WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co LLP v. Registration Private, Domains by Proxy LLC / Ian Piggin1
Case No. D2015-0135
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co LLP of London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ("U.K."), internally represented.
The Respondent is Registration Private, Domains by Proxy LLC of Scottsdale, Arizona, United States of America / Ian Piggin of Yola, Adamawa, Nigeria.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <uk-wragge-law.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 January 27, 2015. On January 28, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 30, 2015, 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 February 2, 2015 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 amended Complaint on February 2, 2015.
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(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on February 6, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was February 26, 2015. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on February 27, 2015.
The Center appointed Christos A. Theodoulou as the sole panelist in this matter on March 10, 2015. 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.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a U.K. international law firm with a presence in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
The disputed domain name <uk-wragge-law.com> was registered on December 8, 2014. According to the uncontested allegations of the Complainant, an email address connected to the disputed domain name has been used to impersonate one of the Complainant's employees in order to purchase airline tickets in the name of this employee as well as unrelated third parties, presumably in an attempt to defraud the Complainant or its travel agents.
The Complainant owns several trademarks, among them (i) European Community trademark number 4795233 for WRAGGE & CO in classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 37, 38, 41, and 42, registered with effect from December 9, 2005 and (ii) European Community trademark number 12672968 for WRAGGE LAWRENCE GRAHAM & CO in classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 41, and 45, registered with effect from March 7, 2014.
Further, the Complainant is owner of domain names including <wragge-law.com> and all its employees changed their email addresses to the format "email@example.com", according to the uncontested allegations of the Complainant, as of May 2014.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to trademarks or service marks in which the Complainant has rights, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name and that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Before engaging in the threefold discussion of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Panel will briefly address the procedural issue relating to the default of the Respondent. The implications of a default in this case are telling since the Complainant has the burden of proof, according to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy ("In the administrative proceeding, the complainant must prove that each of these three elements are present"). As such, the Panel can not merely grant the Complainant's request automatically due to the default, but it has to examine instead the evidence presented to determine whether or not the Complainant has proved its case, as required by the Policy. See FNAC v. Gauthier Raymond, WIPO Case No. D2004-0881; Sonofon A/S v. Vladimir Aleksic, WIPO Case No. D2007-0668; Gaudi Trade SpA v. Transure Enterprise Ltd, WIPO Case No. D2009-1028.
The Panel shall now proceed to the analysis of the evidence in this case, based on the three elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has presented evidence to demonstrate that it owns registered trademark rights in WRAGGE & CO and WRAGGE LAWRENCE GRAHAM & CO in the European Community.
The mere fact that the Respondent has added to the dominant portion of the Complainant's mark WRAGGE the geographical term "uk" and the suffix ".com" and the generic term "law" does not to this Panel affect the essence of the matter: the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark of the Complainant and, in the circumstances of this case, is by itself sufficient to establish the criterion of identity or confusing similarity for purposes of the Policy, as many previous UDRP panels have found. See e.g., Oki Data Americas, Inc. v. ASD, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2001-0903; Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. v. K. Harjani Electronics Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2002-1021; DFDS A/S v. NOLDC INC, WIPO Case No. D2006-1070; American Automobile Association, Inc. v. Bladimir Boyiko and Andrew Michailov, WIPO Case No. D2006-0252.
In view of the above, the Panel finds that the Complainant has discharged its burden of proof on this point and holds that the disputed domain name <uk-wragge-law.com> is confusingly similar to the Complainant's trademark WRAGGE & CO and WRAGGE LAWRENCE GRAHAM & CO.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides a non-exhaustive list of circumstances which, if found by a panel to be proved based on its evaluation of the evidence presented, shall demonstrate a registrant's rights or legitimate interests in a domain name. These examples are discussed in turn below, with regard to the specific facts of this case.
(i) Use of or demonstrable preparations to use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services prior to the dispute: the Respondent is not making a bona fide offering of goods or services.
(ii) An indication that the Respondent has been commonly known by the disputed domain name, even if it has acquired no trademark or service mark rights: in this case, there is no such indication from the present record.
(iii) Legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue: again, in this case there is no such indication from the record.
Further the Respondent does not seem to have any trademark registrations including the term "wragge". Additionally, it is to be noted that the Respondent did not present evidence of any license by the Complainant, with whom there seems to exist no relationship whatsoever.
As a conclusion on this point, the Panel finds that the Complainant has established an uncontested, prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, and the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides circumstances that may evidence bad faith registration and use of a disputed domain name.
The facts mentioned by the Complainant do not fall within the examples of bad faith set out in the paragraph 4(b) of the Policy. However, according to paragraph 4(b) of the Policy, the circumstances mentioned are "without limitation".
According to the uncontested allegations of the Complainant, someone impersonating a senior person in the Complainant's law firm and used an email address connected to the disputed domain name in order to defraud the Complainant or a third party. This use, according to the uncontested allegations of the Complainant, occurred on the same day as the disputed domain name was registered. The Panel finds that use of the disputed domain name to commit fraud is certainly bad faith under the Policy. Further, the default of the Respondent in the present circumstances seems to "reinforce the inference of bad faith registration and bad faith use". The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited v. Bill Lynn, WIPO Case No. D2001-0915. Also, the use of a private registration service to conceal the Respondent's identity reinforces the above inference.
As a consequence of the above, the Panel finds that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in 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 <uk-wragge-law.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Christos A. Theodoulou
Date: March 16, 2015
1 While "Ian Piggin" has been confirmed by the Registrar as the registrant of the disputed domain name, the Panel wishes to stress that this is not the same Ian Piggin who is a partner in the Complainant's limited liability partnership, and that this name is likely an alias.