WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Government Employees Insurance Company v. Domain Administrator of WDAPL
Case No. D2019-1830
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Government Employees Insurance Company, United States of America (“United States”), represented by Burns & Levinson LLP, United States.
The Respondent is Domain Administrator of WDAPL, Netherlands.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <geivo.com> is registered with Above.com, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 31, 2019. On July 31, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On August 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 August 1, 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 August 15, 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 August 19, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was September 8, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on September 9, 2019.
The Center appointed Marilena Comanescu as the sole panelist in this matter on September 18, 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.
At Complainant’s request, the proceeding was suspended between August 7, 2019 until August 15, 2019 in order to try to amicably settle the dispute; however, no positive result was reached.
The language of the proceeding is English.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a United States based insurance company, providing various types of insurance services since early 1936 and currently employing more than 40,000 people.
The Complainant owns several trademark registrations for GEICO, such as the United States Trademark No. 763274 filed on December 6, 1962 and registered on January 14, 1964 for services in class 36.
The Complainant’s principal website is <geico.com>.
The disputed domain name <geivo.com> was registered on July 28, 2005 and, according to the evidence provided in the Complaint, it was used to redirect Internet users to third parties website, including to pay-per-click pages providing various links related to, inter alia, services competing to those offered by the Complainant.
The WhoIs page for the disputed domain name indicates that it is listed for sale for the amount of “at least 500 US dollars”.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its famous trademark GEICO being an obvious and common typo, the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and the Respondent 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
In view of the Respondent’s default, the discussion and findings will be based upon the contentions in the Complaint and any reasonable position that can be attributable to the Respondent. Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, a complainant can only succeed in an administrative proceeding under the Policy if the following circumstances are met:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
(ii) the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Panel will further analyze the potential concurrence of the above circumstances.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant holds rights in the GEICO trademark.
The disputed domain name <geivo.com> incorporate the Complainant’s trademark GEICO with a misspelling, the letter “c” being replaced with “v”. However, such misspelling does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity as the Complainant’s trademark is clearly recognizable within the disputed domain name.
Numerous UDRP panels have considered that a domain name which consists of a common, obvious or intentional misspelling of a trademark is confusingly similar to the relevant mark for the purpose of the first element. See section 1.9 of theWIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).
Further, it is well established in decisions under the UDRP that the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) (e.g., “.net”, “.info”, “.com”, “.org”) may typically be disregarded for the purposes of consideration of confusing similarity between a trademark and a domain name.
Given the above, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name <geivo.com> is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark GEICO, pursuant to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant asserts that the Respondent does not hold any trademark rights, license or authorization whatsoever to use the mark GEICO, that the Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name and that the Respondent has not used the disputed domain name in connection with a legitimate noncommercial or fair use or a bona fide offering of goods and services.
Under the Policy, “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”. See section 2.1 of theWIPO Overview 3.0.
The Respondent has not replied to the Complainant’s contentions and has not come forward with relevant evidence to rebut the Complainant’s prima facie case.
There is nothing in the record suggesting that the Respondent has ever been commonly known by the disputed domain name.
The Respondent has used the disputed domain name in connection with parking pages, or to redirect Internet users to third parties websites. Panels have constantly found that the use of a domain name to host a parked page comprising PPC links does not represent a bona fide offering where such links compete with or capitalize on the reputation and goodwill of the complainant’s marks or otherwise mislead Internet users. See section 2.9 of theWIPO Overview 3.0.
Consequently, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, pursuant to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii).
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant holds trademark rights for almost eighty years.
The disputed domain name was created in 2005 and incorporates the Complainant’s mark with an obvious misspelling, the letter “c” from the trademark being replaced with “v” in the disputed domain name, both letters being located next to each other on a standard qwerty-keyboard, as Complainant argued.
For the above, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith, knowing the Complainant and targeting its trademark.
At the time of filing the Complaint the disputed domain name resolved to third parties pages, as well as to parking pages providing links to competing services to those offered by the Complainant.
Paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy provides that the use of a domain name to intentionally attempt “to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [the respondent’s] website or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of [the respondent’s] website or location or of a product or service on [the respondent’s] website or location” is evidence of registration and use in bad faith.
The Respondent was using without permission the Complainant’s trademark in order to get traffic on its web portal or to misleadingly divert Internet users to third parties websites, and thus to obtain commercial gain from the false impression created with regard to a potential affiliation or connection with the Complainant.
The Panel found that the Respondent was involved in at least one other UDRP dispute decided against it.
On the corresponding WhoIs, the disputed domain name was offered for public sale for more than 500 USD, an amount which exceeds the documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the disputed domain name.
Furthermore, the Complainant registered the disputed domain name under a proxy services and refused to participate in the present proceeding in order to put forward any arguments in its favor.
There are recognized legitimate uses of privacy and proxy registration services or legitimate business of buying and selling domain names; the circumstances in which such services are used and performed, including whether the Respondent is operating a commercial and trademark abusive website, can impact the panel’s assessment. See section 3.6 of the WIPO Overview 3.0. In the present case, all the circumstances combined lead the Panel to the conclusion that the Respondent was acting in bad faith.
For all the above reasons, the Panel finds that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith, pursuant to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii).
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 <geivo.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: October 2, 2019
1 See section 4.8 of theWIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition