WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
NCI Group, Inc. v. Gab White, NCI
Case No. D2017-1910
1. The Parties
Complainant is NCI Group, Inc. of Houston, Texas, United States of America (“United States”), represented by Bracewell L.L.P., United States.
Respondent is Gab White, NCI of Houston, Texas, United States.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <ncibuildingsystem.com> is registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 29, 2017. On October 2, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 3, 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. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on October 26, 2017.
The Center appointed Lawrence K. Nodine as the sole panelist in this matter on November 3, 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
Complainant is a Houston, Texas based company. For approximately twenty five years, Complainant has done business as NCI Building Systems. It owns the trademarks NCI (United States Reg. No. 75053842; registered January 7, 1997); NCI BUILDING COMPONENTS (United States Reg. No. 2028844, registered January 7, 1997); and NCI BUILDINGS GROUP (United States Reg. No. 4560497, registered July 1, 2014). In addition, Complainant owns the domain name <ncibuildingsystems.com> (registered August 11, 2004).
Respondent is a Houston, Texas based individual who registered the disputed domain name <ncibuildingsystem.com> on July 20, 2017. The disputed domain name does not resolve to an active website.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant alleges that Respondent registered the disputed domain name to send emails in an attempt to purchase electronic equipment from or establish credit with vendors by falsely claiming to represent Complainant. According to Complainant, Respondent’s emails included a signature block purportedly of Complainant’s Vice President of Procurement. Complainant maintains that it did not authorize the emails and that it was alerted to the emails when vendors contacted it after receiving the emails.
According to Complainant, the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark as evidenced by the confusion expressed by the vendors who contacted Complainant to inquire whether Complainant had authorized the emails sent by Respondent. Moreover, Complainant alleges that Respondent cannot establish any rights or legitimate interest to the disputed domain name as he is using the disputed domain name for a fraudulent purpose. Lastly, Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith as evidenced by the fact that Respondent provided false registration credentials when registering the disputed domain name (e.g., Respondent attempted to register the disputed domain name to make it appear that the registrant was Complainant’s Vice President of Procurement and Complainant was the registrant organization) and then created an email address associated with the disputed domain name that appeared to belong to Complainant’s Vice President of Procurement for the purpose of furthering a scheme to fraudulently obtain equipment by posing as Complainant.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Complainant’s trademark registrations establish that it has rights in the marks NCI, NCI BUILDING COMPONENTS, and NCI BUILDINGS GROUP. The disputed domain name incorporates the mark NCI in its entirety and a substantial portion of the marks NCI BUILDING COMPONENTS and NCI BUILDINGS GROUP such that the dominant feature in both of the marks (NCI BUILDING) is recognizable in the disputed domain name. The addition of “system” does nothing to dispel the potential confusion. In fact, considering that Complainant conducts business as NCI Building Systems, the addition exacerbates the confusion, making it appear that communications from an email associated with the disputed domain name are Complainant’s. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s marks for the purposes of conferring UDRP standing and that Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Complainant has presented a prima facie case for Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. For example, Complainant has alleged that Respondent has used the disputed domain name for the purposes of fraudulently acquiring electronic equipment from Complainant’s vendors. The Complaint paints a picture of a sophisticated scheme by Respondent (involving the registration of the disputed domain name that differs from Complainant’s own domain name by a single letter and the provision of false registration information to make it appear that the disputed domain name is legitimately associated with Complainant) to defraud businesses by posing as Complainant. Respondent has failed to respond and rebut Complainant’s accusation of serious misuse of the disputed domain name.
Thus, Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Respondent registered and has used the disputed domain name in bad faith. Respondent’s awareness of Complainant and its marks is evident. Respondent originally attempted to register the disputed to make it appear as if Complainant’s Vice President of Procurement was the registrant. Until Complainant lodged an inaccuracy complaint with ICANN, the WhoIs information for the disputed domain name listed Complainant’s Vice President of Procurement as the registrant, Complainant as the registrant organization, and Complainant’s address as the registrant address. This supports the inference that Respondent registered and intended to use the disputed domain name for an improper purpose. See Mrs. Eva Padberg v. Eurobox Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2007-1886 (providing false contact details matching those of complainant “points to bad faith registration and use”); see also WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) section 3.2.1 (“[T]he use of (false) contact details … to hide the registrant’s identity” supports an inference of bad faith.). Complainant offers unrebutted evidence that Respondent contacted vendors using an email address associated with the disputed domain name posing as Complainant’s Vice President of Procurement. With these emails, Respondent sought fraudulently to order electronic equipment on credit. This is bad faith use under the Policy.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name was registered and used 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 name <ncibuildingsystem.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Lawrence K. Nodine
Date: November 16, 2017