WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Equinor ASA v. CFO Fresh

Case No. D2019-1021

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Equinor ASA, Norway, represented by Valea AB, Sweden.

The Respondent is CFO Fresh, Nigeria.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <equinorstaffquarters.com> is registered with OwnRegistrar, Inc. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 3, 2019. On May 3, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On May 4, 2019, 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 10, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was May 30, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on May 31, 2019.

The Center appointed Taras Kyslyy as the sole panelist in this matter on June 6, 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 Complainant is a Norway-based international energy company with operations in about 30 countries around the world developing oil, gas, wind, and solar energy. The Complainant was founded in 1972 and changed its name from Statoil ASA to Equinor ASA as announced on March 15, 2018. The Complainant owns a number of EQUINOR trademarks including International trademark No. 1444675, registered on July 4, 2018, and European Union Trademark No. 017900772, registered on January 18, 2019.

The Complainant owns about 100 domain names containing the EQUINOR mark.

The disputed domain name was registered on April 6, 2019. The disputed domain name previously resolved to a website impersonating the Complaint’s website and currently resolves to an inactive website.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark. The disputed domain name incorporates the Complainant’s trademark. Adding generic terms “staff” and “quarters” to the disputed domain name does not preclude confusing similarity. The generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com” is not sufficient to prevent confusing similarity either. Considering the brand awareness of the trademark EQUINOR worldwide, Internet users would most probably assume a connection with the Complainant and its business when seeking information on a website at the disputed domain name.

The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. This is based on the Complainant’s prior use of its trademark and company name Equinor. The Respondent is not affiliated or related to the Complainant, or licensed or otherwise authorized to use the Complainant’s trademark. The disputed domain name is not used with any legitimate noncommercial or fair use intent. The Respondent is not known by the disputed domain name and has not acquired any trademark or service mark rights in that name or mark.

The disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s trademark when registering the disputed domain name. The Respondent’s registration and use of the disputed domain name incorporating the Complainant’s trademark indicates a deliberate attempt to capture Internet users into believing that the website at the disputed domain name is in some way associated with, authorized by or connected to the Complainant, especially the Complainant’s procurement process or human resources department. The disputed domain name resolved to a website, which copied the look and feel of the Complainant’s corporate website, as it contained the trademarked EQUINOR logo, copyright protected pictures owned by the Complainant, and text copied from the Complainant’s website at “www.equinor.com”. It can be assumed that the Respondent’s intention to register the disputed domain name has been to use it for a financial gain, for example by making fraudulent offers to email recipients (MX-records are set up for the disputed domain name) or Internet users or in order to illegally obtain data from Internet users.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant has established rights in the trademark EQUINOR. The gTLD “.com” in the disputed domain name is viewed as a standard registration requirement and may be disregarded for the purposes of the confusing similarity test (see, e.g., Rexel Developpements SAS v. Zhan Yequn, WIPO Case No. D2017-0275).

According to section 1.7 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (the “WIPO Overview 3.0”) in cases where a domain name incorporates the entirety of a trademark the domain name will normally be considered identical or confusingly similar to that mark for purposes of UDRP standing.

According to section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 where the relevant trademark is recognizable within the disputed domain name, the addition of other terms (whether descriptive, geographical, pejorative, meaningless, or otherwise) would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity under the first element.

In the present case the disputed domain name entirely incorporates the Complainant’s trademark. The adddition of the dictionary terms “staff” and “quarters”, as well as the gTLD “.com” does not preclude a finding of confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s trademark.

Considering the above, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark. Therefore, the Complainant has established its case under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Complainant has established prima facie that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

Furthermore, the Respondent provided no evidence that it holds rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

The Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name, which could demonstrate its right or legitimate interest (see, e.g., World Natural Bodybuilding Federation, Inc. v. Daniel Jones TheDotCafe, WIPO Case No. D2008-0642).

Based on the evidence, the Respondent is not affiliated or related to the Complainant. The Complainant did not license or otherwise agree for use of its registered trademarks by the Respondent. Given the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name, no bona fide or legitimate use of the disputed domain name could be reasonably claimed (see, e.g., Sportswear Company S.P.A. v. Tang Hong, WIPO Case No. D2014-1875).

Considering the above and also based on the Panel’s findings below on the use in bad faith, the Panel finds the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Therefore, the Complainant has established its case under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

At the time of the registration of the disputed domain name the Respondent knew, or at least should have known about the existence of the Complainant’s priory registered trademark, which confirms the registration in bad faith (see, e.g., The Gap, Inc. v. Deng Youqian, WIPO Case No. D2009-0113). See also, section 3.2.2 of WIPO Overview 3.0.

According to paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith: 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. In this case, the disputed domain name was resolving to a website featuring the Complainant’s trademark and falsely pretended to be official Complainant’s website to intentionally attract Internet users by creating likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the source of the website and its services. The Panel finds the above confirms the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith.

Although at the time of this decision the disputed domain name resolves to inactive website, its previous bad faith use and lack of explanation of possible good faith use from the Respondent makes any good faith use of the disputed domain name implausible. Thus, the current passive holding of the disputed domain name does not prevent a finding of bad faith (see, e.g., Abbott Diabetes Care Inc. v. Privacy Protection, Hosting Ukraaine LLC / Виталий Броцман (Vitalii Brocman), WIPO Case No. DPW2017-0003).

Considering the above the Panel finds the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. Therefore, the Complainant has established its case 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 <equinorstaffquarters.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Taras Kyslyy
Sole Panelist
Date: June 20, 2019