WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Government Employees Insurance Company v. Name Redacted
Case No. D2020-2549
1. The Parties
Complainant is Government Employees Insurance Company, United States of America (“United States”), represented by Burns & Levinson LLP, United States.
Respondent is Name Redacted.1
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <geico.design> is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 1, 2020. On October 2, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 2, 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 October 5, 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 October 6, 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 October 7, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 27, 2020. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on October 30, 2020.
The Center appointed Georges Nahitchevansky as the sole panelist in this matter on November 25, 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, Government Employees Insurance Company, is an insurance company based in the United States that provides insurance services. Complainant uses the name and mark GEICO in connection with its services and owns a number of United States trademark registrations for the GEICO mark, the earliest of which issued to registration in January 1964 (Registration No. 763,274). Complainant also owns and uses the domain name <geico.com> to promote and sell its vehicle insurance services and to allow its customers to manage their policies and claims.
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on September 5, 2020. The disputed domain name currently redirects to an inactive default page. The disputed domain name has also been set-up for email use.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant contends that it is a well-known insurance company that has provided insurance services since 1936 and for nearly 80 years under the GEICO name and mark.
Complainant argues that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s GEICO mark as it fully consists of the distinctive GEICO mark with the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) extension “.design.”
Complainant asserts that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name as Respondent (i) has no connection or affiliation with Complainant, (ii) no license or authorization from Complainant to use the GEICO mark in a domain name, and (iii) knowingly misappropriated the famous GEICO mark to create an impression of an association with Complainant.
Lastly, Complainant contends that Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith given the well-known and distinctive character of Complainant’s GEICO mark. Complainant maintains that Respondent knowingly registered the disputed domain name to take advantage of Complainant’s rights in the GEICO mark and to attract web users to Respondent’s website. Complainant also argues that Respondent was likely aware of Complainant and the GEICO mark, as Respondent registered the disputed domain name under the name of Complainant’s President and CEO and used Complainant’s actual contact and address information. Finally, Complainant argues that Respondent’s bad faith is established by Respondent’s use of a fake email address meant to impersonate Complainant’s President and CEO.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, to succeed Complainant must satisfy the Panel that:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights;
(ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
Here, although Respondent has failed to respond to the Complaint, the default does not automatically result in a decision in favor of Complainant, nor is it an admission that Complainant’s claims are true. The burden remains with Complainant to establish the three elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy by a preponderance of the evidence. A panel, however, may draw appropriate inferences from a respondent’s default in light of the particular facts and circumstances of the case, such as regarding factual allegations that are not inherently implausible as being true. See section 4.3 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”); see also The Knot, Inc. v. In Knot We Trust LTD, WIPO Case No. D2006-0340.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Complainant has provided evidence that it owns trademarks registrations for the GEICO mark in the United States. The disputed domain name fully incorporates Complainant’s GEICO mark. As the threshold for the first element is primarily to establish standing, the Panel concludes that Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, the complainant must make at least a prima facie showing that the respondent possesses no rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name. Malayan Banking Berhad v. Beauty, Success & Truth International, WIPO Case No. D2008-1393. Once the complainant makes such a prima facie showing, the burden of production shifts to the respondent,though the burden of proof always remains on the complainant. If the respondent fails to come forward with evidence showing rights or legitimate interests, the complainant will have sustained its burden under the second element of the UDRP.
Based on the evidence submitted in this proceeding, and Respondent’s failure to participate in this matter, it appears more likely than not that Respondent does not have a right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. Respondent has registered the disputed domain name using the name of Complainant’s President and CEO along with Complainant’s actual contact information. Such use of Complainant’s information in connection with a domain name that fully and solely consists of the GEICO mark suggests that Respondent may have registered the disputed domain name to impersonate or pass itself off as Complainant.
Moreover, Respondent has made limited use of the disputed domain name since registering it in September 2020 for an inactive web page and for email use. Notably, Respondent has not only failed to contest any of Complainant’s allegations, but has provided no explanation as to how and why Respondent registered the disputed domain name that incorporates the GEICO mark. Such failures when viewed in conjunction with Complainant’s rights in the GEICO mark suggests that Respondent lacks any legitimate purpose or basis for registering the disputed domain name and has done so as an opportunistic act for the benefit or profit of Respondent.
Given that Complainant has established with sufficient evidence that it owns rights in the GEICO, and given Respondent’s above noted actions and failure to respond, the Panel concludes that Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name and that none of the circumstances of paragraph 4(c) of the Policy are evident in this case.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Given Respondent’s actions as noted above, Respondent’s lack of connection to Complainant or Complainant’s GEICO mark, and Respondent’s failure to appear in this matter, it is easy to infer that Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name which fully copies Complainant’s GEICO mark was done opportunistically and in bad faith. The fact that Respondent has (i) registered the disputed domain name using false contact information that on its face impersonates Complainant and its President and CEO, (ii) set up the disputed domain name for email use, and (iii) provided no reasonable explanation for registering a domain name that is identical to Complainant’s GEICO mark, underscores that Respondent’s intent in registering and using the disputed domain name is more likely than not in bad faith, for the profit of Respondent or for some illegitimate purpose.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that Complainant succeeds under this element 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 disputed domain name <geico.design> be transferred to Complainant.
Date: December 16, 2020
1 Respondent appears to have used the name of Complainant’s President and CEO along with Complainant’s actual contact information when registering the disputed domain name. In light of the potential identity theft, the Panel has redacted Respondent’s name from this decision. However, the Panel has attached as Annex 1 to this decision an instruction to the Registrar regarding transfer of the disputed domain name, which includes the name of Respondent. The Panel has authorized the Center to transmit Annex 1 to the Registrar as part of the order in this proceeding, and has indicated Annex 1 to this decision shall not be published due to the exceptional circumstances of this case. See Banco Bradesco S.A. v. FAST-12785241 Attn. Bradescourgente.net / Name Redacted, WIPO Case No. D2009-1788.