WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
EMWG S.r.l., Idro Group Scarl v. Domains By Proxy, LLC / Richard Greco
Case No. D2018-0509
1. The Parties
The Complainants are EMWG S.r.l. of Seregno, Italy (the First Complainant) and Idro Group Scarl of Seregno, Italy (the Second Complainant), represented by Studio Legale Cattaneo Biscuola Cammareri, Italy.
The Respondent is Domains By Proxy, LLC of Scottsdale, Arizona, United States of America (“United States”) / Richard Greco of Tuckahoe, New York, United States, self-represented.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <emwg.org>, <emwgsrl.com>, <idrogroup.org>, and <idrogroupscarl.com> are registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 6, 2018. On March 7, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On March 8, 2018, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain names which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on March 15, 2018, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on March 20, 2018.
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 March 21, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was April 10, 2018. The Response was filed with the Center on April 10, 2018.
The Center appointed Warwick A. Rothnie as the sole panelist in this matter on April 24, 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
The First Complainant is an Italian company which specializes in the design, construction and supply of compact and mobile water treatment systems. From the documents submitted in the proceeding, it appears that its products have particular application in various parts of the world by UN peacekeeping and other relief missions.
The Second Complainant is part of the same corporate group as the First Complainant. The documents describe the Second Complainant as an Italian consortium, the members of which are the First Complainant, a company called Idrodepurazione S.r.L., which operates in the fields of water treatment, and SWENCO SAGL (formerly known as Swiss Engineering and Consultants). The Second Complainant has a small shareholding in the First Complainant. The First Complainant has a 25 per cent shareholding in the Second Complainant. Members of the Benedetti family or their associates appear to be associated with both companies.
The First Complainant was established in June 2001. Although the Complaint asserts the First Complainant has been known by its current name from that date, it appears from documents submitted in the proceeding it was originally known as Italian Engineers and Consultants S.r.L. At some point before February 2015, it changed its name to IENCO S.r.L. It appears to have adopted its current name some time after February 2015.1 So far as can be established from the documents submitted in the proceeding, the circumstances appear to be as follows.
For some years prior to 2015, the Respondent Greco2 was operating a business from Italy in the water treatment field under the name Euro Mec S.R.L. of Mantova, Italy.3 It was a wholly owned subsidiary of another Italian company, Euro Mec Water Group S.r.L. of Brescia Italy. In July 2013, the Respondent incorporated a company in the United States under the name Euro Mec Water Group USA LLC. In September 2013, that company changed its name to Euro Mec Water Group LLC. According to the Respondent, he incorporated this company to act as the American arm of Euro Mec Water Group S.r.L. of Mantova’s business.
During 2014, some form of due diligence was undertaken on Euro Mec Water Group S.r.L. of Mantova’s business by the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank and “XPV”, “a Canadian private equity fund”. The upshot of that due diligence was a recognition that the Euro Mec Water Group S.r.L. of Mantova’s business was seriously underfunded and facing insolvency. That led the Respondent to seek investors.
In February 2015, the Respondent’s efforts resulted in a lease of Euro Mec Water Group S.r.L.’s compact and mobile water treatment business to the First Complainant, by then known as IENCO SRL. The Respondent became, or was to become, the holder of 40 per cent of the shares in IENCO SRL and two members of the Benedetti family, Michele and Eleanora Benedetti, retained (or were to retain) the remaining 60 per cent. The Respondent was to have a salary of EUR 120,000 per annum, to promote the business. In connection with those activities, an office was subsequently leased in New York by IDRO US Inc (formerly known as EMWG Inc.).4
When the First Complainant leased the compact and mobile water treatment business, it changed its name from IENCO SRL to Euro Mec Water Group S.r.L. of Seregno in Italy.5 At some undisclosed point between May 2015 and January 2018, the First Complainant changed its name to EMWG S.r.L.
By May 2017, the Benedetti interests acquired the remaining assets of the Respondent’s original Italian company, Euro Mec Water Group S.r.L. of Brescia Italy.
