WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
World Acceptance Corporation v. Sanya Mahachon
Case No. D2015-2136
1. The Parties
The Complainant is World Acceptance Corporation of Greenville, South Carolina, United States of America (“USA”), represented by Wyche, P.A., USA.
The Respondent is Sanya Mahachon of Mueang Nonthaburi, Thailand.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <worldfinanceloanapplication.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with Wild West Domains, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 24, 2015. The Center transmitted its request for registrar verification to the Registrar on November 25, 2015. The Registrar replied on November 25, 2015, confirming that the Domain Name is registered with it, that the Respondent is the registrant, that the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “UDRP”) applies, that the Domain Name will expire on May 16, 2016, and will remain locked during this proceeding subject to expiry, that the language of the registration agreement is English, and that the Domain Name has been registered to the Respondent since at least April 28, 2015. The Registrar also provided the full contact details held on its WhoIs database in respect of the Domain Name.
The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the 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 paragraphs 2 and 4 of the Rules, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on November 27, 2015. In accordance with paragraph 5 of the Rules, the due date for Response was December 17, 2015. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 18, 2015.
The Center appointed Jonathan Turner as the sole panelist in this matter on December 23, 2015. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with paragraph 7 of the Rules. Having reviewed the file the Panel finds that the Complaint complied with applicable formal requirements, was duly notified to the Respondent and has been submitted to a properly constituted Panel in accordance with the UDRP, the Rules and the Supplemental Rules.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant has carried on a business of providing personal loans and other credit services in the USA under the name “World Finance Corporation” since 1962. It has registered the mark WORLD FINANCE CORPORATION in the supplemental register of marks held by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) in respect of credit and loan services, claiming first use on December 1, 1965, and use in commerce since January 1, 1977.
The Respondent is using the Domain Name to locate an English language website which invites members of the public to provide personal financial information apparently with a view to passing this information to third parties that offer personal loans.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that it has rights in the mark WORLD FINANCE CORPORATION by virtue of its use and registration in the USPTO’s Supplemental Register of marks. The Complainant asserts that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to this mark.
The Complainant denies that the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. The Complainant states that it has not given any permission to the Respondent to use the Domain Name and that the Respondent is not commonly known by the Domain Name. It points out that the Respondent is not itself offering any goods or services and is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Name.
The Complainant alleges that the Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith. According to the Complainant, the Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name primarily to profit from and exploit the Complainant’s WORLD FINANCE CORPORATION mark by misdirecting Internet users to the Respondent’s website.
The Complainant seeks a decision that the Domain Name be transferred to it.
As stated above, the Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove: (i) that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which it has rights; (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. It is appropriate to consider each of these requirements in turn.
In accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, the Panel shall draw such inferences as it considers appropriate from the Respondent’s default in failing to file a response. This includes the acceptance of plausible evidence of the Complainant which has not been disputed.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The mark WORLD FINANCE CORPORATION consists of descriptive elements and has been registered only on the USPTO’s supplemental register, which does not provide any presumption of distinctiveness. However, there has been longstanding use of this mark by the Complainant, even if one takes the earliest use in commerce as beginning in 1977, as verified by the registration in the USPTO Supplemental Register, rather than the earlier date indicated in the Complaint. In all the circumstances and given that the Complainant’s evidence has not been disputed by the Respondent, the Panel finds that the Complainant has rights in the mark WORLD FINANCE CORPORATION.
In view of its descriptive character, the Complainant’s rights in this mark are narrow; small differences are likely to suffice to avert the risk of confusion. Nevertheless, the Panel considers that relevant members of the public who know of the Complainant and its services under the mark WORLD FINANCE CORPORATION are liable to be confused by the Domain Name and to suppose that it locates a website of the Complainant where applications may be made for personal loans provided by the Complainant. The Panel notes in this regard that personal loans provided by the Complainant may be taken out by poorer and less sophisticated consumers. Furthermore, the likelihood of confusion has not been disputed by the Respondent.
In these circumstances the Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the mark WORLD FINANCE CORPORATION in which the Complainant has rights. The first requirement of the UDRP is satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel considers that the Respondent’s website at the Domain Name does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Name. On the contrary, the Panel finds on the undisputed evidence that this is a use of the Domain Name in bad faith to mislead consumers seeking to apply to the Complainant for personal loans into believing that the Respondent’s website is connected with the Complainant and thereby into providing information which is passed to other companies for use in their marketing.
The Panel further finds on the undisputed evidence that the Respondent is not commonly known by the Domain Name.
In the circumstances, there is no other basis on which the Respondent could claim rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. The Panel accordingly finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. The second requirement of the UDRP is satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel finds on the undisputed evidence that the Respondent has used the Domain Name intentionally to attract Internet users to his website for commercial gain by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of this website.
In accordance with paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the UDRP this constitutes evidence that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. There is no evidence contradicting this presumption. In the circumstances the Panel concludes that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
All three requirements of the UDRP are satisfied and it is appropriate to order that the Domain Name be transferred to the Complainant.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <worldfinanceloanapplication.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: January 12, 2016