WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Sidley Austin LLP v. Domain Administrator, See PrivacyGuardian.org / Bien, Bien Tran
Case No. D2019-2708
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Sidley Austin LLP, United States of America (“United States”), represented by Rollin A. Ransom, United States.
The Respondent is Domain Administrator, See PrivacyGuardian.org, United States / Bien, Bien Tran, Viet Nam.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <sidleyaustinllp.top> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with NameSilo, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 5, 2019. On November 6, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On November 6, 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 November 8, 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 November 12, 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 November 19, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 9, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 16, 2019.
The Center appointed Nicholas Smith as the sole panelist in this matter on December 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.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a law firm headquartered in the United States with offices in over 20 cities worldwide, including in North America, Europe and Asia. The Complainant has traded under various names for over 150 years and under the Sidley Austin name since 1967. The Complainant has 2,000 lawyers and annual revenues of USD 2 billion. The Complainant has since 1999 owned the domain name <sidleyaustin.com> which redirects to the Complainant’s official website at “www.sidleyaustin.com” (“Complainant’s Website”).
The Complainant is the owner of a trade mark registration in the United States for a mark consisting of the words “Sidley Austin” (the “SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark”) registration No. 3,221,189 registered on March 17, 2007.
The Domain Name was registered on October 25, 2019. The Domain Name redirects to the Complainant’s Website.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant makes the following contentions:
(i) that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark;
(ii) that the Respondent has no rights nor legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and
(iii) that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Complainant is the owner of the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark having registered the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark as a trade mark in the United States. The Domain Name is confusingly similar to the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark since it only adds the letters “llp” to the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark to create the Domain Name.
There are no rights or legitimate interests held by the Respondent in respect of the Domain Name. The Complainant has not granted any license or authorization for the Respondent to use the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark. The Respondent does not use the Domain Name for a bona fide purpose or legitimate noncommercial purpose. Rather the Domain Name has never been used to redirect to the Complainant’s Website, which does not provide the Respondent with any rights or legitimate interests.
The Respondent has registered and proposes to use the Domain Name in bad faith. Given the fame of the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark and the nature of the Domain Name, being the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark with the addition of “llp”, there are no plausible circumstances under which the Respondent could legitimately use the Domain Name other than in bad faith. In such circumstances, the Respondent’s use of the Domain Name to redirect to the Complainant’s Website amounts to use of the Domain Name in bad faith since Respondent seeks to deceive persons as to its true identity.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
To prove this element the Complainant must have trade or service mark rights and the Domain Name must be identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trade or service mark.
The Complainant is the owner of the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark, having registered the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark as a trade mark in the United States.
Disregarding the “.top” generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) as a necessary technical requirement of the Domain Name, the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark since it wholly incorporates the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark and adds the letters “llp” which are an abbreviation for “limited liability partnership”. A limited liability partnership is a form of business entity commonly used by law firms in general and the Complainant in particular which trades under the name Sidley Austin LLP. Consequently, the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy is satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
To succeed on this element, a complainant may make out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. If such a prima facie case is made out, the respondent then has the burden of demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy enumerates several ways in which a respondent may demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name:
“Any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be proved based on its evaluation of all evidence presented, shall demonstrate your rights or legitimate interests to the domain name for purposes of paragraph 4(a)(ii):
(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) you are making legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.”
The Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant in any way. It has not been authorized by the Complainant to register or use the Domain Name or to seek the registration of any domain name incorporating the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark or a mark similar to the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark. There is no evidence that the Respondent is commonly known by the Domain Name or any similar name.
There is no evidence that the Respondent has used or made demonstrable preparations to use the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services or for a legitimate noncommercial use. Rather the Domain Name simply redirects to the Complainant’s Website, which by itself is insufficient basis to find rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. The Respondent has chosen not to respond to the Complaint and thus has failed to provide any evidence of rights and legitimate interests in the Domain Name. The Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
For the purposes of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of the Domain Name in bad faith:
(i) circumstances indicating that the Respondent has registered or has acquired the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the Domain Name registrations to the Complainant who is the owner of the trade mark or service mark or to a competitor of the Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of its documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the Domain Name; or
(ii) the Respondent has registered the Domain Name in order to prevent the owner of the trade mark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that the Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) the Respondent has registered the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the Domain Name, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website or other online 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.
The Panel finds that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant and its reputation in the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark at the time the Respondent registered the Domain Name since the Domain Name redirects to the Complainant’s Website. The registration of the Domain Name in awareness of the Complainant and its rights in the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark and in the absence of rights or legitimate interests amounts to registration in bad faith.
The Panel is prepared to infer, based on the conduct of the Respondent, including the use of the Domain Name to redirect to the Complainant’s Website, the nature of the Domain Name itself, being the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark plus “llp”, the failure by the Respondent to participate in this proceeding or otherwise provide any explanation of its conduct and the lack of any apparent legitimate reason for the registration and use of the Domain Name, that the Domain Name is most likely being held pending use in a bad faith manner that would take advantage of confusion between the Domain Name and the SIDLEY AUSTIN Mark for commercial gain. Use in this manner is use in bad faith, see BHP Billiton Innovation Pty Ltd. v. Domain Place, WIPO Case No. D2007-0244.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith under paragraph 4(a)(iii) 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 Domain Name <sidleyaustinllp.top> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: January 1, 2020