WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Snapchat, Inc. v. Macy Wrhel
Case No. D2016-0558
1. The Parties
Complainant is Snapchat, Inc. of Venice, California, United States of America ("United States" or "U.S."), represented by Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, United States.
Respondent is Macy Wrhel of Springville, Utah, United States.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <hackedsnapchatphotos.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 March 21, 2016. On March 22, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On the same date, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing Respondent's 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on March 24, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was April 13, 2016. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent's default on April 14, 2016.
The Center appointed Lorelei Ritchie as the sole panelist in this matter on April 25, 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
Complainant designs and distributes the popular Snapchat messaging application, available for iOS and Android operating systems. The application, launched in 2011, allows users to share photos, videos and messages via mobile devices. Complainant owns trademark registrations for the mark SNAPCHAT globally, including, in the United States where Respondent lists her address of record, U.S. Registration No. 4,375,712 (registered July 30, 2013).
Complainant also owns the registration for the domain name <snapchat.com> which it uses to provide information about its services. Complainant is frequently featured in media such as Forbes, Business Insider, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Huffington Post, among others. As "the fastest growing social network," Complainant has recently been valued at USD 16 billion. One report has identified it as the fourth most popular social media platform, with 77% of college students, its largest demographic, reporting using Snapchat at least once a day. The Panel finds that with this level of exposure, the mark SNAPCHAT is clearly well known.
The disputed domain name <hackedsnapchatphotos.com> was registered on October 17, 2014. Respondent uses the disputed domain name to post adult content photos. The web page on the site to which the disputed domain name redirects contains the message "Just $1 gets you inside the VIP area with over 100,000 Hacked Cell Phone Photos." Respondent has no affiliation with Complainant, nor any license to use its marks.
5. Parties' Contentions
Complainant contends that (i) the disputed domain name <hackedsnapchatphotos.com> is identical or confusingly similar to Complainant's trademarks; (ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name; and (iii) Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Specifically, Complainant contends that it is the owner of the mark SNAPCHAT which has a "high degree of public recognition and distinctiveness." Complainant contends that Respondent has incorporated this mark in the disputed domain name and merely added the descriptive terms "hacked" and "photos." Complainant contends that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name, and rather has registered and is using it in bad faith, offering a commercial website.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
This Panel must first determine whether the disputed domain name <hackedsnapchatphotos.com> is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy. The Panel finds that it is. The disputed domain name incorporates in full Complainant's registered mark, SNAPCHAT, and combines it with the terms "hacked" and "photos" which together are descriptive of a common Internet strategy of entering someone else's account and viewing its content.
Numerous UDRP panels have agreed that supplementing or modifying a trademark with generic or descriptive words does not make a domain name any less "identical or confusingly similar" for purposes of satisfying this first prong of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy. See, for example, Microsoft Corporation v. StepWeb, WIPO Case No. D2000-1500 (transferring <microsofthome.com>); Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Horoshiy, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2004-0620 (transferring <walmartbenfits.com>); General Electric Company v. Recruiters, WIPO Case No. D2007-0584 (transferring <ge-recruiting.com>).
The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which Complainant has rights in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel next considers whether Complainant has shown that Respondent has no "rights or legitimate interests" as must be proven to succeed in a UDRP dispute. Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy gives examples that might show rights or legitimate interests in a domain name. These examples include: (i) use of the domain name "in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services"; (ii) demonstration that the respondent has been "commonly known by the domain name"; or (iii) "legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue".
No evidence has been presented to this Panel that might support a claim of Respondent's rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and Respondent has no license from, or other affiliation with, Complainant.
Therefore, this Panel finds that Complainant has established a prima facie cae that Respondent lacks "rights or legitimate interests" in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy which Respondent has not rebutted.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
There are several ways that a complainant can demonstrate that a domain name was registered and used in bad faith. For example, paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy states that bad faith can be shown where "by using the domain name [the respondent has] intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [the respondent's] web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of [the respondent's] web site or location or of a product or service on [the] web site or location". As noted in Section 4 of this Panel's decision, Respondent has a message on its website that says "Just $1 gets you inside the VIP area with over 100,000 Hacked Cell Phone Photos." Respondent is thus trading on the goodwill of Complainant's trademarks to attract Internet users, presumably for Respondent's own commercial gain. This evidences bad faith by Respondent.
Complainant also submitted evidence that Respondent has engaged in a pattern of registering similar domain names, thereby further evidencing bad faith in accordance with paragraph 4(b)(ii), with other registrations including <hackedfacebookphotos.com>, <hackedinstagramphotos.com>, <hackedkikphotos.com>, and <hackedtwitterphotos.com>.
Given the overall circumstances, the Panel finds that Respondent was undoubtedly aware of Complainant's rights when registering and using the disputed domain name. Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
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 <hackedsnapchatphotos.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: April 28, 2016