WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Marlink SA v. wire lord
Case No. D2020-2172
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Marlink SA, Belgium, represented by Inlex IP Expertise, France.
The Respondent is wire lord, United States of America (“United States”).
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <marilnk.com> is registered with NameSilo, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 18, 2020. On August 18, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On August 18, 2020, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details.
The Center verified that the 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 3, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was September 23, 2020. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on September 29, 2020.
The Center appointed Andrew F. Christie as the sole panelist in this matter on October 9, 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 Belgian company specializing in providing telecommunications services, and particularly cybersecurity, in the maritime industry. It operates internationally through related companies, including Marlink SAS in France, MARLINK Inc. in the United States, and Marlink AS in the Netherlands.
The Complainant owns several trademark registrations that it uses to promote its services throughout the world, including European Union Registration No. 015333487 (registered on October 4, 2016) for the word trademark MARLINK, European Union Registration No. 015462864 (registered on September 16, 2016) for the word and device trademark MARLINK, International Registration No. 1306931 (registered on June 28, 2016) for the word and device trademark MARLINK, and International Registration No. 1309586 (registered on July 13, 2016) for the word trademark MARLINK.
The Complainant is the owner of the domain name <marlink.com>, registered since May 10, 1996, which resolves to the official website of the Complainant.
The Complainant states that it sent a cease and desist letter (at an unspecified date) to the Registrar but did not receive a response.
The disputed domain name was registered on August 1, 2020. The Complainant has provided an undated screenshot showing that it resolved to a website stating “SORRY!”. Currently, it appears that the disputed domain name does not resolve to any website.
The Complainant also provided copies of emails sent to a client of the Complainant, which falsely purported to be from an employee of the Complainant, stating that a certain payment was sent to the wrong bank account and requesting payment to another bank account. These emails falsely purported to be from an email address using the Complainant’s domain name <marlink.com>. A printout provided by the Complainant of the header information for the emails shows that they in fact came from an address using the disputed domain name.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which it has rights because: (i) the only difference between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s MARLINK word trademark is the inversion of the letters “i” and “l”, which does not create a strong difference phonetically or visually; (ii) it is a very common typo-squatting practice to invert letters in the middle of a word; and (iii) the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com” must not be taken into consideration when examining the identity or similarity between the Complainant’s trademark and the disputed domain name.
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name because: (i) the Respondent has no right, including trademark rights, in respect of the name “marilnk” as it registered the disputed domain name only after the Complainant registered its MARLINK trademarks and domain names; (ii) a quick search of the trademark database reveals that the Respondent has no trademark rights in respect of “marilnk”; (iii) a search on the Internet of the Respondent’s name and the string “marilnk” did not match with any result linked to a business named “Marilnk”; (iv) there is no business or legal relationship between the Complainant and the Respondent; (v) the Complainant has neither authorized nor licensed the Respondent to use its trademarks in any way; and (vi) the disputed domain name is used to resolve to an error webpage.
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith because: (i) since the date of registration of the disputed domain name, some of the Complainant’s clients have received fraudulent emails purportedly sent in the name of the Complainant’s employees, informing them of a new (fake) bank account to be used for payments for the Complainant’s services, but this bank account does not belong to the Complainant; (ii) when the Complainant’s clients respond to the fraudulent email the email response is automatically redirected to an email address which uses the disputed domain name; (iii) it is clear that the Respondent has sent emails to the Complainant’s clients providing fraudulent bank details and seeking to divert money from the Complainant; (iv) the disputed domain name is being used for illegitimate activity such as phishing, which is manifestly evidence of the Respondent’s bad faith; (v) the Respondent has intentionally attempted to mislead the Complainant’s clients for illegal gaining purposes, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the origin of the fraudulent emails sent.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Once the gTLD “.com” is ignored (which is appropriate in this case), the disputed domain name consists of the Complainant’s registered word trademark MARLINK, but with the order of the letters “l” and “i” inverted. The trademark is clearly recognizable within the disputed domain name. The inversion of the letters “l” and “i” does not avoid the confusing similarity of the disputed domain name with the trademark. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent is not a licensee of, or otherwise affiliated with, the Complainant, and has not been authorized by the Complainant to use its MARLINK trademark. The Respondent has not provided any evidence that it has been commonly known by, or has made a bona fide use of, the disputed domain name, or that it has, for any other reason, rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The disputed domain name previously resolved to a non-functioning website and currently appears not to resolve to any website. According to the present record, therefore, the disputed domain name is not being used in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, or for a legitimate noncommercial or fair use. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The disputed domain name was registered several years after the Complainant first registered its MARLINK word trademark. The evidence on the record provided by the Complainant with respect to the use of its trademark, combined with the absence of any evidence provided by the Respondent to the contrary, is sufficient to satisfy the Panel that, at the time of registration of the disputed domain name, the Respondent knew of the Complainant’s trademark. Furthermore, the evidence on the record provided by the Complainant indicates that the Respondent has used the disputed domain name to send fraudulent emails to clients of the Complainant, falsely purporting to be from the Complainant, requesting payment be made to a bank account that is not an account of the Complainant. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used 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 <marilnk.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Andrew F. Christie
Date: October 23, 2020