By June, or at latest August, 2017, there had been a falling out between the Respondent and the Benedetti interests. That led, amongst other things, in January 2018 to the Respondent and companies associated with him (including Filangieri Capital Partners) commencing proceedings in the Supreme Court of New York against 14 named defendants including both Complainants. The suit claims damages for breach of contract and unjust enrichment amongst other things. The Complainants and related defendants have brought a motion to dismiss the suit on various grounds including lack of jurisdiction and forum non conveniens.
Since it began operating the business, the First Complainant has been supplying compact and mobile water treatment equipment and services to operations in many parts of the world including especially, Africa, Asia and Central and South America.
The Complainants promote their business activities from a number of websites including “www.idrogrup.net”, “www.idro.net” and “www.emwg.eu”.
The Second Complainant owns Italian Registered Trademark No. 302015000062493 for IDRO GROUP and device in International Classes 11, 40 and 42. This trademark was filed on October 2015 and registered on June 21, 2017. The Second Complainant has also applied to register a monochrome version of the same figurative trademark as a European Union Trademark, No. 017250648. That application was filed on September 27, 2017, but has been opposed by the Respondent.
The Complainants also claim rights in EMWG and IDRO GROUP as unregistered trademarks. This is put partly on the basis of use and partly on the basis of rights arising under articles 12 and 22 of the Italian Code of Industrial Property.
The Respondent registered the first disputed domain name on November 9, 2015. The Respondent registered the second, third and fourth disputed domain names on October 28, 2017.
At the time of this proceeding, the first disputed domain name resolves to a website of Filangieri Capital Partners. That is a United States company closely associated with the Respondent. Although it is not entirely clear from the documents in the proceeding, it appears to be the corporate vehicle through which the Respondent provides his consulting services and, according to the New York Complaint, has billed and been paid by the Complainants’ interests for the Respondent’s services including his “salary” under the lease arrangements described above.
This website has several pages. In addition to promoting the services of the company, the website includes a media announcement about the court action initiated in the Supreme Court of New York and links through to the copy of the complaint on the Supreme Court’s website.
The second, third and fourth disputed domain names resolve directly to a page displaying the New York Complaint.
5. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy provides that, to divest the Respondent of the disputed domain names, the Complainant must demonstrate for each of the disputed domain names each of the following:
(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 that disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules requires the Panel to decide the dispute on the basis of the statements and documents that have been submitted and any rules and principles of law deemed applicable.
The two Complainants assert two different trademarks against the Respondent. As the two Complainants are closely related, with mutual shareholdings and associations with the Benedetti family, it appears that they can reasonably be regarded as part of the one broader undertaking. Indeed, that is how the First Complainant’s business is promoted on the website at “www.idro.net”. In addition, both Complainants challenge the registration and use of the disputed domain names by the same Respondent and, apart from the first disputed domain name, the Respondent uses each disputed domain name in precisely the same way. Even in the case of the first disputed domain name, prominence is given to promotion of the Respondent’s court case against, amongst others, the Complainants.
In these circumstances, the Panel considers it is appropriate to proceed on the basis of the consolidated Complaint. WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 4.11.1.
B. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The first element that the Complainants must establish is that each disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights.
There are two parts to this inquiry: the Complainants must demonstrate that they have rights in their respective trademarks and, if so, the disputed domain names must be shown to be identical or confusingly similar to the trademark.
The Second Complainant has proven ownership of Italian Registered Trademark for a figurative version of IDRO GROUP referred to in section 4 above. The opposed European Union Trademark Application, however, does not qualify for this purpose. WIPO Overview 3.0, section 1.1.4.
The requirement of trademark (or service mark) rights under the Policy can be satisfied by unregistered rights as well as registered trademarks.
To date, however, Panels have not accepted rights in the company name under the Italian Code of Industrial Property as qualifying. See G. Bellentani 1821 S.p.A. v. Stanley Filoramo WIPO Case No. D2003-0783:
“First of all, the Policy does not extend to trade names. The reasons as to why the Policy should not extend to trade names have been discussed in the final Report of the Second WIPO Internet Domain Name Process, WIPO Publication No. 843, Paragraph 306-320.”
and Luppi & Crugnola S.r.l v. Eurobox Ltd and BusinessServis Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2009-0252. The argument is put differently in those cases to the present case, which invokes articles 12 and 22 of the Italian Code. The gravamen of the Complainants’ claim, however, appears to be the protection of the trade name per se rather than any rights deriving from use of the the name as a trademark; i.e., as a badge of origin. In the absence of more considered submissions, therefore, the Panel is not prepared to depart from the approach taken in the earlier rulings.
