The Complainants are Lufin Partners AG & Co KG, Liechtenstein and Lufin Partners AG, Switzerland, represented by Rentsch Partner AG, Switzerland.
The Respondents are Techman Resources, Finland and IQ Services, United Kingdom.
The disputed domain name <lufinpartners-ag.com> is registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com.
The disputed domain name <lufinpartnersag.com> is registered with NameSilo, LLC (collectively referred to as the “Registrars”).
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 17, 2020. On September 18, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrars a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On September 18, 2020 and September 19, 2020, the Registrars transmitted by email to the Center their verification responses disclosing registrants and contact information for the disputed domain names, which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainants on September 22, 2020 providing the registrants and contact information disclosed by the Registrars, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on September 23, 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 the Respondents of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on September 25, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 15, 2020. The Respondents did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondents’ default on October 16, 2020.
The Center appointed Knud Wallberg as the sole panelist in this matter on October 21, 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.
The Complainants are based in Liechtenstein and Switzerland, respectively, and operate in the sector of services for banks and credit institutions.
The Complainant Lufin Partners AG owns a number of trademark registrations for the trademark LUFIN PARTNERS inter alia International Registration valid for the European Union and Liechtenstein registered under number 1207754 on March 6, 2014 for services in classes 35, 36, and 41.
The disputed domain name <lufinpartnersag.com> was registered on August 2, 2020 and used to direct to a webpage containing contact details of a company called Lufin Partners in Lucerne, Switzerland. The website was taken down by the Police on September 17, 2020.
The disputed domain name <lufinpartners-ag.com> was registered on August 26, 2020 and used to direct to an identical webpage as the one resolving from the disputed domain name <lufinpartnersag.com>, containing contact details of a company called Lufin Partners in Lucerne, Switzerland. The website was taken down by the Police on September 17, 2020.
The Complainants contend that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to the Complainants’ trademark LUFIN PARTNERS since they contain the mark in its entirety with the addition of the letters “ag” which is an acronym for the legal status of the Complainants both being an “Aktiengesellschaft”.
Furthermore, the Complainants argue that neither of the Respondents have any bona fide interest to use the disputed domain names, since they were both directed to a phishing website, apparently operated in Nigeria, before they were taken down by the Police.
Finally, the Complainants contend that the Respondents registered and are or were using the disputed domain names in bad faith. The websites pretended to be the official websites of the Complainant Lufin Partners AG & Co KG. The websites contained several details about the Complainants, however all of them were false. In addition, the disputed domain name <lufinpartnersag.com> has been used as an email address for a phishing scam.
The Complainants request that although the Complaint is filed against two different Respondents, it shall be consolidated, since the two websites were under common control and a consolidation will be fair and equitable to all parties. As far as the common control is concerned, the Complainants refer to the fact that the websites on the disputed domain names were identical. In addition, both Respondents have registered the disputed domain names using false contact information, just as both Respondents have previously been identified as “scammers”.
The Respondents did not reply to the Complainants’ contentions.
Before addressing the three elements of the Policy, the Panel must first address a procedural issue, namely whether to accept in the present procedure that the Complaint against the two distinct Respondents, may be consolidated.
As it is stated in the first paragraph of section 4.11.2 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) that “Where a complaint is filed against multiple respondents, panels look at whether (i) the domain names or corresponding websites are subject to common control, and (ii) the consolidation would be fair and equitable to all parties. Procedural efficiency would also underpin panel consideration of such a consolidation scenario”. Paragraph two of the section then lists several factors that UDRP panels have considered in determining whether a consolidation is appropriate.
In this case, the disputed domain names are almost identical, the design of the two websites was also almost identical, and both websites contained the same false information on the Complainants as well as the same false contact information. In addition, the Complainants have demonstrated that both Respondents have previously been engaged in similar fraudulent activities.
Based on the above, the Panel finds that the Complainants have established a prima facie case that the Complaint can be consolidated. Neither of the two Respondents have rebutted this consolidation.
Consequently, the Panel finds that it is appropriate to consider the Complaint filed against both Respondents in the present proceeding.
According to paragraph 15(a) of the Rules the Panel shall decide the Complaint in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that a complainant must prove each of the following:
(i) that the domain name registered by the respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
(ii) that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy states that the burden of proving that all these elements are present lies with the Complainant. At the same time, in accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, if a party, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, does not comply with any provision of, or requirement under, the Rules, or any request from the Panel, the Panel shall draw such inferences therefrom as it considers appropriate.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar (in the sense of the Policy) to the Complainant, Lufin Partners AG’s, registered trademark LUFIN PARTNERS, since the disputed domain names contain the mark LUFIN PARTNERS in its entirety together with the descriptive terms “ag” and “-ag” respectively. See section 1.8 of WIPO Overview 3.0.
The generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com” is a standard registration requirement and as such is generally disregarded under the first element confusing similarity test. See section 1.11.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0.
The Panel finds that the conditions in paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy are therefore fulfilled in relation to the disputed domain names.
It is obvious from the Complaint, that the Complainants have not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondents to use the trademark LUFIN PARTNERS.
Further, given the circumstances of this case, the Panel finds that the Complainants have established a prima facie case that the Respondents have no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names. The Respondents have not rebutted this, and the way the Respondents have been using the disputed domain names (see below in the section 6.C) effectively excludes any possible finding of rights or legitimate interests. See section 2.13.2 of the WIPO Overview 3.0.
Consequently, the Panel finds that the conditions in paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy are also fulfilled.
Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy requires the complainant to prove both registration and use of the domain name in bad faith. Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides examples of circumstances, which shall be evidence of registration and use in bad faith:
(i) circumstances indicating that the holder has registered or has acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the holder’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) the holder 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 the holder has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) the holder has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, the holder has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the holder’s website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the holder’s website or location or of a product or service on the holder’s website or location.
Accordingly, for the Complainants to succeed, the Panel must be satisfied that the disputed domain names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
Given the circumstances of the case, in particular the way the disputed domain names have been used, it is obvious to the Panel in the current circumstances that the Respondents registered the disputed domain names in bad faith.
It is equally obvious to the Panel that the Respondents have been using the disputed domain names as part of a sophisticated attempt to deceive third parties by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainants and with the Complainants’ mark as to the source of the Respondents’ activities and websites. This constitutes bad faith use under the Policy, see section 3.4 of the WIPO Overview 3.0. The fact that the websites under the two disputed domain names have been taken down by the Police obviously supports this finding.
The Panel therefore finds that the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy are also fulfilled in this case.
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 names, <lufinpartners-ag.com> and <lufinpartnersag.com>, be transferred to the Complainant Lufin Partners AG & Co KG.
Date: November 9, 2020
Stay updated! Get new cases and decisions by daily email.