WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
SoftBank Group Corp. v. Dave Mark
Case No. D2019-0481
1. The Parties
The Complainant is SoftBank Group Corp. of Tokyo, Japan, represented by Mori Hamada & Matsumoto Law Firm, Japan.
The Respondent is Dave Mark of Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <softbank.global> is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 1, 2019. On March 1, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On March 1, 2019, 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 March 6, 2019 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 8, 2019.
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 11, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 31, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on April 1, 2019.
The Center appointed Debrett G. Lyons as the sole panelist in this matter on April 10, 2019. 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 factual findings pertinent to the decision in this case are that:
(1) the Complainant was founded in Japan in 1981 and provides financial and other services by reference to the trade mark SOFTBANK (the “Trade Mark”);
(2) in 2018 the Complainant had approximately 75,000 employees and a turnover in excess of JPY 9 trillion;
(3) the Trade Mark is the subject, inter alia, of United States Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”) Reg. No. 4,718,589, filed on September 26, 2013 and registered on April 14, 2015;
(4) the disputed domain name was registered on February 26, 2019;
(5) the disputed domain name has not been used in connection with a website but has been used to generate an email from an address which might be presumed to be that of the Chairman and CEO of the Complainant; and
(6) there is no commercial or other relationship between the Parties and the Complainant has not authorized the Respondent to use the Trade Mark or to register any domain name incorporating the Trade Mark.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant asserts trade mark rights in SOFTBANK. It holds a national registration for the Trade Mark and submits that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Trade Mark.
The Complainant alleges that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name because it has no trade mark rights; is not known by the disputed domain name; and the disputed domain name has not been used other than for a nefarious purpose.
The Complainant alleges that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in bad faith having targeted the Complainant’s business.
The Complainant accordingly requests the Panel to order transfer of the disputed domain name.
The Respondent did not submit a Response.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
It is the responsibility of the Panel to consider whether the requirements of the Policy have been met, regardless of the fact that the Respondent failed to submit a response. Having considered the Complaint and the available evidence, the Panel finds the following:
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy requires a two-fold enquiry – a threshold investigation into whether a complainant has rights in a trade mark, followed by an assessment of whether the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trade mark.
Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy does not distinguish between registered and unregistered trade mark rights. It is accepted that a trade mark registered with a national authority is evidence of trade mark rights for the purposes of the Policy.1 The Complainant provides evidence of its USPTO registration of the Trade Mark and so the Panel finds that the Complainant has trade mark rights.
The disputed domain name takes the Trade Mark and merely adds the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.global”. The gTLD can be disregarded for the purposes of comparing the disputed domain name with the Trade Mark.2 The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is identical to the Trade Mark and so finds that the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has the burden to establish that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Nevertheless, it is well settled that the Complainant need only make out a prima facie case, after which the onus shifts to the Respondent to rebut such prima facie case by providing evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.3
Notwithstanding the lack of a response to the Complaint, paragraph 4(c) of the Policy states that any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be proved based on its evaluation of all evidence presented, shall demonstrate rights or legitimate interests to a domain name for purposes of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy:
“(i) before any notice to you 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 (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 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 publicly available WhoIs data lists the disputed domain name registrant as “Dave Mark”, which does not suggest that the Respondent might be commonly known by the disputed domain name. The Panel finds no other evidence that the Respondent might be commonly known by the disputed domain name.
Further, the Complainant states that there is no association between the parties and there is nothing to contradict that claim. There is no evidence that the Respondent has any trade mark rights.
The disputed domain name does not resolve to an active website but the Complainant provides evidence that on the day on which the disputed domain name was created, the disputed domain name was used to perpetrate a fraud whereby an unsuspecting email recipient, being the CEO of an investee company, might have been lured into transferring funds believing to have done so at the Complainant’s request.
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, and that the Respondent in failing to reply to the Complainant’s contentions has not rebutted such prima facie case.
The Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name and so the Complainant has satisfied the second element of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy sets out circumstances which shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith. They are:
“(i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) you have 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 you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your website or location or of a product or service on your website or location”.
The Panel finds that the Respondent’s conduct falls squarely within paragraph 4(b)(iv) above. The Panel has already found the disputed domain name to be identical to the Trade Mark. Confusion is inevitable and in this case is compounded by the fraudulent email address which poses as that of the CEO of the Complainant. The Respondent clearly targeted the Complainant when registering the disputed domain name and the use of the disputed domain name was for commercial gain. In terms of the Policy the Panel finds that the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, an Internet user to an online location by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Trade Mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of that location.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the third and final element 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 <softbank.global> be transferred to the Complainant.
Debrett G. Lyons
Date: April 22, 2019