the factors indicated and the absence of any substantive Response on the part of the Respondent all support a finding of bad faith use (see Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003; Jupiters Limited v. Aaron Hall, WIPO Case No. D2000-0574; Ladbroke Group Plc v. Sonoma International LDC, WIPO Case No. D2002-0131).
In the circumstances, the Panel finds that the Domain Name was registered and 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 <volkswagen.ninja> be cancelled.
Date: March 1, 2015