Annex 14 to the Complaint includes a brochure featuring the EMWG® sign and the IDRO GROUP figurative mark. No details of its date, how it has been distributed, in what quantities or what geographical areas have been provided. The Panel is not willing to infer sufficient use of this document to support reputation in the EMWG sign as an unregistered trademark. WIPO Overview 3.0, section 1.3.
Both of the websites to which the Complainants’ respective domain names resolve feature prominently the sign EMWG®. It appears from the Wayback Machine that the sign EMWG® has been used prominently on the First Complainant’s website in this way since early 2016. There is evidence that, before the lease of the business to the First Complainant, the business had achieved in the order of USD 100 million in sales. In his pleading in the court case in the Supreme Court of New York, the Respondent claims that his work for the company after the lease generated business which led to the First Complainant generating revenues of some EUR 22 million in the years 2015 to 2017 and being valued at USD 7 – 10 million.
In his Response, the Respondent disputes only that the Complainants have any use or reputation in the United States only. The Respondent also objects to the First Complainant’s use of the ® symbol in association with the sign EMWG. The Panel is therefore willing to find that the Complainants have sufficient use of the sign EMWG to give rise to rights in that sign as an unregistered trademark in what appears to be a fairly specialized area.
The Panel accepts the Respondent’s point that the evidence does not establish use or reputation in the United States. Indeed, the Complainants’ evidence in support of their application to dismiss the proceedings in the Supreme Court of New York is essentially predicated on them not having any business in or anything other than the most transitory of contacts with the United States.
The First Complainant’s use of the ® symbol in connection with its sign is, or appears to be, misleading as it is not a registered trademark anywhere on the evidence in this proceeding. That does not mean, however, that the First Complainant has not generated reputation in the sign sufficient to constitute an unregistered trademark. The Respondent has not provided any arguments to support a finding that the misrepresentation in an of itself wholly disentitles the First Complainant from claiming the benefit of the reputation.
Annexes 15 and 16 to the Complaint each include a brochure or catalogue promoting the “Idro Group” featuring the figurative mark. As with the First Complainant’s brochure, no details are supplied about the dates, quantities or distribution of these brochures. The Panel also notes allegations in the New York Complaint that in the order of 95 per cent of the group’s business is the First Complainant’s business.6 The Panel acknowledges that the New York Complaint contains allegations rather than necessarily sworn evidence. Bearing in mind the scale of revenues for the First Complainant identified above and the onus on the Second Complainant to make out its case, the Panel is not prepared to infer the existence of sufficient reputation in the “Idro GROUP” sign for it to constitute an unregistered trademark.
Disregarding the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) elements, the first disputed domain name is identical to the First Complainant’s trademark EMWG.
The second disputed domain name differs only by the addition of “srl”, a reasonably widely known designation of a type of corporate entity under Italian law. Accordingly, the Panel considers the second disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the First Complainant’s trademark.
The third and fourth disputed domain names consist of the verbal element of the Second Complainant’s registered Italian trademark and, in the case of the fourth disputed domain name, the letters “scarl” which is another corporate identifier under Italian law.
In the present case, the design elements certainly add character to the trademark. However, the verbal element “idro group” is the most prominent feature and would be the natural reference for the figurative trademark. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the third and fourth disputed domain names are confusingly similar to the Second Complainant’s trademark.
C. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The second requirement the Complainant must prove is that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names.
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides that the following circumstances may be situations in which the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name:
(i) before any notice to [the Respondent] of the dispute, [the Respondent’s] use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the [disputed] domain name or a name corresponding to the [disputed] domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) [the Respondent] (as an individual, business, or other organization) has been commonly known by the [disputed] domain name, even if [the Respondent] has acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) [the Respondent] is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the [disputed] domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.
These are illustrative only and are not an exhaustive listing of the situations in which a respondent can show rights or legitimate interests in a domain name.
