WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Mr. Roland Isaev v. WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc. / Name Redacted
Case No. D2020-2721
1. The Parties
Complainant is Mr. Roland Isaev, United Kingdom, represented by J A Kemp., United Kingdom.
Respondent is WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc., Panama / Name Redacted, Belarus.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <rolandisaev.com>, <roland-isaev.life>. and <rolandisaev.vip> (the “Domain Names”) are registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 16, 2020. On October 16, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Names. On October 23, 2020, February 3, 2021 the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Domain Names which differed from named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to Complainant on October 28, 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 February 3, 2021 and February 13, 2021, following the suspension that was requested on October 31, 2020.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended Complaints 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 February 17, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 9, 2021. Respondent did not submit any response, but Respondent sent several emails to the Center when the case was suspended. Accordingly, the Center notified the Parties of the commencement of Panel Appointment on March 10, 2021.
The Center appointed Robert A. Badgley as the sole panelist in this matter on March 15, 2021. 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 asked the Panel to redact the purported name of Respondent because the actual registrant of the three subject Domain Names is using a false name – the name of one of Complainant’s current business partners – in the Whois registration information. In other words, Complainant asserts, the true Respondent here is engaged in identity theft. Respondent has not disputed Complainant’s allegation in this regard, an allegation the Panel finds plausible, and therefore the Panel has redacted the purported name of the Respondent in this proceeding, and will refer to Complainant’s business partner as Name Redacted hereafter.
Complainant is an international entrepreneur who, according to the Complaint and annexed news articles from 2008 to 2017, is a well-known international businessman. Complainant holds a Benelux registered trademark for ROLAND ISAEV for business management and advisory services, and various related services. The Benelux Office of Intellectual Property issued trademark registration number 1426281 registered October 6, 2020, for the ROLAND ISAEV word mark.
Complainant asserts that, since 2008, he has partnered with Name Redacted “in respect of a company called Softswiss which operates in part out of the [United Kingdom].”
The WhoIs registration information for the Domain Names indicates that Name Redacted is the Chief Technology Officer of a purported firm called Swisssoft, based in Minsk, Belarus, at an address which, according to Complainant, does not exist. According to the Complaint, Name Redacted did not register the Domain Names, and had no knowledge of the Domain Names before “this dispute came to light.”
The Domain Names were registered on June 8, 2020 (<rolandisaev.com>), October 18, 2020 (<rolandisaev.vip>), and October 26, 2020 (<roland-isaev.life>). The first two Domain Names do not resolve to any active website. The third Domain Name, <roland-isaev.life>, resolves to a website which, according to Complainant, provides “unlawfully obtained” information about Complainant, including emails between Complainant and third parties which allegedly were intercepted by Respondent “via hacking.”
Complainant alleges that a company he owns recently engaged in successful litigation arising from a “soured business relationship.” After that litigation concluded, Complainant alleges, he and some of his business partners – including Name Redacted – were “targeted with various forms of cyberattacks.” One form of cyberattack was the “registration and misuse of a number of domain names, including the Domain Names [at issue in this proceeding].”
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant contends that it has established all three elements required under the Policy for a transfer of each of the Domain Names.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists the three elements which Complainant must satisfy with respect to each of the Domain Names:
(i) the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(ii) 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 Panel concludes that Complainant has rights in the trademark ROLAND ISAEV through registration demonstrated in the record. The Panel also concludes that the Domain Names are confusingly similar to the ROLAND ISAEV mark. The Domain Names entirely incorporate the ROLAND ISAEV mark, and in one instance the Domain Name includes an inconsequential hyphen.
Complainant has established Policy paragraph 4(a)(i).
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
For each of the Domain Names, pursuant to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, Respondent may establish its rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name, among other circumstances, by showing any of the following elements:
(i) before any notice to you [Respondent] of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the Domain Name or a name corresponding to the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) you [Respondent] (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the Domain Name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) you [Respondent] are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.
The Panel concludes that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names. Respondent has not come forward to explain or prove any legitimate basis on which he registered the Domain Names. Complainant has plausibly alleged that Respondent has engaged in identity theft, both in connection with the false registration information surrounding the Domain Names and in connection with the hacking of accounts to intercept and publish emails between Complainant and third parties. Respondent, in the face of these serious allegations, has said nothing. The Panel, on this undisputed record, is inclined to credit Complainant’s allegations. On that basis, it is clear that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests vis-à-vis the Domain Names.
Complainant has established Policy paragraph 4(a)(ii).
C. Registered or Used in Bad Faith
For each of the Domain Names, paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides that the following circumstances, “in particular but without limitation,” are evidence of the registration and use of the Domain Name in “bad faith”:
(i) circumstances indicating that Respondent has registered or has acquired the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the Domain Name registration to Complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of its documented out of pocket costs directly related to the Domain Name; or
(ii) that Respondent has registered the Domain Name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) that Respondent has registered the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) that by using the Domain Name, Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to Respondent’s website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of Respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on Respondent’s website or location.
The Panel concludes that Respondent has registered and used the Domain Names in bad faith. The Panel incorporates its discussion above in the “rights or legitimate interests” section. It is obvious that Respondent targeted Complainant and his ROLAND ISAEV trademark. The false use of Name Redacted – Complainant’s longtime business partner – as the person who purportedly registered the Domain Names makes it clear that Respondent had Complainant in mind when registering the Domain Names.
As the Panel found in the previous section, Respondent has engaged in identity theft and has hacked into Complainant’s system in order to intercept and publish emails between Complainant and third parties. That is clear bad faith within the meaning of the Policy.
The Panel is also prepared to hold that Respondent’s registration of three Domain Names reflecting the ROLAND ISAEV trademark constitutes a pattern of preclusive registrations within the meaning of the above-quoted Policy paragraph 4(b)(ii).
Complainant has established Policy paragraph 4(a)(iii).
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Names <rolandisaev.com>, <roland-isaev.life>, and <rolandisaev.vip> be transferred to Complainant.
Robert A. Badgley
Date: March 29, 2021