Deutsche Lufthansa AG v. Kenechukwu Okoli
Claim Number: FA1812001821759
Complainant is Deutsche Lufthansa AG (“Complainant”), represented by Hajo Rauschhofer of Rauschhofer Rechtsanwälte, Germany. Respondent is Kenechukwu Okoli (“Respondent”), Canada.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <lufthansamiles.com>, registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC.
The undersigned certifies that he has acted independently and impartially and to the best of his knowledge has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding.
Paul M. DeCicco, as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the Forum electronically on December 19, 2018; the Forum received payment on December 19, 2018.
On December 19, 2018, GoDaddy.com, LLC confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <lufthansamiles.com> domain name is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. GoDaddy.com, LLC has verified that Respondent is bound by the GoDaddy.com, LLC registration agreement and has thereby agreed to resolve domain disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”).
On December 20, 2018, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint, setting a deadline of January 9, 2019 by which Respondent could file a Response to the Complaint, via e-mail to all entities and persons listed on Respondent’s registration as technical, administrative, and billing contacts, and to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also on December 20, 2018, the Written Notice of the Complaint, notifying Respondent of the e-mail addresses served and the deadline for a Response, was transmitted to Respondent via post and fax, to all entities and persons listed on Respondent’s registration as technical, administrative and billing contacts.
Having received no response from Respondent, the Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
On January 11, 2019, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed Paul M. DeCicco as Panelist.
Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the "Panel") finds that the Forum has discharged its responsibility under Paragraph 2(a) of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Rules") "to employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice to Respondent" through submission of Electronic and Written Notices, as defined in Rule 1 and Rule 2. Therefore, the Panel may issue its decision based on the documents submitted and in accordance with the ICANN Policy, ICANN Rules, the Forum's Supplemental Rules and any rules and principles of law that the Panel deems applicable, without the benefit of any response from Respondent.
Complainant requests that the domain name be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.
Complainant contends as follows:
Complainant, Deutsche Lufthansa AG, is known for passenger transportation and a variety of other goods and services.
Complainant registered the LUFTHANSA mark with multiple trademark organizations, including the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). Complainant also registered the MILES mark with the German Patent and Trademark Office (“GPTMO”) (e.g. Reg. No. DE30157170, registered Feb. 18, 2002) and the LUFTHANSA MILES AND MORE mark with the USPTO (e.g. Reg. No. 1,809,618, registered July 12, 1993).
Respondent’s <lufthansamiles.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s marks as it wholly incorporates the LUFTHANSA and MILES marks before appending the “.com” generic top-level-domain (“gTLD”).
Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the <lufthansamiles.com> domain name. Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name, nor was Respondent authorized to use Complainant’s marks in any manner. Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name does not amount to a bona fide offering of goods or services or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use. Rather, Respondent uses the <lufthansamiles.com> domain name domain name to divert Internet users to the disputed domain name where Respondent hosts pay-per-click links that resolve to third party websites.
Respondent registered and uses the <lufthansamiles.com> domain name in bad faith. Respondent attempts to sell the disputed domain name to the general public and to Complainant directly. Further, Respondent intentionally attracts, for commercial gain, Internet users otherwise seeking Complainant to Respondent’s own website. Finally, Respondent had constructive or actual knowledge of Complainant’s rights in the marks prior to registration of the disputed domain name.
Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant has rights in the LUFTHANSA mark through its registration of such mark with the USPTO.
Respondent is not affiliated with Complainant and had not been authorized to use Complainant’s trademark in any capacity.
Respondent registered the at‑issue domain name after Complainant acquired rights in the LUFTHANSA trademark.
Respondent uses the at-issue domain name to address a webpage which displays multiple pay-per-click links.
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs this Panel to "decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable."
