Complainant is Allianz SE, Germany, represented internally.
Respondent is Air Fast, Nigeria.
The disputed domain name <allianzgt.com> is registered with 1API GmbH (the “Registrar”).
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 27, 2020. On August 27, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 1, 2020, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name, which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to Complainant on September 1, 2020, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainant filed an amended Complaint on September 3, 2020.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended 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 September 11, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 1, 2020. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on October 2, 2020.
The Center appointed Lorelei Ritchie as the sole panelist in this matter on October 12, 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.
Undisputed facts include the following. Complainant, together with its predecessors and affiliated companies (collectively “Complainant”), is a global insurance and financial services group, with operations since 1890. Complainant has approximately 147,000 employees, and serves over 100 million customers in over 70 countries. Complainant has several trademark registrations for its ALLIANZ mark. These include, among others, International Registration No. 447004 (registered December 9, 1979); International Registration No. 713841 (registered March 5, 1999); and International Registration No. 714618 (registered April 5, 1999).
Complainant owns the registration for a number of domain names that incorporate variations on its ALLIANZ mark. These include <allianz.com> and <allianzgi.com>. Complainant uses URLs associated with these domain names to inform customers about its ALLIANZ mark and its insurance and financial products and services.
The disputed domain name <allianzgt.com> was registered on May 20, 2020. Respondent has no affiliation with Complainant. Respondent has used the URL associated with the disputed domain name to resolve to a website that appears to mimic an official website of Complainant. The websites highlights “Allianz Global Trade” and asks users to click on a link, to provide further information. Complainant has not authorized any activities by Respondent, nor any use of its trademarks thereby.
Complainant contends that the (i) disputed domain name <allianzgt.com> is identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademarks; (ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name; and (iii) Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
In particular, Complainant contends that it has a “distinctive and well-known” mark and a strong reputation in the field of insurance and financial services globally. Complainant refers to its large global presence, and notes that Interbrand ranked Complainant’s ALLIANZ mark number 43 in its global rankings of “brand strength” for 2019.
Complainant contends that it has trademark registrations for its ALLIANZ mark, as well as domain name registrations, with variations on its mark. Complainant contends that Respondent has merely added the generic or descriptive letters “gt,” which prospective consumers are likely to associate with Complainant’s “global” services.
Complainant further contends that Respondent has used the disputed domain name to lure in customers looking for Complainant, with a website that appears to mimic an official website of Complainant. Complainant further contends that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in the domain name registration or use of the disputed domain name. Rather, Complainant contends that Respondent has acted in bad faith in registering and using the disputed domain name, when Respondent clearly knew of Complainant’s rights.
Respondent did not file a reply to Complainant’s contentions in this proceeding.1
This Panel must first determine whether the disputed domain name <allianzgt.com> is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy. The Panel finds that it is. The disputed domain name directly incorporates Complainant’s registered trademark ALLIANZ, and merely adds the suffix “gt” which is likely to be perceived by consumers as referring to Complainant’s business in global transactions and global trade.
Numerous UDRP panels have agreed that supplementing or modifying a trademark with generic or descriptive words does not make a domain name any less “identical or confusingly similar” for purposes of satisfying this first prong of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy. See, for example, Inter-IKEA v. Polanski,WIPO Case No. D2000-1614 (transferring <ikeausa.com>); General Electric Company v. Recruiters,WIPO Case No. D2007-0584 (transferring <ge-recruiting.com>); Microsoft Corporation v. StepWeb, WIPO Case No. D2000-1500 (transferring <microsofthome.com>); CBS Broadcasting, Inc. v. Y2K Concepts Corp.,WIPO Case No. D2000-1065 (transferring <cbsone.com>). See, also, section 1.8 of WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition.
The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which Complainant has rights in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
The Policy provides some guidance to respondents on how to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the domain name at issue in a UDRP dispute. For example, paragraph 4(c) of the Policy gives examples that might show rights or legitimate interests in a domain name. These examples include: (i) use of the domain name “in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services”; (ii) demonstration that Respondent has been “commonly known by the domain name”; or (iii) “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”.
Respondent did not submit a reply to the Complaint, however. Rather, as mentioned in Section 4 of this Panel’s decision, Respondent has used the disputed domain name to divert Internet users to a website that appears to mimic Complaint’s website but which is unaffiliated with Complainant or Complainant’s products and services. Accordingly, the Panel finds that Complainant has made a prima facie showing of Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name, which Respondent has not rebutted.
There are several ways that a complainant can demonstrate that a domain name was registered and used in bad faith. For example, paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy states that bad faith can be shown where “by using the domain name [respondent has] intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [respondent’s] web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of [respondent’s] website or location or of a product or service on [the] web site or location”. As noted in Section 4 of this Panel’s decision, Respondent has set up a URL associated with the disputed domain name to resolve to a website that appears to mimic an official website of Complainant, and which attempts to confuse consumers by highlighting “Allianz Global Trade” and asking users to click on a link to provide further information.
Respondent is thus trading on the goodwill of Complainant’s trademarks to attract Internet users, presumably for Respondent’s own commercial gain. Given the nature of the site content and the disputed domain name which incorporates Complainant’s well-known ALLIANZ mark, with the addition of the suffix “gt,” the Panel finds sufficient evidence that Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name with knowledge of Complainant’s prior rights, and in particular with regard to Complainant’s insurance and financial products and services offered under the ALLIANZ mark.
Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
For all 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 <allianzgt.com> be transferred.
Dated: October 23, 2020
1 In response to its Notification of the Complainant, the Center received an electronic communication from a sender stating that the Notification had been delivered to their address in error. There was no formal reply filed by Respondent.
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