WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

BASF SE v. Domains By Proxy, LLC / Fabrice BEAUQUESNE

Case No. D2018-0596

1. The Parties

The Complainant is BASF SE of Ludwigshafen, Germany, represented by IP Twins S.A.S., France.

The Respondent is Domains By Proxy, LLC of Scottsdale, Arizona, United States of America (“USA” or “US”) / Fabrice BEAUQUESNE of Ecully, France.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <group-basf.com> (the “Domain Name”) 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 March 19, 2018, naming the Respondent as Domains By Proxy, LLC. The Center sent its verification request to the Registrar the same day. The Registrar replied on March 20 and 21, 2018, identifying the registrant as Fabrice BEAUQUESNE and providing the full contact details held on its WhoIs database in respect of the Domain Name. The Registrar also confirmed that the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “UDRP”) applies to the Domain Name, that the Domain Name expires on November 22, 2018 and will remain locked during this proceeding, that the language of the registration agreement is English, and that the Domain Name has been registered to the current registrant since at least March 20, 2018.

The Center forwarded the information provided by the Registrar identifying the registrant to the Complainant on March 21, 2018, and invited the Complainant to amend the Complaint. The Complainant submitted an amended Complaint the same day.

The Center verified that the amended Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the 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 paragraphs 2 and 4 of the Rules, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on March 23, 2018. In accordance with paragraph 5 of the Rules, the due date for Response was April 12, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on April 13, 2018.

The Center appointed Jonathan Turner as the sole panelist in this matter on April 27, 2018. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with paragraph 7 of the Rules. Having reviewed the file, the Panel is satisfied that the amended Complaint complied with applicable formal requirements, was duly notified to the Respondent and has been submitted to a properly constituted Panel in accordance with the UDRP, the Rules and the Supplemental Rules.

4. Factual Background

The Complainant is the largest chemical company in the world. It produces a wide range of chemicals, including solvents, resins, glues, gases and petrochemicals. It is the world’s third largest producer of crop chemicals and the largest producer of catalytic convertors. It has customers in over 200 countries and 112,000 employees.

The Complainant was founded in 1865 under the name Badische Aniline & Sodafabrik, which was subsequently shortened to BASF. The Complainant is the proprietor of registrations of the mark BASF, including international registrations nos. 638794 of May 3, 1995, and 909293 of October 31, 2006; European Union registration no. 98020 of April 1, 1996; and US registrations nos. 0809060 of May 31, 1966, and 3786543 of May 11, 2010.

The Complainant has also registered a number of domain names containing “basf” as the second level domain, including <basf.com>, <basf.org>, <basf.asia>, <basf.eu>, and <basf.in>.

The Domain Name was created on November 22, 2017. An order form in German was sent to a computer store bearing the Complainant’s logo and requesting delivery of a computer to self-storage with the contact name “Herr Ambroise Fabrice”. The billing address was given as BASF Services Europe GmbH with contact “Herr Fabrice BEAUQUESNE”. The name Fabrice BEAUQUESNE also appeared in the footer together with two email addresses containing the Domain Name, one of which was f.beauquesne@group-basf.com. The form was over-stamped with the words “BASF Services Europe GmbH / IT-Purchase Manager Berlin – Group BASF / Herr Fabrice BEAUQUESNE” followed by a telephone number, fax number and street address.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to its mark BASF which it incorporates in its entirety together with the generic word “group” and the hyphen symbol.

The Complainant submits that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. The Complainant observes that BASF is not a name that traders would choose without seeking to create an impression of association with the Complainant. The Complainant states that the Respondent is not authorized, licensed or permitted by the Complainant to use or register the Domain Name or the BASF mark. The Complainant notes that the Domain Name has been used on a fraudulent order form misrepresenting the Respondent as being an employee of the Complainant, and that this does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor legitimate noncommercial or fair use. The Complainant adds that the Respondent cannot conceivably claim that he is commonly known by the Domain Name, and that it is not possible to conceive of any plausible legitimate use of the Domain Name by the Respondent.

The Complainant alleges that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant points out that the Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant’s mark when he registered the Domain Name and that the Respondent’s use of the Domain Name in the order form mentioned above is further evidence of his familiarity with the mark. The Complainant emphasizes that the order form shows that the Domain Name was registered and is being used for fraudulent purposes that are disruptive to its business. The Complainant adds that the Respondent’s use of a privacy shield is another indication of bad faith.

The Complainant requests a decision that the Domain Name be transferred to it.

B. Respondent

As stated above, the Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove: (i) that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which it has rights; (ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and (iii) that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. It is convenient to consider each of these requirements in turn.

In accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, the Panel shall draw such inferences as it considers appropriate from the Respondent’s default in failing to file a response. This includes the acceptance of plausible evidence of the Complainant which has not been disputed.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel finds that the Complainant has rights in the mark BASF.

The Panel is satisfied that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to this mark, from which it differs only by the addition of the term “group”, a hyphen connecting this term to the mark, and the generic Top-Level Domain “.com”. These elements do not distinguish the Domain Name from the mark. Many Internet users would assume that the Domain Name refers to the Complainant.

The first requirement of the UDRP is satisfied.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Panel finds on the undisputed evidence that the Respondent has not used the Domain Name for any bona fide offering of goods or services, nor for any legitimate noncommercial or fair use. On the contrary, the Respondent has used the Domain Name to support an attempted fraud by misrepresenting the Respondent as being an employee of the Complainant. It is also evident that the Respondent is not commonly known by the Domain Name or any corresponding name.

None of the circumstances mentioned in paragraph 4(c) of the UDRP as demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in a domain name is present. Nor is there any other basis on which the Respondent could claim any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. The second requirement of the UDRP is satisfied.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Panel finds on the undisputed evidence that the Domain Name has been used to support an attempted fraud by misrepresenting the Respondent as being an employee of the Complainant. The Panel infers that it was registered for this purpose. This purpose is clearly one of bad faith, and accordingly the Panel finds that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith.

All three substantive requirements of the UDRP are satisfied and it is appropriate to direct that the Domain Name be transferred to the Complainant.

7. Decision

For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <group-basf.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Jonathan Turner
Sole Panelist
Date: May 11, 2018