WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Ropes & Gray LLP v. David Turcotte
Case No. D2017-2474
1. The Parties
Complainant is Ropes & Gray LLP of Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America ("United States"), represented internally.
Respondent is David Turcotte of Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <ropsgray.com> is registered with FastDomain, Inc. (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on December 15, 2017. On the same date, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On December 18, 2017, 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 December 20, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for a response was January 9, 2018. The Center received email communications from a third party on January 9, 2018 and January 11, 2018. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent's default on January 10, 2018.
The Center appointed Michael A. Albert as the sole panelist in this matter on January 25, 2018. 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, Ropes & Gray LLP, is an international law firm founded by John Codman Ropes and John Chipman Gray in 1865. Complainant has always been known by the name "Ropes & Gray" and has attracted substantial press attention worldwide.
Complainant owns and uses its ROPES & GRAY trademark (United States Reg. No. 2902936, registered November 16, 2004) in connection with its ongoing business activities.
Complainant registered on October 12, 1995, and continues to use, its principal domain name <ropesgray.com>.
The disputed domain name was registered on June 5, 2017. It resolves to a webpage displaying pay-per-click links.
5. Parties' Contentions
Complainant contends that the disputed domain name, <ropsgray.com>, is a common mistyping of Complainant's registered trademark as it differs from Complainant's mark merely by one letter – the omission of the letter "e". Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is therefore likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, and to deceive as to the affiliation, connection or association of Respondent with Complainant Ropes & Gray LLP.
Complainant contends that there is no relationship or affiliation between Complainant and Respondent giving rise to any license, permission or other right by which Respondent could own or use any domain name incorporating Complainant's registered trademark ROPES & GRAY.
Complainant further contends that Respondent intentionally attempted to imitate Complainant's Ropes & Gray name, and its <ropesgray.com> domain name in a phishing attempt by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of Respondent's website or of a product or service on Respondent's website.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant's distinctive mark. It is visually and phonetically similar and almost identical to Complainant's mark. Respondent merely omitted the letter "e" and ampersand in Complainant's ROPES & GRAY trademark. A domain name that contains a common or obvious misspelling of a trademark (often termed "typosquatting") is confusingly similar to such trademark, where the misspelled trademark remains the dominant or principal component of the domain name. See Hogan Lovells International LLP v. Proxy Protection LLC, WIPO Case No. D2017-0921.
The Panel finds that Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
On June 5, 2017, Respondent registered the disputed domain name <ropsgray.com> without Complainant's authorization. Respondent's registration was more than 150 years after Complainant was founded, more than 20 years after registration of Complainant's domain name <ropesgray.com>, and more than a decade after Complainant's registration of its trademark ROPES & GRAY.
Complainant's rights in its ROPES & GRAY mark are clearly established by its registration and continued use. Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Respondent is neither known by, nor authorized to use, Complainant's mark. In addition, nothing in the record reflects Respondent's use of the disputed domain name in connection with any bona fide offering of goods or services.
The Panel finds that Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Respondent was undoubtedly aware of Complainant and had Complainant's ROPES & GRAY mark in mind when registering the disputed domain name. The similarity between the disputed domain name and Complainant's well-known mark make it highly implausible that Respondent's registration of a confusingly similar domain name was not an intentional effort to capitalize on or otherwise take advantage of the likely confusion with Complainant's trademark rights. By registering and using a domain name that merely omits the "e" in Complainant's mark, Respondent deliberately set out to cause confusion, to cause mistake, and to deceive as to the affiliation, connection or association of Respondent with Complainant.
Complainant has also shown that Respondent's intent is to mislead or to deceive Complainant's current and prospective clients through phishing emails using the disputed domain name. As part of the phishing scam, Respondent included the disputed domain name in an email sent from an alleged attorney of Ropes & Gray LLP requesting "$150,000" from the email recipient. That alone amounts to bad faith.
The Panel finds that Complainant has satisfied 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 <ropsgray.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Michael A. Albert
Date: February 5, 2018