WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
General Motors LLC v. Jeff Shenk, MediaTrac LLC
Case No. D2017-1817
1. The Parties
The Complainant is General Motors LLC of Detroit, Michigan, United States of America (“United States”), represented by Abelman Frayne & Schwab, United States.
The Respondent is Jeff Shenk, MediaTrac LLC of San Ramon, California, United States.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <mychevyrewards.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 September 20, 2017. On September 21, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 22, 2017, 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 October 5, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 25, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 26, 2017.
The Center appointed Evan D. Brown as the sole panelist in this matter on November 10, 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 owns a number of trademarks for the famous mark CHEVROLET as well as the variation CHEVY. These include United States trademark registration 1,661,627 for CHEVROLET (registered October 22, 1991) and United States trademark registration 2,357,128 for CHEVY (registered June 13, 2000). Through widespread use – in the case of CHEVROLET going back well over a century to 1911‑these marks are associated with one of the most well-known brands in the world. The Respondent registered the disputed domain name on January 18, 2007. At the time of the filing of the Complaint, the disputed domain name did not resolve to an active website. The Complainant asserts, however, that in the past, the disputed domain name resolved to the websites of another company and its successor in interest involved with automobile customer loyalty programs. The Complainant asserts that the individual associated with the registration of the disputed domain name had previously managed a large online consumer automobile selling website, and that he works for one of the companies associated with the websites to which the disputed domain name had resolved. Those companies were founded by an individual who formerly held a management position with the Complainant’s affiliate.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademarks; that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, for this Complaint to succeed in relation to the disputed domain name, the Complainant must prove each of the following, namely that:
(i) The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark 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 name; and
(iii) The disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant undoubtedly has rights in the mark CHEVY. The mark is associated with one of the most recognizable automobile brands in the world, having been in widespread use for many years since 1911. The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to this mark. It contains the mark in its entirety, accompanied only by the dictionary terms “my” and “rewards”. This additional material (along with the generic Top-Level Domain “.com”) does nothing to meaningfully distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainant’s mark for purposes of the Policy. Accordingly, the Panel finds in favor of the Complainant on this first element of the UDRP.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant will be successful under this element of the UDRP if it makes a prima facie showing that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and if that prima facie showing remains unrebutted by the Respondent. The Complainant asserts that the Respondent has not received any license or consent from the Complainant to use its CHEVY mark as a domain name or in any other manner. Nor has the Respondent been commonly known by the disputed domain name, and has not otherwise acquired any trademark rights related to the disputed domain name. The Panel agrees with the Complainant’s assertion that the use of the disputed domain name in these circumstances to direct visitors to a website unconnected with the Complainant does not constitute use in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services, nor can it be considered a legitimate use of the disputed domain name. These assertions establish the Complainant’s prima facie case. The Respondent has not answered the Complainant’s assertions, and, seeing no basis in the record to overcome the Complainant’s prima facie showing, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied this second UDRP element.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Under these facts, it is clear that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s marks when it registered the disputed domain name, and that it did so with bad faith. The Complainant’s CHEVY mark was famous in 2007 when the disputed domain name was registered. And the experience of the individuals involved with the Respondent make it impossible to conclude registration was made without knowledge of the CHEVY mark. The Respondent likewise used the disputed domain name in bad faith by using it to redirect to a website unconnected with the Complainant. This use of the disputed domain name was clearly an effort to divert potential customers of the Complainant to the Respondent’s website, thereby disrupting the Complainant’s business. For these reasons, the Complainant has satisfied this third element of the UDRP.
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 <mychevyrewards.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Evan D. Brown
Date: November 20, 2017