The onus of proving this requirement, like each element, falls on the complainant. UDRP panels have recognized the difficulties inherent in proving a negative, however, especially in circumstances where much of the relevant information is in, or likely to be in, the possession of the respondent. Accordingly, it is usually sufficient for a complainant to raise a prima facie case against the respondent under this head, and an evidential burden will shift to the respondent to rebut that prima facie case. See, e.g., section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0.
The Complainants contend that they are the sole and exclusive owners of their respective trademarks, they have not licensed or authorised the Respondent to use their trademarks and the Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain names.
These are considerations which are often sufficient to raise a prima facie case against a respondent that it does not have rights or legitimate interests.
In rebuttal, the Respondent points to his ownership of the disputed domain names (for which he says he has paid all the fees). That is not in itself a sufficient basis as the terms of the registration agreement make it clear any registration is subject to the Policy.
The Respondent further says he is entitled to the disputed domain names through his ownership claims in the First Complainant. In addition, the Respondent states that he registered the first disputed domain name when he was the owner of Euro Mec Water Group LLC and used it in connection with promotion of the compact and mobile water treatment business of the First Complainant. Finally, the Respondent claims he is making a legitimate and noncommercial fair use of the disputed domain name in connection with his dispute with the Complainants and the Benedetti interests.
It is plain from the New York Complaint that the Respondent does claim an ownership interest in the First Complainant. The Panel does not consider, however, that the Respondent’s interest as a shareholder in the First Complainant (assuming his claim is upheld) entitles him to rights in or over the first or second disputed domain names. Ordinarily, a shareholder would not be regarded as the owner of the company’s property especially where, as here, there are a number of independent shareholding interests.
Even if the status of a shareholder conferred such rights, the Panel can see no basis on which that would give rise to ownership of the third and fourth disputed domain names which use the trademark of the Second Complainant, not the First Complainant.
So far as the materials in this proceeding go, it does appear that the Respondent was the owner of Euro Mec Water Group LLC when he registered the first disputed domain name. That could, arguably, provide a basis for a claim to rights in the first disputed domain name as it is an acronym of that company’s name.
However, it appears from the Respondent’s own New York Complaint that he is no longer the owner of that company and ceased to be so when the Benedetti interests bought out the remainder of the assets of the Respondent’s “Euro Mec” business at the bankruptcy auction in May 2017. (If the Respondent is still the owner of the shares in the company, it is curious to say the least that he is suing it as part of his New York proceedings.)
In addition, the disputed domain name now resolves to a website promoting the services of Filangieri Capital Partners. As those services, especially given the Respondent’s court action, appear to be in competition with the Complainant’s business, the Panel would not regard them as a bona fide offering of goods or services under the Policy. “EMWG” only has significance as the trademark associated with the business formerly operated by the Respondent and subsequently undertaken by the First Complainant.
The website at the first disputed domain name does include information prominently about the Respondent’s dispute with the Complainants. However, it does very much more; promoting the Respondent’s commercial services. Those features of the website are not incidental. On the contrary, that promotional activity is substantial. The Panel therefore does not find the way the Respondent uses the first disputed domain name qualifies under paragraph 4(c)(iii) of the Policy.
The Respondent makes different use of the second, third and fourth disputed domain names compared to the first disputed domain name. As indicated above, the second, third and fourth disputed domain name resolve directly to a webpage displaying the full text of the Respondent’s New York Complaint. There does not appear to be any other content on the website.
Apart from the absence of the figurative elements, the third disputed domain name is essentially identical to the Second Complainant’s trademark. The second and fourth disputed domain names are in effect the corporate names of the Complainants and in effect embody the whole of the verbal elements of the Complainants’ respective trademarks. There is therefore a very high risk that they will be perceived as affiliated with the Complainants.
“Panels find that even a general right to legitimate criticism does not necessarily extend to registering or using a domain name identical to a trademark (i.e., <trademark.tld> (including typos)); even where such a domain name is used in relation to genuine noncommercial free speech, panels tend to find that this creates an impermissible risk of user confusion through impersonation. In certain cases involving parties exclusively from the United States, some panels applying US First Amendment principles have found that even a domain name identical to a trademark used for a bona fide noncommercial criticism site may support a legitimate interest.”
