WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
SODEXO v. Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 1246235165 / Denise Sullivan
Case No. D2020-0188
1. The Parties
The Complainant is SODEXO, France, represented by Areopage, France.
The Respondent is Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 1246235165, Canada / Denise Sullivan, United States of America (“United States”).
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <sodexous.info> is registered with Google LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 24, 2020. On January 27, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 27, 2020, 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 January 29, 2020 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 January 30, 2020.
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 February 3, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was February 23, 2020. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 25, 2020.
The Center appointed Jane Lambert as the sole panelist in this matter on March 11, 2020. 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 public limited company incorporated in France with subsidiaries in 72 countries employing 460,000 persons supplying 100 million customers. Its businesses range from victualling and catering to facilities management. The turnover of the Complainant and its subsidiaries in 2018 was 20.4 billion EUR. About 43% of its revenues were generated in North America, 39% in Europe and 18% in the rest of the world.
The company and its subsidiaries have a large portfolio of trade mark registrations. By way of example, the mark SODEXO is registered as an international trade mark for goods and services in classes 9, 16, 35. 36. 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44 and 45 for a number of countries including United States under registration number 964615 since January 8, 2008. Further, by reason of its sales and advertising, businesses and consumers around the world associate the SODEXO mark in relation to the goods and services in which it trades with the Complainant and its subsidiaries and none other. For that reason, the Complainant has prevailed in a number of domain name disputes similar to the current one.
The disputed domain name had been registered in the name of a privacy service. That service has disclosed the name of the second named Respondent and an address in Houston that was alleged to be that Respondent’s address. It is not known whether the name that was disclosed is an actual name or an alias. However, the address was recognized by Google Maps. Street View reveals what appears to be a single floor dwelling on a residential street.
The disputed domain name has been used as an email address for what appears to have been a fraudulent email. It purported to have been sent by a financial analyst employee of the Complainant. It was addressed to the Assistant Finance Manager of HCP Social Infrastructure which is one of the Complainant’s partners in a consortium to build a cancer hospital in Canada. It appeared to have been copied to the district manager and stakeholder advocate for the Complainant. The disputed domain name was used for bogus email addresses for both the financial analyst and the district manager. The email purported to refer to an earlier email “concerning an ongoing change” with the Complainant’s accounting and asking for an update on behalf of the account’s department. It appears to be a polite reminder of an unpaid invoice. Had anything been paid, the recipient would have been the person who sent the email and not the Complainant.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant requests an order for the disputed domain name to be transferred to it on the grounds that:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(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.
As to the first ground, the Complainant points to its large portfolio of registered trade marks including the international mark mentioned above. The disputed domain name differs from that registered mark only in the addition of the letters “us” at the end of the word “sodexo” and the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.info”. The Complainant submits that the letters “us” will be understood as a reference to the United States where the Complainant carries on much of its business. The bogus email mentioned above indicates that the disputed domain name is likely to be used for fraudulent purposes.
With regard to the second ground, the Complainant denies that the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Complainant has never licensed or otherwise authorized the Respondent to register or use the disputed domain name. There is no connection between the parties.
In relation to the third ground, the Complainant says that the registration of the name or trade mark of a large and well known business of itself is an act of bad faith and refers to several decisions to that effect. The Complainant also refers to the bogus email mentioned above and contends that by using the disputed domain name, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its 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 website or location or of a product or service on its website or location. Attempt to extract money falls within paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
The agreement to incorporate the disputed domain name that the Respondent entered with the Registrar incorporated by paragraph 4(a) of the Policy. That provision required the Respondent to submit to a mandatory administrative proceeding should the Complainant assert in compliance with the Rules that
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
In the administrative proceeding, the Complainant must prove that each of those three elements is present.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel is satisfied that the first element is present.
The Complainant has registered SODEXO as a trade mark in a number of jurisdictions around the world. One of those registrations is international trade mark number 964615 mentioned above. The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the trade mark SODEXO as it incorporates the whole mark together with the letters “us” and the gTLD “.info”. An Internet user would assume that the letters “us” refer to the United States and that disputed domain name is intended to be used by the Complainant’s businesses in that country for a website and possibly email addresses.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel finds that the second element is present.
Section 2.1 of WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) contains the following guidance:
“While the overall burden of proof in UDRP proceedings is on the complainant, 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.”
The Complainant has stated that it has no connection with the Respondent and that it has never licensed or authorized it to register or use the disputed domain name. In view of the size of the Complainant’s trade mark portfolio and the number of jurisdictions in which it has registered SODEXO as a trade mark, it would be difficult if not impossible for any entity other than the Complainant to trade under that name. The Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has made out a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. In the absence of any evidence or representations from the Respondent to the contrary, it follows that the Complainant has fulfilled the second element.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel holds that the third element is present.
For the purposes of paragraph 4(a)(iii), paragraph 4(b) lists a number of circumstances, in particular but without limitation, which, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith. One of those circumstances is using the disputed domain name intentionally attempting 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 web site or location or of a product or service on such web site or location.
The Panel has already found the disputed domain name to be confusingly similar to the Complainant’s mark. The disputed domain name has already been used as an email address in an attempt to extract money from HCP Social Infrastructure. The bogus email address is a location of the Respondent on the Internet. HCP Social Infrastructure is an Internet user whom the Respondent sought to attract to that location.
That is enough to support a finding of registration and use in bad faith. The Complainant also argued that the registration of a domain name that was confusingly similar to the trading name or trade mark of a multinational company was of itself evidence of registration and use in bad faith. It certainly supports the finding but as the case falls within paragraph 4(b)(iv) it is not necessary to consider that argument further.
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 <sodexous.info> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: March 23, 2020