WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Andrey Ternovskiy dba Chatroulette v. Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC / Gregory Pearson, Global Marketing Resources, Inc

Case No. D2018-2549

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Andrey Ternovskiy dba Chatroulette of Sliema, Malta, represented by CSC Digital Brand Services AB, Sweden.

The Respondent is Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC of Scottsdale, Arizona, United States of America (“United States”) / Gregory Pearson, Global Marketing Resources, Inc of Dunedin, Florida, United States.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <girlschatroulette.com> 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 November 7, 2018. On November 7, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 8, 2018, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on November 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 November 15, 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 November 16, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 6, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 7, 2018.

The Center appointed Christopher J. Pibus as the sole panelist in this matter on December 17, 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, Andrey Ternovsky, is a Moscow-based entrepreneur who created a website in 2009 to provide real time, web-cam based conversations with other Internet users from around the world. The Complainant combined the name “roulette” with the word “chat” to form the term “chatroulette”, which became his primary trademark.

The Complainant built the Chatroulette website on his home computer. Introducing the platform through a web forum in November 2009, he managed to find 20 people to try it out initially. The first 20 users doubled within a day and the number of users continued to grow exponentionally over a short period of time. By January, 2010, approximately 50,000 users accessed the site daily. By February, 2010, the Complainant’s website was attracting approximately 130,000 visitors per day, with over 3.9 million monthly visitors. Over the past 8 years, the Complainant’s video chat platform has achieved continuing success, always in association with the CHATROULETTE brand.

The Complainant registered the domain name <chatroulette.com> on November 16, 2009, and owns several trademark registrations, including the following:

- European Trademark Registration No. 008944076 for CHATROULETTE dated December 4, 2012 (filed March 10, 2010);
- European Trademark Registration No. 008946352 for CHATROULETTE.TO dated August 19, 2012 (filed March 11, 2010);
- German Trademark Registration No. 302010003706 for CHATROULETTE dated February 21, 2013 (filed March 10, 2010);
- United States Trademark Registration No. 4,445,843 for CHATROULETTE dated December 10, 2013 (filed January 10, 2011);
- Russian Trademark Registration No. 429957 for CHATROULETTE dated February 10, 2011.

The Respondent registered the disputed domain name on October 30, 2012. At the time the Complaint was filed the disputed domain name <girlschatroulette.com> reverted to a website which provides links to third party sites which feature chat rooms of similar nature to the Complainant’s website services.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant alleges that the disputed domain name wholly incorporates the Complainant’s registered trademark for CHATROULETTE, except for the addition of the dictionary term “girls”. Accordingly, the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark.

The Complainant contends that the Respondent is not known by the name “Chatroulette” or “Girlschatroulette”, and has not been authorized, licensed or permitted in any way by the Complainant to use a trademark which is confusingly similar to CHATROULETTE. The Respondent has not used the disputed domain name in association with a bona fide offering of goods and services. The disputed domain name has been used in association with a website that features links to third party websites that are in direct competition of the Complainant’s website. Further, the Respondent has masked his identity through the use of privacy protection services for many years.

The Complainant further submits that the Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith. The Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant and the Complainant’s trademark rights in the CHATROULETTE mark and the Complainant’s domain name <chatroulette.com> when it registered the disputed domain name. The Complainant’s reputation and popularity in the Complainant’s trademark CHATROULETTE and associated website and business grew exponentially after it was launched in November 2009, and as a result, the CHATROULETTE mark and website received significant attention and publicity. Further, the Respondent has not used the disputed domain name in association with a bona fide offering of goods and services, but has used the disputed domain name in association with a website featuring links to third party websites that are in direct competition with the Complainant’s website for purposes of monetary gain. The Respondent by registering and using this confusingly similar domain name has interfered with the Complainant’s business. The Complainant further contends that the Respondent did not respond to the cease and desist letters sent in August and September, 2018.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, in order to succeed, the Complainant must establish each of the following elements:

(i) The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;

(ii) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in respect of the disputed domain name; and

(iii) The disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel finds that the Complainant does have recognizable trademark rights in the trademark CHATROULETTE by virtue of his trademark registrations listed in paragraph 4 of this Decision.

The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark CHATROULETTE, as the disputed domain name replicates the Complainant’s registered trademark except for the addition of the dictionary term “girls”. The addition of a dictionary term to a distinctive mark does not diminish the confusing similarity in any way.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirement under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Useful commentary relating to the burden of proof for rights or legitimate interests can be found at the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 2.1:

“While the overall burden of proof in UDRP proceedings is on the complainant, panels have recognized that proving a respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in a domain name may result in the often impossible task of “proving a negative”, requiring information that is often primarily within the knowledge or control of the respondent. As such, where a complainant makes out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, the burden of production on this element shifts to the respondent to come forward with relevant evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If the respondent fails to come forward with such relevant evidence, the complainant is deemed to have satisfied the second element”.

Based on the evidence filed in this proceeding, the Panel finds that the Complainant has made out a prima facie case with respect to lack of rights and legitimate interests. The Complainant clearly owns rights in the registered mark CHATROULETTE as noted in paragraph 4 of this Decision. The Complainant has used his trademark and the domain name <chatroulette.com> for more than 8 years in association with his website which provides a video chat room for Internet users around the world. The evidence filed in this proceeding, which was not contested by the Respondent, supports the fact that the Complainant began his website chat room services in November 2009, and attracted a significant number of users within a very short period of time, all before the Respondent registered the disputed domain name. Proof of this growth is shown in the analytics evidence submitted in the Complaint. In these circumstances, it is very likely that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s trademark and website services, particularly because the Respondent chose to adopt a domain name that combines the dictionary term “girls” with the term “chatroulette”, which has no meaning or function except for its connection to the Complainant’s product.

The Respondent was not authorized or licensed to use the Complainant’s trademark, and the Respondent is not commonly known by the term “girlschatroulette”.

The Respondent is using the disputed domain name in association with a website that features links to third party websites, which are in direct competition with the Complainant’s services, and which supports the conclusion that the Respondent is not using the disputed domain in association with an offering of bona fide goods and/or services.

In this situation, the burden shifts to the Respondent to bring forward evidence of rights and legitimate interests. The Respondent did not respond to the Complaint.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant is deemed to have satisfied the requirements under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

As set out above, the Panel is prepared to find that the Respondent was likely aware of the Complainant’s trademark rights in the CHATROULETTE mark when he registered the disputed domain name. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name in association with a website that redirects Internet users to a website which features third party links to competing online chat websites for purposes of monetary gain. This conduct reflects a clear intention to interfere with the Complainant’s business in a manner which is abusive under the Policy. The Respondent has failed to provide any evidence to explain his conduct.

The Panel is prepared to accept the claims made by the Complainant, and finds that the Respondent registered and has used the disputed domain name in bad faith.

The Complainant has therefore satisfied the requirements under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

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 disputed domain name <girlschatroulette.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Christopher J. Pibus
Sole Panelist
Date: December 19, 2018