WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Meirc Training & Consulting v. Perfect Privacy, LLC / hadi aljaffan, merc, Domain Protection Services, Inc. / Hadi Aljaffan, MERC GmbH

Case No. D2019-1131

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Meirc Training & Consulting, United Arab Emirates, represented by Saba & Co. IP, United Arab Emirates.

The Respondent is Perfect Privacy, LLC, United States of America / hadi aljaffan, merc, Lebanon, Domain Protection Services, Inc., United States of America / Hadi Aljaffan, MERC GmbH, Lebanon.

2. The Domain Names and Registrars

The disputed domain name <merc.training> is registered with Name.com, Inc. (Name.com LLC) (“Name.com”).

The disputed domain name <merctraining.net> is registered with Network Solutions, LLC (the “Network Solutions”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 16, 2019. On May 17, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrars a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On May 17 and 18, 2019, the Registrars transmitted by email to the Center their verification responses disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain names which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on May 22, 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 May 29, 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 June 4, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was June 24, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 25, 2019.

The Center appointed Nayiri Boghossian as the sole panelist in this matter on July 1, 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 training firm operating in the Middle East. The Complainant owns a number of registrations for the trademark MEIRC in Lebanon, UAE, Jordan, Oman, Kuwait, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Some of these trademarks are registered since 2004.

The Respondent registered the disputed domain name <merctraining.net> on January 1, 2019. The Respondent registered the disputed domain name <merc.training > on December 23, 2018. The disputed domain name <merc.training > redirects to the disputed domain name <merctraining.net>, which resolves to a website in Arabic apparently related to training services.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain names are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights. The Complainant argues that it is the oldest and most trusted training center in the Middle East. It has been in operation since 1958 and currently has four offices. The Complainant’s name (MEIRC) stands for Mastery, Excellence, Innovation, Reliability and Client-Centricity. The Complainant provides training in many cities around the world and has worldwide renowned clients. The Complainant owns a number of registrations for the trademark MEIRC. The disputed domain name <merctraining.net> incorporates the term “merc”, which is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark MEIRC as only one letter is missing. The generic term “training” does not eliminate confusion especially that it describes the activities of the Complainant. The disputed domain name <merc.training> is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark as it incorporates the term “merc”, which is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark. The generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “training” describes the services of the Complainant and does not distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainant’s trademark. Further, the Complainant hasn’t authorized the use of its trademark to the Respondent. <merc.training> is being redirected to <merctraining.net>. The Complainant contends that the website of the Respondent creates the impression that it belongs to the Complainant as it provides the same service and uses a device mark that is confusingly similar.

The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names. There is no evidence of circumstances of the types specified in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, or of any other circumstances, giving rise to rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names.

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain names were registered and are being used in bad faith. The mere registration of a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to a famous trademark creates a presumption of bad faith. The Respondent is trying to benefit from the fame of the Complainant in the training field. The Respondent knew of the Complainant’s trademark and its notoriety. Further, providing false contact information underlying a privacy or proxy service is an indication of bad faith. The Respondent’s website offers training, which shows that the Complainant is trying to gain commercial benefit through attracting Internet traffic. Additionally, the email addresses of the Respondent include the trademark “MEIRC”, which shows the intention to confuse and mislead the public. Lastly, the Respondent did not respond to the notice issued by the Complainant.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant holds many trademark registrations for the trademark MEIRC. The Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has established its ownership of the trademark MEIRC.

The disputed domain name <merctraining.net> comprises the term “merc”, which is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark as the difference is only one letter. This is an act of typo-squatting. Adding the term “training” only affirms the connection with the Complainant, as it represents the services provided by the Complainant (see the analysis under section 6.C), and does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity. The gTLD “.net” is typically ignored when assessing confusing similarity as held by prior UDRP panels.

The disputed domain name <merc.training> comprises the term “merc”, which is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark as the difference is only one letter. This is an act of typo-squatting. The gTLD “.training” reinforces the connection with the Complainant, as it represents the services provided by the Complainant (see the analysis under section 6.C), and for the purposes of the first element the gTLD is typically ignored.

Consequently, the Panel finds that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to the trademark of the Complainant and that the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Panel finds that the Complainant has made a prima facie showing that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names, particularly by asserting that the Complainant never authorized the Respondent to use its trademark as part of the disputed domain names.

The Respondent has not provided evidence of circumstances of the types specified in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, or of any other circumstances, giving rise to rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names. Consequently, the Panel finds that the Complainant has met the requirement under the Policy of showing that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names. Accordingly, the Complainants have satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Respondent clearly knew of the Complainant, its trademarks and activity. The Respondent’s knowledge can be evidenced by the fact that the disputed domain names include the word “training”, which is the exact activity of the Complainant. Further, training is also the activity provided by the Respondent as it appears from the website to which the disputed domain name <merctraining.net> resolves. Also, the Respondent uses on its website a device mark that is almost identical to that of the Complainant. All of the above is an indication of bad faith registration.

Another indication of bad faith, in these circumstances, is the use of privacy service.

The provision of training services through the Respondent’s website indicates bad faith use. Further, the use of the Respondent of the Complainant’s trademark in its email addresses is a further evidence of bad faith use. It is clear that the Respondent is trying to confuse customers by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant, its trademark, and its services. Further, the Respondent uses on its website a device mark that is almost identical to that of the Complainant, in order to further reinforce confusion. Lastly, the Respondent did not provide a response to the cease and desist letter sent by the Complainant.

Therefore, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain names were registered and are being used in bad faith. Such conduct falls squarely within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy, and accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied 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 names, <merc.training> and <merctraining.net>, be transferred to the Complainant.

Nayiri Boghossian
Sole Panelist
Date: July 4, 2019