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred:
(1) the domain name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(2) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
In view of Respondent's failure to submit a response, the Panel shall decide this administrative proceeding on the basis of Complainant's undisputed representations pursuant to paragraphs 5(f), 14(a) and 15(a) of the Rules and draw such inferences it considers appropriate pursuant to paragraph 14(b) of the Rules. The Panel is entitled to accept all reasonable allegations and inferences set forth in the Complaint as true unless the evidence is clearly contradictory. See Vertical Solutions Mgmt., Inc. v. webnet-marketing, inc., FA 95095 (Forum July 31, 2000) (holding that the respondent’s failure to respond allows all reasonable inferences of fact in the allegations of the complaint to be deemed true); see also Talk City, Inc. v. Robertson, D2000-0009 (WIPO Feb. 29, 2000) (“In the absence of a response, it is appropriate to accept as true all allegations of the Complaint.”).
The at-issue domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which Complainant has rights.
Complainant shows that it has a USPTO registered trademark for LUFTHANSA as well as other registrations for such mark worldwide, including registration with German Patent and Trademark Office (“GPTMO”). Thereby Complainant demonstrates its rights in the LUFTHANSA mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Liberty Global Logistics, LLC v. damilola emmanuel / tovary services limited, FA 1738536 (Forum Aug. 4, 2017) (stating, “Registration of a mark with the USPTO sufficiently establishes the required rights in the mark for purposes of the Policy.”); See teamtechnik Maschinen und Anlagen GmbH v. Edgar Bechtle / Ebechtle LLC, FA 1652306 (Forum Jan. 28, 2016) (finding rights in the TEAMTECHNIK mark pursuant to Complainant’s trademark registration with GPTMO).
Respondent’s domain name starts with Complainant’s LUFTHANSA trademark, adds the suggestive term “miles” (the Panel also notes that the term “miles” is a term included in other trademarks held by Complainant), and concludes with the top level domain name “.com”. The slight differences between Respondent’s <lufthansamiles.com> domain name and Complainant’s trademark are insufficient to distinguish one from the other for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). Therefore, the Panel concludes that Respondent’s <lufthansamiles.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s LUFTHANSA trademark. See MTD Products Inc v. Mike Kernea / Skyline, FA 1775278 (Forum Apr. 19, 2018) (“The mere addition of a gTLD is inconsequential and does not avoid a finding of identity.”); see also Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. v. Yangxiaoyi / Qingyuan Tianheng Trading Company Ltd., FA 1625637 (Forum June 23, 2015) (finding the combination of a complainant’s marks does not allow a respondent to avoid a finding of confusing similarity under Policy ¶4(a)(i)); see also, Bloomberg Finance L.P. v. Sunny Bhadauria, FA 1786429 (Forum June 7, 2018) (finding the <bloombergquint.org> domain name to be confusingly similar to the complainant’s BLOOMBERG mark, as the name consists of the mark, the added term “quint” (which refers to the complainant’s Indian business partner “Quintillian Media”) and the gTLD “.org”).
Under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii), Complainant must first make out a prima facie case showing that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in respect of an at-issue domain name and then the burden, in effect, shifts to Respondent to come forward with evidence of its rights or legitimate interests. See Hanna-Barbera Prods., Inc. v. Entm’t Commentaries, FA 741828 (Forum Aug. 18, 2006). Since Respondent failed to respond, Complainant’s prima facie showing acts conclusively.
Respondent lacks both rights and legitimate interests in respect of the at-issue domain name. Respondent is not authorized to use Complainant’s trademark in any capacity and, as discussed below, there are no Policy ¶4(c) circumstances from which the Panel might find that Respondent has rights or interests in respect of the at‑issue domain name.
WHOIS information for Respondent’s domain name identifies its registrant as “Kenechukwu Okoli” and the record contains no evidence that otherwise tends to prove that Respondent is commonly known by the <lufthansamiles.com> domain name. The Panel therefore concludes that Respondent is not commonly known by the at-issue domain name for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Coppertown Drive-Thru Sys., LLC v. Snowden, FA 715089 (Forum July 17, 2006) (concluding that the respondent was not commonly known by the <coppertown.com> domain name where there was no evidence in the record, including the WHOIS information, suggesting that the respondent was commonly known by the disputed domain name).
