WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center


Moelis & Company Group LP v. Sandra Stein

Case No. D2018-1261

1. The Parties

Complainant is Moelis & Company Group LP of New York, New York, United States of America (“United States”), represented by SafeNames Ltd., United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Respondent is Sandra Stein of Odessa, Missouri, United States.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <moeils.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 June 6, 2018. On June 6, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On June 7, 2018, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on June 12, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was July 2, 2018. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on July 3, 2018.

The Center appointed Robert A. Badgley as the sole panelist in this matter on July 30, 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 is an investment bank founded in 2007 by Ken Moelis, who by that time had gained considerable renown in the international financial and investment sector. Complainant holds several trademark registrations for the mark MOELIS & COMPANY, including registration number 00749911, registered on August 22, 2009 in the European Union, and registration numbers 490462 and 490463, registered on February 23, 2016 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “MOELIS mark”). Complainant also owns several domain names containing the term “moelis”, including <moelis.com>.

The Domain Name was registered on May 3, 2018. The Domain Name has never resolved to an active website. The Domain Name has, however, been used to set up an email address. Complainant has submitted into the record a number of emails sent from this email address to employees of Complainant’s firm. The emails are alleged to have been sent in pursuit of a phishing scam, whereby the sender, holding herself out as Chairman of Complainant asks one of Complainant’s employees for sensitive information or asks the employee to wire money to a bank account (alleged to be controlled by Respondent).

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

Complainant asserts that it has established the three elements required under the Policy for a transfer of the Domain Name.

B. Respondent

Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists the three elements which Complainant must satisfy with respect to the Domain Name:

(i) the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and

(ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and

(iii) the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel concludes that Complainant has rights in the MOELIS mark through registration and use. The Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the MOELIS mark. The Domain Name merely inverts the letters “l” and “i”, which look very similar one to the other.

Complainant has established Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Pursuant to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, Respondent may establish its rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name, among other circumstances, by showing any of the following elements:

(i) before any notice to you [Respondent] of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the Domain Name or a name corresponding to the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or

(ii) you [Respondent] (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the Domain Name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or

(iii) you [Respondent] are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.

The Panel concludes that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. Respondent has not come forward to articulate or defend her motives in registering the Domain Name. Nor, based on the record here, does it appear that Respondent could show any bona fides. She appears to be engaged in a fraudulent phishing exercise.

Complainant has established Policy paragraph 4(a)(ii).

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides that the following circumstances, “in particular but without limitation”, are evidence of the registration and use of the Domain Name in “bad faith”:

(i) circumstances indicating that Respondent has registered or has acquired the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the Domain Name registration to Complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of its documented out of pocket costs directly related to the Domain Name; or

(ii) that Respondent has registered the Domain Name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) that Respondent has registered the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) that by using the Domain Name, Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to Respondent’s website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of Respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on Respondent’s website or location.

The Panel concludes that Respondent has registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith. Respondent clearly had Complainant’s MOELIS mark in mind when registering the Domain Name. By generating a false email address using the name of Complainant’s founder and then trying in the body of the emails to pass herself off as Complainant’s founder, Respondent obviously was targeting Complainant’s mark here. The phishing scam undertaken by Respondent is manifestly a use of the Domain Name in bad faith.

Complainant has established Policy paragraph 4(a)(iii).

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 <moeils.com> be transferred to Complainant.

Robert A. Badgley
Sole Panelist
Date: July 30, 2018