WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Government Employees Insurance Company (“GEICO”) v. Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0136120325 / Privacy Protection, Privacy Protect
Case No. D2020-1013
1. The Parties
Complainant is Government Employees Insurance Company (“GEICO”), United States of America (“United States”), represented by Burns & Levinson LLP, United States.
Respondent is Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0136120325, Canada / Privacy Protection, Privacy Protect, United States.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <geicoservice.com> is registered with Tucows Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 24, 2020. On April 27, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 28, 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 Complainant on April 29, 2020 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar and inviting Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainant filed an amended Complaint on May 4, 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on May 6, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was May 26, 2020. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on May 28, 2020.
The Center appointed M. Scott Donahey as the sole panelist in this matter on June 2, 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
Complainant has provided insurance services in the United States since 1936. Complainant’s insurance services include insurance for automobiles, motorcycles, homes, rentals, condominiums. Complainant has operated under the GEICO trademark for almost 80 years. Complainant expends large sums in the promotion of its services through television, print media, and the Internet. Complainant has issued more than 17 million policies and insures more than 28 million vehicles.
Complainant has numerous trademarks for GEICO registered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), dating from at least as early as January 14, 1964. Complainant has also registered the domain name <geico.com>, which resolved to a website which it uses to advertise its services and to permit customers to access its information and manage their policies and claims. Complaint, Annex E.
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on December 8, 2010. Complaint, Annex A. In its registration agreement Respondent claims to be located in the state of “Kaliningrad” in the United States. The street address and zip code appear to correspond to that of a UPS store. Complaint, Annex G. The telephone number provided in the listing corresponds to the number of the sales department of a business called Dynamic Dolphin, Inc. Complaint Annex H.
Respondent is using the disputed domain name to resolve to a website at which a list of pay-per-click links redirect users to third-party websites, including the websites of competitors of Complainant. Complaint, Annex F.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its GEICO mark, in that it consists of the GEICO trademark and the word “service”. Complainant alleges that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. Complainant asserts that Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A panel shall decide a 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.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that the complainant must prove each of the following:
(i) that the domain name registered by the respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
(ii) that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name consists of Complainant’s registered trademark GEICO followed by the English word “service.” This is a descriptive term that suggests the nature of the business which Complainant provides. The addition of such term would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademark.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
While the overall burden of proof in UDRP proceedings is on the complainant, UDRP 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. WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 2.1.
In the present case, Complainant alleges that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name and Respondent has failed to assert any such rights or legitimate interests. Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Respondent has furnished the Registrar with spurious information concerning Respondent’s address and telephone number. Respondent has used the disputed domain name to resolve to a pay-per-click website which contains links to websites of Complainant’s competitors. UDRP panels have long found that such false registration and deceptive use constitute bad faith registration and use. Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
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, <geicoservice.com>, be transferred to Complainant.
M. Scott Donahey
Date: June 15, 2020