WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center


Sodexo v. WhoisGuard, Inc. / Linda Carola

Case No. D2020-2181

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Sodexo, France, represented by Areopage, France.

The Respondent is WhoisGuard, Inc., Panama / Linda Carola, United Arab Emirates.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <sodex0.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 18, 2020. On August 19, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On August 19, 2020, 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 August 20, 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 August 24, 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 August 26, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was September 15, 2020. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on September 16, 2020.

The Center appointed Ian Lowe as the sole panelist in this matter on September 23, 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 French company founded in 1966. It is one of the largest companies in the world specialized in providing food services and facilities management. It has around 470,000 employees worldwide, serving some 100 million customers in 67 countries, including the United Arab Emirates. In the fiscal year 2019, the Complainant had consolidated revenues of over EUR 22 billion.

The Complainant has carried on business since 1966, initially under the mark SODEXHO until 2008, and since then under the SODEXO mark. It is the registered proprietor of numerous trademarks around the world comprising SODEXHO and SODEXO including:

- International trademark number 689106 stylized word mark SODEXHO registered on January 28, 1998 designating 38 territories in Europe and elsewhere;
- International trademark number 964615 stylized word mark SODEXO registered on January 8, 2008 designating 24 territories including the European Union and United States of America;
- European Union Trade Mark number 008346462 SODEXO registered on February 1, 2010.

The Domain Name was registered on May 27, 2020. It does not presently resolve to an active website.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to its SODEXHO and SODEXO trademarks (the “Marks”), that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name, and that the Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, for this Complaint to succeed in relation to the Domain Name the Complainant must prove that:

(i) the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and

(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and

(iii) the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant has uncontested rights in the Marks, both by virtue of its trademark registrations and as a result of the goodwill and reputation acquired through its use of the Marks for over 50 years. Ignoring the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com”, the Domain Name is identical to the Complainant’s SODEXO mark save for the substitution of the letter “o” with the numeral “0”. In the Panel’s view, in light of the visual similarity between the letter “o” and the numeral “0”, the difference does not detract from the confusing similarity between the Domain Name and the Marks. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to a mark in which the Complainant has rights.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Complainant has submitted strong prima facie evidence that the Respondent can have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. In the Panel’s view, the Domain Name is a typical example of typosquatting, whereby a domain name is registered with a minor variation of a well-known brand name with a view to taking advantage of typographical errors or mistaken perception by Internet users. Such a registration cannot possibly, on the face of it, give rise to rights or legitimate interests on the part of the registrant of a domain name. Furthermore, the Respondent has not made any use of the Domain Name that might give rise to such rights or interests.

The Respondent has chosen not to respond to the Complaint and has accordingly failed to counter the prima facie case established by the Complainant. In the circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Panel considers that there is no doubt that given the notoriety of the Marks, the Respondent had the Complainant in mind when it registered the Domain Name and that it did so with the intention of using the Domain Name to deceive Internet users into believing that it was registered by or associated with the Complainant. The Panel cannot conceive of a legitimate use to which the Respondent could put the Domain Name. Although the Respondent has made no active use of the Domain Name, section 3.3 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition notes that, from the inception of the UDRP, panelists have found that the non-use of a domain name does not prevent a finding of bad faith under the doctrine of passive holding. It depends on the facts of the case, and the failure of the Respondent to provide any evidence of actual or contemplated good-faith use is a relevant factor. Typosquatting amounts to paradigm bad faith registration and use for the purposes of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy. In the circumstances, the Panel finds that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith.

7. Decision

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 <sodex0.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Ian Lowe
Sole Panelist
Date: October 7, 2020