WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
SGB Finance v. Harry K. Gant
Case No. D2016-0050
1. The Parties
The Complainant is SGB Finance of Marcq en Baroeul, France, represented by Valérie Perrichon - Avocats, France.
The Respondent is Harry K. Gant of Chicago, Illinois1 , United States of America (“United States”).
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <sgb-fin.com> is registered with Eranet International Limited (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 11, 2016. On January 12, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 13, 2016, 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.
The Center verified that 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 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on January 18, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was February 7, 2016. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 8, 2016.
The Center appointed Charles Gielen as the sole panelist in this matter on February 11, 2016. 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 owns the following registrations for a device mark consisting in part of the elements SGB FINANCE: International Registration No. 909444, registered on November 30, 2006, for services in classes 35 and 36, as well as Community trade mark registration No. 5538327, registered on November 29, 2006, for services in the same classes.
The disputed domain name <sgb-fin.com> was created on September 15, 2015.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant argues that it has operated a business under the trade name “SGB Finance” since 2006, mainly aiming at providing financial, namely insurance services for vehicles, in particular for boats. The Complainant uses the device mark mainly consisting of the elements SGB FINANCE for such services. The Complainant also uses the domain name <sgb-finance.com> in connection with its website on which the aforementioned services are being offered.
The Respondent registered the disputed domain name on September 15, 2015, and uses it for a website on which the Complainant’s trade name SGB Finance is displayed, together with an almost identical copy of the website of the Complainant. The difference with the website of the Complainant is that the Respondent’s website shows other contact details than those of the Complainant and that it appears to have been set up to send fictitious job offers to Australian candidates asking them to provide personal details such as bank account or passport details.
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark.
Furthermore, the Complainant states that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in “SGB” that forms the dominant element in the disputed domain name. “SGB” is not a dictionary word. It is an arbitrary and distinctive sign belonging to the company SGB Finance since 2006. The Complainant contends that the Respondent is not a licensee of the Complainant and is not authorized to use the Complainant’s trademark SGB FINANCE and/or to market products and services bearing said trademark and/or to represent the Complainant and/or to act on its behalf.
Finally, the Complainant states that the Respondent registered and uses the disputed domain name in bad faith. The website for which the disputed domain name is registered and used is a fraudulent website, since it copies not only the trade name of the Complainant, but also because the whole outward appearance of the Respondent’s website is almost identical to the website of the Complainant. The purpose of the Respondent’s website is to offer fictitious jobs, asking for personal data from candidates. The Complainant argues that this is an operation known as an “employment scam”.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
The Panel is of the opinion that the Complainant’s contentions are justified and that the disputed domain name should be transferred to the Complainant. The Panel gives the following reasons for its decision.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant proves that it has rights in the trademark SGB FINANCE based on its trademark registrations. These registrations are for a device mark consisting of a logo being a colored square showing the element “SBG” and under it the word “finance”. The Panel agrees with the Complainant that the most dominant element of the mark consists of the elements “SGB FINANCE”. The element “SGB” is distinctive and it certainly is not a dictionary word. The element FINANCE is purely descriptive for the relevant services. The disputed domain name contains the “SGB” part of the trademark as the most dominant part followed by the element “fin”. The Panel is of the opinion that for these reasons the elements “sgb-fin” in the disputed domain name are confusingly similar to the trademark of the Complainant. The added term “.com” does not change the finding that the disputed domain name is similar, since the term “com” is generally understood as standing for the most popular generic Top-Level Domain “.com”. In making the comparison between the trademark and the disputed domain name the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) suffix “.com” is usually disregarded. The Panel is of the opinion that applying these principles to this case, the disputed domain name should be considered confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark.
The requirement under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy is met.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel is of the opinion that the Complainant has made out a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The first reason is that the distinctive element “SGB” is not one that one would ordinarily choose to include in a domain name without having some form of rights or legitimate interests to such a term. The Panel has not been given evidence of any such rights or legitimate interests. The element “SGB” is not a descriptive term serving to indicate specific characteristics of any goods or services. Furthermore the Panel notes that the Respondent has not been granted any rights to use the Complainant’s mark SGB FINANCE as part of the disputed domain name. In the absence of any Response to the Complaint, the Respondent has failed to produce any evidence that serves to rebut the Complainant’s prima facie case outlined above.
In view of the aforementioned, the Panel is of the opinion that the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy is met.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel is of the opinion that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The bad faith of the Respondent obviously follows from the operation it set up under the disputed domain name, namely by using the Complainant’s mark without consent to create a copy of the Complainant’s website and by offering fictitious jobs to potential candidates. Not many words are needed to characterize such an employment scam operation as a bad faith activity under the Policy. In doing so the Respondent creates the impression of being connected to the Complainant, which is not the case. Under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy registration and use of the disputed domain name in order to intentionally attract Internet users to the Respondent’s website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the trademark of the Complainant is a clear indication of bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name.
The Panel therefore considers the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(iii) to be met.
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 <sgb-fin.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: February 15, 2016
1 The Panel notes that the WhoIs information for the the disputed domain name lists the Respondent as being located in Chicago, with the registrant state as “YL”. The Panel notes that the postal code as listed in the WhoIs corresponds to a postal code for Chicago, Illinois, and as such finds that the above-referenced “YL” is likely to be a typographical error for the Illinois abbreviation “IL”.