WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Ropes & Gray LLP v. Rhonda Brinegar
Case No. D2019-2275
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Ropes & Gray LLP, United States of America (“U.S.”), internally represented.
The Respondent is Rhonda Brinegar, U.S.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <ropesqrey.com> is registered with Hosting Concepts B.V. d/b/a Openprovider (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 18, 2019. On September 19, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 23, 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 September 24, 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 September 26, 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 September 27, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 17, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 28, 2019
The Center appointed Evan D. Brown as the sole panelist in this matter on October 31, 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 well-known law firm that has existed under its current name for more than 150 years. It owns a registration for the ROPES & GRAY trademark, United States Registration No. 2902936, issued on November 16, 2004 (alleging a date of first use in commerce of October 31, 1865). The Respondent registered the disputed domain name on August 7, 2019, and has, according to the Complainant, used the disputed domain name to send phishing emails that seek to fraudulently obtain payment from recipients of those messages.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks; that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
To succeed, the Complainant must demonstrate that all of the elements listed in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been satisfied:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Panel finds that all three of these elements have been met in this case.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has strong trademark rights in its ROPES & GRAY mark based on its longstanding use and registration of the mark. The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the ROPES & GRAY mark, particularly when one considers the way that a lower case “q” resembles a lower case “g” to make the appearance of the marks quite similar. The Complainant has succeeded on this first element of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel finds that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name for the following reasons.
The Panel evaluates this element of the Policy by first looking to see whether the Complainant has made a prima facie showing that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. If the Complainant makes that showing, the burden of demonstrating rights or legitimate interests shifts to the Respondent.
The Complainant has established, prima facie, that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. On this point, the Complainant asserts, among other things, that:
- There is no relationship or affiliation between the Complainant and the Respondent giving rise to any license, permission, or other right by which the Respondent could own or use any domain name incorporating the Complainant’s registered ROPES & GRAY mark.
- Both prior to and subsequent to the date of registration, the Respondent has not used or prepared to use the disputed domain name with any bona fide offering of goods or services.
- The Respondent has not been commonly known by the disputed domain name.
- The Respondent has not made any noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name
Because the Respondent failed to introduce evidence to rebut this prima facie showing, the Panel finds that the Complainant has established this second element under the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Policy requires the Complainant to establish that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. Based on the available record, the Panel finds that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. Using the disputed domain name to send fraudulent email is a strong example of bad faith under the Policy.
Accordingly, the Complainant has satisfied this third element of the Policy.
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 <ropesqrey.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Evan D. Brown
Date: November 14, 2019