WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
WeWork Companies Inc. v. Christian Alvarez
Case No. D2019-1417
1. The Parties
The Complainant is WeWork Companies Inc., United States of America (“Complainant”), represented by Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, PC, United States of America.
The Respondent is Christian Alvarez (“Respondent”), United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <weworklab.net> 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 21, 2019. On June 21, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On June 24, 2019, 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 27, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was July 17, 2019. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on July 30, 2019.
The Center appointed M. Scott Donahey as the sole panelist in this matter on July 30, 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
Complainant, a privately held company, was founded in 2009 as a lessor of and renter of shared office space on a monthly or annual basis. Office locations include office amenities and services. By 2014 Complainant was recognized as the the fastest growing lessee of new office space in New York. Currently Complainant is one of the biggest corporate landlords in London, Washington, DC, and other major cities around the world. Complaint, Annex E. As of December 2018, Complainant had over 400,000 members across the globe. Complaint, Annex G. As of May, 2019, Complainant had over 600 co-working locations in more than 100 cities. Complaint, Annex F.
Complainant also has a number of WeWork Labs locations, which house startup companies. Complainant currently has more than 50 WeWork Labs locations with plans for more than 100 more locations by the end of 2019. Complaint, Annex J.
Complainant and its success has garnered attention from such media as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Bloomberg Business, Inc., and Business Insider. Complaint, Annexes D, E, K, and L. Complainant also has a substantial presence on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. See, e.g., Annex M.
Complainant registered the domain name <wework.com> on October 3, 2010. Complaint, Annex O. Complainant has also registered the trademark WEWORK trademark in various jurisdictions around the world (Complaint, Annex R), including with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) on August 23, 2011. Complaint, Annex Q.
Complainant has also registered the WEWORK LABS trademark in several jurisdictions including in the United States of America. Complaint, Annex S.
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on April 25, 2018. Complaint, Annex A. The disputed domain name is currently being offered for sale for US D2,500 Complaint, Annex U. The disputed domain name is not associated with an active web site other than the parked web site provided by the registrar. Complaint, Annex V.
On May 23, 2018, Complainant sent Respondent an email objecting to the registration and use of the disputed domain name. Respondent replied by indicating that he intended to use the disputed domain name in connection with a non-competitive company in the shared workspace/co-working area, but that Respondent was open to discussions with Complainant. Complaint, Annexes W and X. Complainant followed up with two letters from Complainant’s counsel objecting to the registration and use of the disputed domain name. Complaint, Annexes Y and Z. In response, Respondent, while maintaining that Respondent’s use of the domain name was legitimate, offered to sell “the site” for a fair price. Complaint, Annex AA.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s WEWORK and WEWORK LABS trademarks, that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name in that Complainant has never authorized Respondent to use its trademarks for any purpose, including as a domain name and that any use of the disputed domain name would be a violation of Complainant’s rights, and that Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
“A Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.”
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that the complainant must prove each of the following:
(i) that the domain name registered by the respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
(ii) that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name consists of the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.net”and Complainant’s trademark WEWORK with the addition of the English word “lab,” a shortened version of the English word “laboratory.” The disputed domain name also consists of the gTLD “.net”and Complainant’s trademark WEWORK LABS, with the subtraction of the final “s” which converts the English word “lab” to its plural equivalent. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to each of Complainant’s trademarks.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
While the overall burden of proof in UDRP proceedings is on the complainant, UDRP 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. WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 2.1.
In the present case, as set out above Complainant alleges that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name and Respondent has failed to assert any such rights. Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Respondent registered a domain name that is confusingly similar to two trademarks previously issued to Complainant. Respondent has made no use of the disputed domain name since its registration. The only use of the disputed domain name was made by the registrar, which has parked the domain name on a web site of the registrant’s creation. Despite Respondent’s continuing insistence that Respondent intends to create a business in which business Respondent asserts the domain name could be used legitimately, Respondent has taken no apparent legitimate steps to make any commercial use of the disputed domain name. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
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, <weworklab.net>, be transferred to Complainant.
M. Scott Donahey
Date: August 2, 2019