WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

CoStar Realty Information, Inc. v. Turcu Rhea Simone

Case No. D2016-1169

1. The Parties

The Complainant is CoStar Realty Information, Inc. of Washington, DC, United States of America (“United States”), represented by Drinker, Biddle & Reath, LLP, United States.

The Respondent is Turcu Rhea Simone of Bolton, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“United Kingdom”).

2. The Domain Names and Registrar

The disputed domain names <apartments-invoice.com> and <office-apartments.com> (the “Disputed Domain Names”) are registered with 1&1 Internet AG (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 9, 2016. On June 10, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Names. On June 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. An amended Complaint was filed with the Center on June 16, 2016.

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 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on June 17, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was July 7, 2016. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on July 10, 2016.

The Center appointed John Swinson as the sole panelist in this matter on July 13, 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 is CoStar Realty Information, Inc, a company which operates and markets an online database of rental properties via a website at <apartments.com>. The Complainant states that its website received more than 81 million visitors in the past 12 months.

The Complainant owns registered trade mark number UK00003093502 for APARTMENTS.COM plus device in the United Kingdom, registered on May 1, 2015 (the “Trade Mark”). It also owns trade mark application number 86328507 for APARTMENTS.COM plus device in the United States, filed on July 3, 2014.

The Respondent is Turcu Rhea Simone of the United Kingdom. The Respondent did not provide a response to the Complaint, so the Panel has little further information regarding the Respondent.

The Disputed Domain Names were registered on March 31, 2016. There is currently no active website at either of the Disputed Domain Names.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant makes the following submissions.

Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Disputed Domain Names are confusingly similar to the Trade Mark.

The Trade Mark has become recognized by consumers worldwide as designating the Complainant as the source of services provided under the Trade Mark. The Trade Mark is extremely valuable to the Complainant.

Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Respondent is not authorized to use the Trade Mark. The Disputed Domain Names do not represent the Respondent’s name, business name or trading name. There is no legitimate basis for the Respondent’s registration of the Disputed Domain Names.

The Respondent is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Disputed Domain Names. The Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Names which are confusingly similar to the Trade Mark in order to attract the Complainant’s consumers.

Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Respondent’s use of the Disputed Domain Names, the dominant parts of which are identical to the Trade Mark, demonstrates that the Respondent is attempting to mislead consumers into believing that the Respondent is affiliated with the Complainant, or that the websites at the Disputed Domain Names are sponsored, approved or endorsed by the Complainant.

The Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Names in order to disrupt the Complainant’s business. The Respondent is attempting to defraud consumers into believing the websites at the Disputed Domain Names belong to the Complainant. The Respondent is masquerading as the Complainant and has tried to persuade consumers into making payments via the websites at the Disputed Domain Names. The Complainant has received notice of at least two instances in which consumers were deceived by the Respondent in this way.

The Respondent’s actions are causing irreparable damage to the Trade Mark.

The Respondent’s use of the Disputed Domain Names constitutes bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

To succeed, the Complainant must demonstrate that all of the elements enumerated in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been satisfied, namely:

(i) the Disputed Domain Names are identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and

(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Names; and

(iii) the Disputed Domain Names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.

The onus of proving these elements remains on the Complainant even though Respondent has not filed a Response.

A. Failure to File a Response

The Respondent’s failure to file a response does not automatically result in a decision in favor of the Complainant (see, e.g., Airbus SAS, Airbus Operations GmbH v. Alesini Pablo Hernan / PrivacyProtect.org, WIPO Case No. D2013-2059). However, the Panel may draw appropriate inferences from the Respondent’s default.

B. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy provides that the Complainant must establish that the Disputed Domain Names are identical or confusingly similar to the Trade Mark.

The Panel considers that, in the circumstances of this case, it is arguable that the Disputed Domain Names are confusingly similar to the Trade Mark. Each of the Disputed Domain Names wholly incorporates the textual elements of the Trade Mark, and on a visual comparison, given the fame of the Trade Mark, it is recognizable within each of the Disputed Domain Names. The Trade Mark is combined with commonplace terms which can be associated with the Complainant’s business. The Respondent did not respond to this submission.

The Complainant succeeds on the first element of the Policy.

C. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy provides that the Complainant must establish that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Names. The Complainant is required to make out a prima facie case showing that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests.

The Panel considers the Complainant has made out a prima facie case. This finding is based on the following:

- The Respondent has not used, or made demonstrable preparations to use, the Disputed Domain Names in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. Currently, there is no active website associated with either of the Disputed Domain Names. According to the Complainant’s submissions, the Respondent has previously used the websites at the Disputed Domain Names, and email addresses associated with the Disputed Domain Names, in relation to a financial scam. This is not a bona fide use of the Disputed Domain Names under the Policy.

- The Panel accepts the Complainant’s submission that the Complainant has not authorized or otherwise given the Respondent permission to use the Disputed Domain Names.

- There is no evidence that the Respondent has been commonly known by the Disputed Domain Names, or has registered or common law trade mark rights in relation these names.

- The Respondent has not been making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Disputed Domain Names without intent for commercial gain. The Panel accepts the Complainant’s submission that the websites at the Disputed Domain Names were previously being used in relation to a scam.

The Respondent had the opportunity to demonstrate their rights or legitimate interests, but did not do so. As such, the prima facie case established by the Complainant has not been rebutted and the Complainant succeeds on the second element of the Policy.

D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy provides that the Complainant must establish that the Respondent registered and subsequently used the Disputed Domain Names in bad faith.

The websites at the Disputed Domain Names are currently inactive. However, the Complainant submits that those websites have previously been used in relation to a financial scam.

The Complainant has provided evidence of an email sent from an email address associated with one of the Disputed Domain Names. This email purports to be a confirmation of entry into a lease for a rental property sent by “Apartments.com staff”. The email requests payment of money for rent or a deposit into a particular bank account, and requests that payment confirmation be sent to an email address corresponding to that of the Respondent as provided in the WhoIs information for both of the Disputed Domain Names.

The Complainant submits that this email is part of a fraudulent scheme which uses the Disputed Domain Names, and the Panel accepts that submission. This constitutes bad faith registration and use under the Policy.

In the absence of a Response and any evidence rebutting bad faith registration and use, the Panel finds that the Complainant has succeeded on the third element of the Policy.

7. Decision

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 Names, <apartments-invoice.com> and <office-apartments.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.

John Swinson
Sole Panelist
Date: July 25, 2016