WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Facebook Inc. v. WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc. / Toster Serwerowy
Case No. D2019-1668
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Facebook Inc., United States of America (the “United States”), represented by Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP, France.
The Respondent is WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc., Panama / Toster Serwerowy, Poland.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <facẹbooḵ.com> (xn--facboo-gq7bu7b.com) (the “Domain Name”) is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 16, 2019. On July 16, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On July 16, 2019, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Domain Name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on July 17, 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 July 22, 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 July 24, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was August 13, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on August 16, 2019.
The Center appointed Eva Fiammenghi as the sole panelist in this matter on August 20, 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, Facebook, Inc., is the world’s leading provider of online social networking services. Founded in 2004, today its website “www.facebook.com” is currently ranked as the 3rd most visited website in the world according to information company Alexa.
The Complainant is the owner, among others, of the following trademarks:
- United States trademark No. 3041791, FACEBOOK, registered on January 10, 2006 in the classes 35 and 38;
- United States trademark No. 3122052, FACEBOOK, registered on July 25, 2006 in the classes 35 and 38;
- European Union Trade Mark No. 004535381, FACEBOOK, registered on June 22, 2011 in the classes 35 and 38.
The Complainant is also the owner, among others, of the following domain names:
The Domain Name <facẹbooḵ.com> (xn--facboo-gq7bu7b.com) was registered on May 12, 2019. The Domain Name has never been actively used by the Respondent. Currently, the Domain Name resolves to a Registrar’s parked page, which indicates that the WhoIs veriﬁcation is pending.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant argues that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to its trademark FACEBOOK.
The Domain Name has been registered using Punycode and can therefore be displayed with non-ASCII characters. The Domain Name <xn--facboo-gq7bu7b.com> can be displayed as “facẹbooḵ.com” with “ẹ” and “ḵ” visually similar to “e” and “k”.
The Complaint asserts that the Domain Name is currently pointing to a page parked by the registrar, which indicates that the Domain Name has been suspended due to pending WhoIs verification.
The Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant and there is no evidence to suggest that the Respondent has registered the Domain Name to advance legitimate interests.
The Complainant has never licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its trademark or to register any domain name including its trademark.
The Complainant requests that the Domain Name be transferred to it.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, in order to succeed in this proceeding and obtain the transfer of the Domain Name, the Complainant must prove that each of the three following elements is satisfied:
- The Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights (see below, section 6.B);
- The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name (see below, section 6.C.); and
- The Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith (see below, section 6.D).
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy clearly states that the burden of proving that all these elements are present lies with the Complainant.
Pursuant to paragraph 15(a) of the Rules, the Panel shall decide the Complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable. Moreover, in accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, if a party, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, does not comply with any provision of, or requirement under, the Rules or any request from the Panel, the Panel shall draw such inferences there from, as it considers appropriate.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has shown its trademark rights with the registration of its FACEBOOK trademark.
With regard to the use of Punycode to create confusing similarity between a domain name and a well-known trademark, prior panels deciding under the Policy have held that “the use of Punycode to create a domain name indistinguishable from a well-known trademark manifestly does not prevent a finding of identity or confusing similarity between the two”. See Société Air France v. WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc. / Irfan Khan, Kamran Khan, WIPO Case No. D2018-0393.
The Complainant submits that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s FACEBOOK trademark.
According to the Complainant, the Domain Name differs from the Complainant’s trademark only by the replacement of letters “e” and “k” with the non-ASCII characters “ẹ” and “ḵ”.
The use of the non-ASCII characters “ẹ” and “ḵ” in place of the ASCII letters “e” and “k” does not dispel the confusing similarity of the Domain Name to the Complainant’s mark, and in the attendant circumstances is strongly evocative of typosquatting.
The Panel finds that the Domain Name <facẹbooḵ.com> (xn--facboo-gq7bu7b.com) is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s FACEBOOK trademark, in which the Complainant has established rights through registration and long and substantially exclusive use.
In view of the above, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks, in which the Complainant has demonstrated, to the satisfaction of the Panel, that it has rights and has made commercial use of the trademarks for several years.
The first element of the Policy has, therefore, been met.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel finds that with regard to whether the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name (paragraph 4(c) of the Policy), the Complainant has made an adequate prima facie showing that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests.
By integrating the Complainant’s well-known FACEBOOK trademark in its entirety, the Domain Name carries a high risk of implied affiliation with the Complainant. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 2.5 and Facebook Inc. v. Protection of Private Person, REG.RU Protection Service / Nikita Sakhnenko, WIPO Case No. D2019-0870 (panel found there to be no plausible explanation for the respondent’s choice of the disputed domain name other than the respondent’s intent to profit off the fame of the Complainant’s well-known FACEBOOK trademark). Moreover, the Panel finds that the Domain Name carries a high risk of implied affiliation between the Domain Name and the Complainant.
The Complainant also declares that the Respondent has not been authorized or licensed to use the Domain Name.
The Respondent did not come forward with any evidence that it has any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
The Panel concludes that the Respondent lacks any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.
The Panel finds the second element of the Policy has, therefore, been met.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Regarding the bad faith requirement, the Complainant asserts that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant reiterates that the FACEBOOK trademark has a strong reputation and is widely known throughout the world. The Complainant submits that the Respondent beyond doubt was aware of the Complainant’s well-known FACEBOOK trademark when registering the Domain Name, and that the Respondent’s aim was to profit from and exploit the reputation and well-known character of the Complainant’s mark by means of a fraudulent phishing campaign.
Moreover, the Complainant has shown that the Domain Name is currently pointing to a webpage indicating its suspension due to pending WhoIs verification and appears to have been passively held by the Respondent since its creation.
The Respondent has never actively used the Domain Name.
The Panel finds that the passive holding of the Domain Name coupled with the fame of the Complainant’s trademark evidences bad faith. “It has long been generally held in UDRP decisions that the passive holding of a domain name that incorporates a well-known trademark, without obvious use for an Internet purpose, does not necessarily circumvent a finding that the domain name is in use within the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy (Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003).”
For all the foregoing reasons, the Panel concludes that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. Accordingly, the third condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been fulfilled.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <facẹbooḵ.com> (xn--facboo-gq7bu7b.com) be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: September 3, 2019