WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC v. Shaun Ray
Case No. D2013-1545
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC of New York, New York, United States of America, (the “USA”), represented by Proskauer Rose, LLP, USA.
The Respondent is Shaun Ray of Kolkata, West Bengal, India.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <standardandpoorssucks.com> is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 3, 2013. On September 4, 2013, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 4, 2013, 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. On September 6, 2013, the Center sent an email communication to the Complainant informing it about some formal deficiencies contained in the Complaint, and inviting it to file an amendment to the Complaint to cure the deficiencies. The Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on September 9, 2013.
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 September 18, 2013. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 8, 2013. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 9, 2013.
The Center appointed Clive Duncan Thorne, Michael A. Albert and Maninder Singh as panelists in this matter on November 6, 2013. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. Each member of 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 factual background is set out in the Complaint. In the absence of a Response, there is no evidence to the contrary. The Panel therefore finds the evidence adduced by the Complainant to be true.
1. The Complainant has numerous trade mark registrations incorporating the name STANDARD & POOR or STANDARD & POOR'S. These marks are registered throughout the world. The Complainant submits that the mark STANDARD & POOR'S is a famous mark throughout the world.
2. STANDARD & POOR'S has been a strong well-known and famous trade mark for decades.
3. The Respondent is not maintaining an active website under the disputed domain name.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant submits:
1. The Complainant has trade mark rights in the mark STANDARD & POOR'S and other marks incorporating the name STANDARD & POOR'S.
2. There is no evidence that the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
3. The disputed domain name is registered and is being used in bad faith. In particular, the Complainant’s mark is extremely well-known and famous so that the Respondent is unable to make any good faith use of the disputed domain name.
4. The Respondent's provision of false and misleading contact information, i. e listing only a city and a country with no physical address or fax number.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Considerable evidence is adduced by the Complainant as to its trade mark rights in the mark STANDARD & POOR'S. Its US Federal trade mark registrations are listed in a table set of the Complaint. In particular, it is the owner of the mark STANDARD & POOR'S No. 3284295 registered on August 28, 2007 and first used on December 1, 1962 in relation to financial and investment advisory services.
In addition, the Complainant owns registrations for the mark STANDARD & POOR'S internationally including in Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bermuda (Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland), Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, The European Union, Russian Federation, France, Germany, Hong Kong (China), Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan (Province of China), Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. A printout of a list of these registrations is attached at Annex 2 to the Complaint.
The Panel therefore accepts the Complainant's submission that STANDARD & POOR'S is an extremely well-known trade mark and indeed a famous one around the world. Evidence is given by the Complainant that it has offices in 24 countries throughout the world including the US and India. It points out that "no-one who is involved in or takes an interest in the financial markets is unaware of Standard & Poor's”. The Complainant is the world's largest provider of financial market indices as well as one of the world's leading providers of independent investment information.
The Panel is required to decide whether or not the disputed domain name <standardandpoorsucks.com> is confusingly similar to the Complainant's mark STANDARD & POOR'S. In the Panel's view, it is. The disputed domain name consists of the mark STANDARD & POOR'S in its entirety and there is no doubt that this is the dominant part of the disputed domain name regardless of the fact that the trademark contains an ampersand and the disputed domain name refers to the word “and”. In addition, the disputed domain name has the suffix "sucks" added to “Standardandpoors”.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has trade mark rights in the mark STANDARD & POOR'S and that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's trade mark STANDARD & POOR’S.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name.
The Complainant submits that the Respondent has not been authorized by the Complainant to use the mark STANDARD & POOR'S in the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not and has not been commonly known by the disputed domain name. Given that there is no evidence entitling the Respondent to use the disputed domain name and that it is confusingly similar to the Complainant's trade mark STANDARD & POOR'S, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
One might argue (though the Respondent here has not done so) that the disputed domain name reflects a "gripe" or complaint forum about Complainant. That, however, does not appear to be the case on the facts before the Panel inasmuch as no substantive content of any kind (in particular, no good-faith or noncommercial content relating to the Complainant or its business or products) appears at the website in question. Absent any argument at all from the Respondent, the Panel is reluctant to reach beyond the four corners of the Complaint and assume or infer facts not before the Panel from which a case for rights or legitimate interests could potentially be made. Accordingly, the Panel finds no such rights or legitimate interests here.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Complainant makes the following submissions:
(i) The Respondent is not maintaining an active website under the disputed domain name but rather is sitting on it in the hope of selling it either to the Complainant or to a third party that would similarly be trying to benefit from the Complainant's famous trade mark.
The difficulty with this submission is that there is no evidence beyond speculation the Respondent is sitting on the domain name in the hope of selling it either to the Complainant or to a third party.
(ii) The Complainant is extremely well-known and famous such that the Respondent can make no good faith use of the disputed domain name and "it is not possible to conceive of any plausible, actual or contemplative active use of the domain name by the Respondent that would not be illegitimate, such as by being a passing-off, an infringement of consumer protection legislation, or an infringement of the Complainant's rights under trade mark law".
Unsurprisingly, the Complainant relies upon the long standing Panel decision in Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003 and subsequent decisions. In the Panel's view this submission is now well grounded in authority. The Panel therefore finds that given the fact that the Complainant's mark is extremely well known and famous the Respondent has made no good faith use of the domain name. As noted in Section 6 B above, the Respondent could perhaps have advanced an argument that the disputed domain name was registered for the good faith purpose of hosting a "gripe" or criticism site; but no such argument has been made and this Panel is reluctant to draw inferences or make assumptions about the facts without evidence or argument. It follows that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
(iii) Additionally the Complainant submits that the Respondent's provision of false and misleading contact information, i. e listing only a city and country with no physical address, fax or email is further evidence of bad faith. It relies upon the earlier decision in Mrs. Eva Padberg v. Eurobox Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2007-1886 which established that the provision of false contact information was a "significant further factor" that points to bad faith registration.
The Panel agrees that the provision of false or at least woefully incomplete contact information can, and here does, provide further evidence of 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 <standardandpoorssucks.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Clive Duncan Thorne
Michael A. Albert
Date: November 20, 2013