In a careful consideration of the issues, the panel in MUFG Union Bank, N.A. v. William Bookout, WIPO Case No. D2014-1821 explained:
“US jurisprudence recognizes a qualified free speech right to display a trademark in connection with genuine criticism, even in the context of a domain name identical or confusingly similar to a trademark, where there is not a commercial motivation or indicia of bad faith, such as an attempt to create a likelihood of confusion on the associated website. See Utah Lighthouse Ministry v. Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, 527 F.3d 1045 (US Court of Appeals, 10th Cir., 2008); Lamparello v. Falwell, 420 F.3d 309 (US Court of Appeals, 4th Cir., 2005); TMI, Inc. v. Maxwell, 368 F.3d 433 (US Court of Appeals, 5th Cir., 2004); Lucas Nursery & Landscaping, Inc. v. Grosse, 359 F.3d 806 (US Court of Appeals, 6th Cir., 2004). A thoughtful discussion of the trend to apply this principle in UDRP cases involving US parties is found in Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association v. Paul McCauley, WIPO Case No. D2004-0014 (“Howard Jarvis”).”
That decision concerned one domain name identical to the complainant’s name and others confusingly similar to the complainant’s registered trademarks for “Union Bank” and “MUFG”. Noting that the respondent’s websites were not commercial and the content unlikely to be confused with a website operated by the complainant, the panel considered that a legitimate interest had been established notwithstanding the degree of resemblance of the domain names and trademarks.
As the Panel has already noted above, the Respondent can be seen now to be in competition with the Complainants, at least pending the resolution of his legal claims in the New York Complaint. That is a factor telling against the second, third and fourth disputed domain names being a fair use to air his grievances against the Complainants. The disputed domain names are plainly being used, however, to air the Respondent’s grievance and, so far as the Panel can ascertain, not otherwise.
From both the Response and the lengthy and detailed New York Complaint, it appears that the Respondent genuinely and reasonably believes he has a strong basis for complaint. While the Complainants have indicated they refute all the Respondent’s allegations fully, they have not advanced any positive rebuttal addressing, for example, why more than two years after the Shareholders Agreement was executed by the parties the various promises made to the Respondent such as the transfer of a 40 per cent shareholding in the First Complainant has not been implemented. Whether there are good reasons for that, or not, is not something the Panel is either in a position or required to assess. The point is, so far as the record in this case goes, the Respondent appears to have a reasonable basis for believing he has grounds for his grievance.
Thirdly, although the websites to which the disputed domain names resolve do not include disclaimers, it is highly unlikely anyone arriving at them would form the view that they are the official websites of, or in some way authorised by, the Complainants. It is clear on the face of the New York Complaint that it is a document making allegations by the Respondent against the Complainants.
Fourthly, the Respondent has registered and is using three disputed domain names in this fashion. Arguably, one name would be more than sufficient for one trademark. There are, however, two different trademarks. The fact that two are in effect the corporate names of the Complainant weighs against the use being fair. Against that, however, is that both disputed domain names were available for registration as late as October last year. Overall, the number of disputed domain names, three, is not oppressive.
Fifthly, there is no link from the Respondent’s websites to the Complainants’ websites. That is another factor weighing against fairness.
Sixthly, there is no evidence that people seeking to contact either Complainant have mistakenly emailed the Respondent.
Seventhly, as discussed above, there is a clear connection between the use of the Complainants’ trademarks, which are essentially their names, and the content of the websites. Unlike with the first disputed domain name, there are no links to competitors.
Weighing all these factors together and bearing in mind that the Respondent is located in the United States and already has court proceedings on foot there against the Complainants which are the subject matter of the content of the websites, the Panel accepts the Respondent’s claim that he is making a legitimate use of the second, third and fourth disputed domain names.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has failed to establish the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the second, third and fourth disputed domain names.
D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In view of the findings above in relation to the second, third and fourth disputed domain names, no good purpose would be served by considering the application of the third requirement under the Policy to those domain names as the Complaint must fail in respect of them in any event.