Moreover, Respondent used the at-issue domain name to address a website offering pay-per-click links to both Complainant and Complainant’s competitors. Respondent’s use of the <lufthansamiles.com> domain name in this manner constitutes neither a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶4(c)(i), nor a non-commercial or fair use under Policy ¶4(c)(iii). See Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc. v. domain admin / private registrations aktien gesellschaft, FA1506001626253 (Forum July 29, 2015) (“Respondent is using the disputed domain name to resolve to a web page containing advertising links to products that compete with those of Complainant. The Panel finds that this does not constitute a bona fide offering or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use.”).
Given the forgoing, Complainant satisfies its initial burden and conclusively demonstrates Respondent’s lack of rights and lack of interests in respect of the at-issue domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).
Respondent’s <lufthansamiles.com> domain name was registered and used in bad faith. As discussed below without limitation, Policy ¶ 4(b) specific bad faith circumstances, as well as other circumstance, are present which compel the Panel to conclude that Respondent acted in bad faith regarding the at-issue domain name pursuant to paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
First, Respondent attempted to sell that at-issue domain name to both the general public and to Complainant for an amount in excess of its out-of-pocket costs. The domain name’s website listed the domain name for sale for $9,150. Respondent also contacted Complainant directly to offer the domain name for sale. Doing so suggests bad faith registration and use of the <lufthansamiles.com> domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(i). See CBS Broad. Inc. v. Worldwide Webs, Inc., D2000-0834 (WIPO Sept. 4, 2000) (“There is nothing inherently wrongful in the offer or sale of domain names, without more, such as to justify a finding of bad faith under the Policy. However, the fact that domain name registrants may legitimately and in good faith sell domain names does not imply a right in such registrants to sell domain names that are identical or confusingly similar to trademarks or service marks of others without their consent”); see also State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Yu Ke Rong, FA 1750476 (Forum Oct. 25, 2017) (finding bad faith where the respondent attempted to sell the domain name to the complainant for $800.00: “offers targeted specifically at a complainant may serve as evidence of bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(b)(i).”).
Next, as mentioned above regarding rights and legitimate interests, Respondent used the confusingly similar <lufthansamiles.com> domain name to address a website presenting website visitors with pay-per-click links to third party websites some of which compete with Complainant. Using the confusingly similar domain name in such manner indicates Respondent’s bad faith registration and use of the at-issue domain name pursuant to Policy ¶¶ 4(b)(iii) and/or (iv). Google Inc. v. James Lucas / FireStudio / Jameschee / FIRESTUDIO / SEONG YONG, FA1502001605757 (Forum Apr. 7, 2015) (“This Panel agrees that Respondent’s inclusion of advertisements to likely reap click-through fees is an example of bad faith pursuant Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv).”); see also American Council on Education and GED Testing Service LLC v. Anthony Williams, FA1760954 (Forum Jan. 8, 2018) (“Respondent’s hosting of links to Complainant’s competitors demonstrates bad faith registration and use of the <geddiploma.org> domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii)”).
Finally, Respondent registered <lufthansamiles.com> knowing that Complainant had trademark rights in the LUFTHANSA trademark. Respondent’s prior knowledge is evident given the notoriety of Complainant’s trademark as well as Respondent’s use of the domain name as mentioned above. It follows that Respondent intentionally registered the at-issue domain name to improperly exploit its trademark value, rather than for some benign reason. Respondent’s prior knowledge of Complainant's trademark further indicates that Respondent registered and used the <lufthansamiles.com> domain name in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii). See Univision Comm'cns Inc. v. Norte, FA 1000079 (Forum Aug. 16, 2007) (rejecting the respondent's contention that it did not register the disputed domain name in bad faith since the panel found that the respondent had knowledge of the complainant's rights in the UNIVISION mark when registering the disputed domain name); see also, Minicards Vennootschap Onder FIrma Amsterdam v. Moscow Studios, FA 1031703 (Forum Sept. 5, 2007) (holding that respondent registered a domain name in bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii) after concluding that respondent had "actual knowledge of Complainant's mark when registering the disputed domain name").
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <lufthansamiles.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Paul M. DeCicco, Panelist
Dated: January 13, 2019
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