WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Saudi Arabian Oil Company v. PrivacyProtect.org/saudiaramco/hussein haziem
Case No. D2012-2509
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Saudi Arabian Oil Company of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, represented by Abelman Frayne & Schwab, United States of America.
The Respondent is PrivacyProtect.org of Nobby Beach, Queensland, Australia; saudiaramco/Hussein haziem of Diyala, Iraq.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <saudiaramcojobsiraqi.com> is registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the ”Center”) on December 19, 2012. On December 20, 2012, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On December 22, 2012, 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 the Complainant on December 27, 2012 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on December 31, 2012.
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(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on January 4, 2013. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was January 24, 2013. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 25, 2013.
The Center appointed Kaya Köklü as the sole panelist in this matter on February 5, 2013. 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.
In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 11(a), and since the parties have not agreed otherwise, the Panel finds that the language of the administrative proceedings is the language of the Registration Agreement (i.e. English).
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a long-established state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia with operations mainly in exploration, production, refining, petrochemicals, marketing and international shipping. It is one of the leading companies of crude oil and natural gas production worldwide.
Since many years, the Complainant is the registered owner of a large number of SAUDI ARAMCO trademarks (e.g. Chinese trademark registration No. 1404335, registered on June 7, 2000), which are registered in many countries worldwide and cover protection for numerous products and services.
The Complainant further owns and operates a web portal at “www.saudiaramco.com”.
The Respondent seems to be an individual from Iraq.
The disputed domain name was registered on May 18, 2012.
At the time of the Complaint, the disputed domain name did not appear to resolve to any active website.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain name.
First, the Complainant argues that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s well-known SAUDI ARAMCO trademark.
Second, the Complainant is of the opinion that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. The Complainant alleges that it has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use any of its trademarks and has not permitted the Respondent to register or use any domain name incorporating its SAUDI ARAMCO trademark. The Complainant additionally asserts that the Respondent has never used the disputed domain name, nor made any demonstrable preparations to use the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. Finally, the Complainant sees no evidence or indication that the Respondent trades under or is commonly known by any name corresponding to the disputed domain name.
Third, the Complainant is convinced that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in opportunistic bad faith. It is argued that the trademark SAUDI ARAMCO was already well-known many years prior to the date of registration of the disputed domain name by the Respondent.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
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 and on the basis of the Complaint where no Response has been submitted.
In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that each of the three following elements is satisfied:
(i) The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) The disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy states that the Complainant bears the burden of proving that all these requirements are fulfilled, even if the Respondent has not replied to the Complaint. Stanworth Development Limited v. E Net Marketing Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2007-1228.
However, concerning the uncontested information provided by the Complainant, the Panel may as appropriate accept the provided reasonable factual allegations in the Complaint as true. Belupod.d. v. WACHEM d.o.o., WIPO Case No. D2004-0110.
It is further noted that the Panel has taken note of the WIPO Overview of Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition (“WIPO Overview 2.0”) and, where appropriate, will decide consistent with the WIPO Overview 2.0.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the SAUDI ARAMCO trademarks of the Complainant.
First, the Panel confirms that the Complainant has satisfied the threshold requirement of having trademark rights regarding the brand SAUDI ARAMCO. As evidenced in the Complaint, the Complainant owns a large number of SAUDI ARAMCO trademarks in worldwide, covering protection for various products and services mainly related to oil and gas production.
Although not identical, the disputed domain name fully incorporates the trademark SAUDI ARAMCO. The disputed domain name differs from the trademark SAUDI ARAMCO only by the addition of the generic term “jobs” and the country name “Iraq”. In the Panel’s view, the addition of a generic term like “jobs” and/or the name of a country like “Iraq” does not negate the confusing similarity between the Complainant’s trademark and the disputed domain name. The Panel finds that these incorporations are rather descriptive and do not create a new distinctiveness separate from the Complainant’s trademark SAUDI ARAMCO. Quite the opposite, the Panel believes that the full inclusion of the Complainant’s trademark in combination with the content-related terms mentioned above may even enhance the false impression that the Internet site linked to the disputed domain name is somehow officially linked to the Complainant.
Bearing in mind the notoriety of the mark SAUDI ARAMCO, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name is likely to confuse Internet users in their believing that the disputed domain name is affiliated or endorsed by the Complainant or that the use of the disputed domain name is at least authorized by the Complainant.
Hence, the Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has met the requirements under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel further believes that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
While the burden of proof remains with the Complainant, the Panel recognizes that this would result in the impossible task of proving a negative, in particular as the evidence needed to show the Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests is primarily within the knowledge and sphere of the Respondent. Therefore, the Panel agrees in line with prior UDRP panels that the Complainant is required to make out a prima facie case before the burden shifts to the Respondent to show that it has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name in order to meet the requirements in paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied this requirement by providing uncontested prima facie evidence that the Respondent has no trademark, license or any similar right to use the Complainant’s trademark in the disputed domain name.
In the absence of a Response, the Respondent has failed to provide any evidence of a right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name according to the Policy, paragraphs 4(a)(ii) and 4(c).
The Panel further confirms that the Respondent does not provide (nor does the case file contain) any evidence of a bona fide use of the disputed domain name or any legitimate noncommercial or fair use pursuant to paragraph 4(c)(iii) of the Policy. There is also no evidence or indication to assess that the Respondent trades under or is commonly known by any name corresponding to the disputed domain name. On the contrary, the Panel believes that the Respondent properly intended to gain commercial benefit from misled consumers only.
In light of the above, the Panel concludes that the Complainant has also satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel is further convinced that the Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Panel is well aware of the notoriety and reputation of the trademark SAUDI ARAMCO. The Panel believes that the Respondent must have known this trademark when registering the disputed domain name. This is in particular likely as the disputed domain name has been registered well after the Complainant's trademark SAUDI ARAMCO had become recognized worldwide, including in Iraq.
It rather appears that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name solely for the purpose of creating an association with the trademark SAUDI ARAMCO in order to mislead Internet users who may search for official job offers provided by the Complainant. The Panel is convinced that the Respondent was well aware that a legitimate use of the disputed domain name would not have been possible without trading-off on the Complainant’s trademark rights. In addition, the fact that the website connected to the disputed domain name did not appear to resolve to any active website at the time of Complaint does not change the Panel’s findings.
Furthermore, the Panel finds that the Respondent’s failure to respond to the Complaint additionally supports the above finding that it has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
For the foregoing reasons, the Panel cannot conceive of any good faith use of the disputed domain name by the Respondent.
The Panel therefore concludes that the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith and that the Complainant has also satisfied the third element of the Policy, namely, 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 <saudiaramcojobsiraqi.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: February 17, 2013