WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Virgin Enterprises Limited v. Michelle Grand
Case No. D2018-1119
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Virgin Enterprises Limited of London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“United Kingdom”), represented by Stobbs IP Limited, United Kingdom.
The Respondent is Michelle Grand of Paris, France.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <virginstartupfund.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 May 18, 2018. On May 18, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 19, 2018, 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 May 25, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was June 14, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 15, 2018.
The Center appointed Anne-Virginie La Spada as the sole panelist in this matter on June 21, 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 Complainant is a company based in London, United Kingdom. The Complainant is the brand owner for the Virgin Group of Companies.
The Complainant is the holder of many trademark registrations for the mark VIRGIN throughout the world. For instance, the Complainant is the holder of the European Union (“EU”) Trade Mark registration VIRGIN No. 004262093 registered on March 17, 2006 in classes 35, 36, 37 and 44, and of the EU Trade Mark registration VIRGIN No. 003252335, registered on November 11, 2004, in class 36.
According to the Complainant, the Virgin Group comprises over 60 Virgin businesses worldwide, including Europe, the United States of America, Australia and Asia. The Virgin Group activities focus on travel and leisure, telecoms and media, music and entertainment, financial services and health, as well as wellness.
Virgin Startup is a not-for-profit organization that helps entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom with the funding, resources and mentoring to set up their own business. Virgin StartUp helps entrepreneurs to apply for business loans. Virgin StartUp is part of the Virgin Group and was established in 2012.
The official Virgin StartUp website is “www.virginstartup.org”.
The Respondent is an individual with an address in France pursuant to the WhoIs database search submitted by the Complainant and as confirmed by the Registrar.
The disputed domain name <virginstartupfund.com> was registered on April 23, 2018.
In May 2018, members of the public informed the Complainant about fraudulent activities in relation with the disputed domain name.
Victims were approached online by a person pretending to be the actual Chairman of Virgin StartUp or persons pretending to be part of the legal team of Virgin StartUp. The victims then received emails from the email addresses “[…]@virginstartupfund.com” and/or “[…]@virginstartupfund.com”. According to these emails, the victims were asked to provide various information and/or to sign documents regarding loans.
The disputed domain name <virginstartupfund.com> does not currently resolve to an active website. However, it previously resolved to a page that was an exact copy of the “contact us” page on the official Virgin StartUp website at “www.virginstartup.org”.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant’s submissions can be summarized as follows:
The disputed domain name <virginstartupfund.com> is confusingly similar to the trademark VIRGIN.
The VIRGIN trademark has a significant reputation throughout the world.
The Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
The Respondent used the disputed domain name <virginstartupfund.com> to send fraudulent emails to various persons, pretending to be the Chairman of Virgin StartUp or persons representing the Virgin StartUp legal team.
The above circumstances show that the disputed domain name has been registered and 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, a complainant must assert and prove each of the following:
(i) the domain name registered by the respondent 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 domain name; and
(iii) the domain name registered by the respondent has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant owns various trademark registrations for VIRGIN.
The disputed domain name <virginstartupfund.com> reproduces the Complainant’s trademark in its entirety and combines this trademark with the descriptive terms “startup” and “fund”.
The trademark VIRGIN is the most distinctive element in the disputed domain name. The mere addition of descriptive terms such as “startup” and “fund” does not change the overall impression produced by the disputed domain name. These terms refer furthermore to financial services of class 36, a class in which the Complainant’s mark is registered.
The disputed domain name is therefore confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights according to paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy (see Banque Pictet & Cie SA v. Brian Dyson and David Kalan, WIPO Case No. D2016-1114; Lime Wire LLC v. David Da Silva / Contactprivacy.com, WIPO Case No. D2007-1168).
The Complainant has thus satisfied the condition set forth in paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Based on the information submitted by the Complainant, the Respondent is not a licensee of the Complainant, nor has the Complainant granted to the Respondent an authorization to use the disputed domain name. Moreover, there is no indication that the disputed domain name corresponds to the Respondent’s name.
The Respondent did not file a response to the Complaint. The Panel may draw from the lack of a Response the inferences that it considers appropriate, according to the Rules, paragraph 14(b). The Panel finds that the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel finds that the Respondent’s silence corroborates the Complainant’s prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Accordingly, the Panel rules that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and that the Complainant has satisfied the condition set out in paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Given the reputation of the VIRGIN trademark, and the existence of an entity named Virgin StartUp active in the funding of businesses, the Panel finds it likely that the Respondent knew of the Complainant’s trademark and of Virgin StartUp’s activities when it registered the disputed domain name.
This is even more likely since the Respondent sent fraudulent emails pretending to be the Chairman of VirginStartup and/or pretending to be part of the Virgin StartUp legal team.
In the present case, the Respondent used the disputed domain name in connection with a webpage that was an exact copy of a page of the Virgin StartUp’s official website, thus creating a likelihood of confusion as to the source of such webpage.
Furthermore, the Respondent used email addresses corresponding to the disputed domain name in an attempt to mislead internet users into believing that the Respondent was an authorized representative of the Complainant’s organization Virgin StartUp, and to induce them to provide information and to sign documents, presumably to provide the Respondent a fraudulent gain.
UDRP panels have previously found that such fraudulent conduct constitutes bad faith (see SAP SE v. Name Redacted / Domains By Proxy, LLC, WIPO Case No. D2016-0410; Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. v. Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc. / KEEP MOUTH,WIPOCase No. D2016-0413).
According to the above and with respect to the Respondent’s fraudulent behavior, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith, and that the Complainant has satisfied the condition set out in 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 <virginstartupfund.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Anne-Virginie La Spada
Date: July 5, 2018