Under the third requirement of the Policy, the Complainant must establish that the first disputed domain name has been both registered and used in bad faith by the Respondent. These are conjunctive requirements; both must be satisfied for a successful complaint: see, e.g., Burn World-Wide, Ltd. d/b/a BGT Partners v. Banta Global Turnkey Ltd, WIPO Case No. D2010-0470.
Generally, a finding that a domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith requires an inference to be drawn that the respondent in question has registered and is using the disputed domain name to take advantage of its significance as a trademark owned by (usually) the complainant.
The way the Respondent is using the first disputed domain name as discussed above is use of that disputed domain name in bad faith. For an order transferring it, however, the Complainant must show it was also registered in bad faith.
It is clear that the Respondent knew of the First Complainant’s business when he registered the first disputed domain name. As has been noted above, however, the Respondent expressly claimed that he registered the first disputed domain name for the purpose of developing the First Complainant’s business.
The Complainants contend that they did not authorise the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain names and he did so to disrupt their business. In denying that they have authorised the Respondent to use their trademarks, the Complainants add a qualification; contending that there “is no relation whatsoever (except for the relation which will be highlighted in the next paragraphs) between the Complainants and the Respondent”.
So far as the Panel understands the reference to the “next paragraphs”, the Complainants appear to be referring to their discussion that the disputed domain names were registered and being used in bad faith in which they admit the Respondent has brought the New York Complaint against them. The Complainants say that they are strenuously defending that action and refute “all the allegations”.
Nowhere in the Complaint do the Complainants acknowledge or confront the history of their, and the Benedetti family’s, involvement with the Respondent. All the Panel has been provided is the ambiguous content of what is implied by the “next paragraphs” and the blanket denial of all the allegations in the New York Complaint.
On the other hand, at the time the Respondent registered the first disputed domain name, it appears from the record in this proceeding that he was seeking to advance the business of the First Complainant including seeking to transfer his former business’ contracts with the UN to the First Complainant. At that time, the Respondent had in prospect very substantial financial returns from the success of the First Complainant’s business under the arrangements apparently agreed in the Shareholders Agreement. Therefore, the Panel does not find his claim implausible or even unlikely.
The Complainants also invoke the Respondent’s use of a privacy service for the registration of all the disputed domain names as evidence of bad faith. Some decisions under the Policy have found that to be a factor contributing to a finding of bad faith. Many registrants of domain names, however, do register their domain names using privacy services without any improper motive.
The Panel does not consider the use of the privacy services sufficient to convert the registration of the first disputed domain name into a registration in bad faith. Apart from anything else, the first disputed domain name resolves to the website of Filangieri Capital Partners. The contact page directs inquiries to the Respondent by his personal name. The Complainants well-knew who that was and who stood behind it. It can hardly be described as an attempt to conceal the Respondent’s identity.
In these circumstances, the Panel finds that the Complainants have failed to show that the first disputed domain name was registered in bad faith.
For the foregoing reasons, the Complaint is denied.
Warwick A. Rothnie
Date: May 8, 2018
1 The change of name from IENCO S.r.l. to the current name is attested by the affidavit of Eleanora Benedetti, paragraph 11(g), which is Annex 19 to the Complaint.
2 For simplicity, the Panel will refer to Mr. Greco as the Respondent unless it is necessary to distinguish between his role and the role of the privacy service, Domains By Proxy LLC.
3 Annex 3 to the Response.
4 The Respondent describes EMWG Inc. as “his” company. The lease for the New York office taken out by IDRO US Inc. for the Respondent’s use, however, was executed on that company’s behalf by one of the members of the Benedetti family as “there was simply no one else who could act for IDRO USA Inc.”: see Annex 23 to the Complaint. According to the Complaint filed by the Respondent in a proceeding in the Supreme Court of New York (the “New York Complaint”) at paragraph 108, the Benedetti interests acquired the shares in IDRO USA Inc in November 2016. At paragraph 207 of the New York Complaint, however, the Benedetti interests are alleged to have acquired the outstanding assets of Euro Mec Water Group S.r.l. of Brescia at a bankruptcy auction on May 30, 2017.
5 Consulting Agreement dated May 8, 2015 included in Annex 19 to the Complaint.
6 New York Complaint, paragraph 165.