WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Snap Inc. v. Dima Rogov
Case No. D2017-0017
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Snap Inc. of Venice, California, United States of America (“US”), represented by Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, US.
The Respondent is Dima Rogov of Herz, Afghanistan.
2. The Domain Names and Registrars
The disputed domain names <snap-chat.biz> and <snap-chat.org> are registered with Internet Domain Service BS Corp (the “Registrar 1”).
The disputed domain name <snap-chat.me> is registered with TLD Registrar Solutions Ltd. (the “Registrar 2”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 6, 2017. On January 9, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrars a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On January 10, 2017, the Registrars 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 16, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was February 5, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 6, 2017.
The Center appointed Andrea Mondini as the sole panelist in this matter on February 24, 2017. 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 designs and distributes the popular Snapchat messaging application (“Snapchat App”) that allows users to share photographs, videos, and messages with others via mobile devices. Since its launch in 2011, the Snapchat App has become one of the fastest growing and most popular applications in the world. The Complainant also operates a website at “www.snapchat.com”, which provides information on the Snapchat App.
The Complainant is the owner of several registrations for the trademark SNAPCHAT, including US registration no. 4375712, registered on July 30, 2013 in class 9, and European Union Trademark registration no. 011827334, registered on October 16, 2013 in classes 9, 38 and 45.
The Respondent registered the disputed domain names <snap-chat.biz>, <snap-chat.org> and <snap-chat.me> (hereinafter collectively the “Disputed Domain Names”) on June 12, 2016.
The Disputed Domain Names redirect to different websites offering sex dating and pornographic materials.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends in essence:
- That the trademark SNAPCHAT is inherently distinctive and that, as a result of the widespread use by the Complainant, this trademark has acquired a high degree of public recognition and goodwill;
- That the Disputed Domain Names are identical or confusingly similar to its trademark SNAPCHAT since they include the entirety of this trademark, considering that the separation of “snap” and “chat” with a hyphen does not abate the likelihood of confusion;
- That the use of the Disputed Domain Names for pornographic dating sites does not constitute bona fide offering of goods or services;
- That the Respondent is not sponsored or affiliated in any way with the Complainant, nor commonly known by the Disputed Domain Names;
- That the Complaint has not given to the Respondent permission to use the Complainant’s trademark in any manner;
- That the fact that the Respondent’s website content refers to the Snapchat App shows that the Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Names in bad faith with actual knowledge of the Complainant’s trademark SNAPCHAT;
- That the Respondent is using the Disputed Domain Names in bad faith by redirecting them to a pornographic dating site and by diverting Internet traffic for the Respondent’s financial gain.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, in order to succeed, a complainant must establish each of the following elements:
(i) The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights;
(ii) The respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) The disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has shown that it is the holder of several registrations of the trademark SNAPCHAT in numerous jurisdictions. The Disputed Domain Names include the entirety of this trademark. In the Panel’s opinion, the separation of “snap” and “chat” with a hyphen does not suffice to dispel confusing similarity.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Names are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s SNAPCHAT trademark in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. 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 name.
Although the complainant bears the ultimate burden of establishing this element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, previous UDRP panels have recognized that this could result in the potentially impossible task of proving a negative proposition. Such proof requires information that is primarily within the knowledge of the respondent. Therefore, the common view is that the burden of production shifts to the respondent to come forward with evidence of a right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name once the complainant has established a prima facie showing indicating the absence of such rights or legitimate interests. See, e.g., Document Technologies Inc. v. International Electronic Communications Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0270.
In the present case, the Respondent is not commonly known by the Disputed Domain Names. Moreover, the Complainant has declared that it is not affiliated in any way with the Respondent and that it has not authorized the Respondent to use its trademark SNAPCHAT in any way. The Respondent has not contested these allegations. Moreover, the Panel finds that the Respondent’s use of the Disputed Domain Names in connection with pornographic dating sites does not amount to a bona fide offering of goods or services within the meaning of the Policy.
In the light of the Complainant having established an unrebutted prima facie case, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Names.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The fact that the Respondent’s website content refers to the Snapchat App indicates that the Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant’s mark and business and that it registered the Disputed Domain Names to capitalize on its fame and goodwill. The Respondent has not denied this allegation. Therefore, the Panel finds that the Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Names in bad faith.
The evidence submitted by the Complainant shows that the Respondent has used the Disputed Domain Names to divert Internet users for financial gain to a website featuring adult content. In the Panel’s opinion this constitutes use in bad faith.
Therefore, this Panel finds that the Respondent registered and is using the Disputed Domain Names 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 Names <snap-chat.biz>, <snap-chat.me> and <snap-chat.org> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: February 27, 2017