WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
L’Oréal v. Edison Godwin, Erdion
Case No. D2020-2923
1. The Parties
The Complainant is L’Oréal, France, represented by Dreyfus & associés, France.
The Respondent is Edison Godwin, Erdion, Cameroon.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <loreal-europe.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 November 4, 2020. On November 5, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 5, 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 November 10, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for the Response was November 30, 2020. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 2, 2020.
The Center appointed Tobias Zuberbühler as the sole panelist in this matter on December 8, 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 industrial group specialized in the field of cosmetics and beauty, which is present in 150 countries with 86,000 employees.
The Complainant owns trademark registrations in various jurisdictions, including the European Union trademark L’OREAL (Reg. No. 013117981, registered on December 19, 2014), the International trademark L’OREAL (Reg. No. 1532645, registered on April 29, 2020) and the International trademark L’ORÉAL (Reg. No. 184970, registered on May 23, 1955).
The Complainant further holds the domain name <loreal.com> under which the official website of the Complainant is available. The Complainant holds several other domain names incorporating the L’OREAL trademark. The Complainant advertises and sells its services through its <loreal.com> domain name.
The disputed domain name was registered on July 1, 2020 and resolves to the Complainant’s official website under its <loreal.com> domain name. An email server is configured under the disputed domain name.
Before initiating the present proceeding, the Complainant made some effort to resolve the matter amicably. The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s several contact attempts.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant alleges that it has satisfied all elements of the Policy, paragraph 4.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
On the basis of the facts and evidence introduced by the Complainant, and with regard to paragraphs 4(a), (b) and (c) of the Policy, the Panel concludes as follows:
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has submitted sufficient evidence to demonstrate its registered rights in the L’OREAL and L’ORÉAL trademarks.
The L’OREAL trademark is wholly reproduced in the disputed domain name.
A domain name is “identical or confusingly similar” to a trademark for the purposes of the Policy when the domain name includes the trademark, or a confusingly similar approximation, regardless of other terms in the domain name (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Richard MacLeod d/b/a For Sale, WIPO Case No. D2000-0662). This especially includes geographical terms like “-europe” because they do not constitute distinguishing elements in the domain name and do not provide additional specification or sufficient distinction from the Complainant or its trademarks. Hence, the Panel holds that the addition of the geographical term “-europe” to the Complainant’s L’OREAL trademark does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s trademark.
The Complainant has thus fulfilled the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
There are no indications before the Panel of any rights or legitimate interests of the Respondent in respect of the disputed domain name. The Complainant contends that the Respondent is neither affiliated with the Complainant nor making any bona fide use of the disputed domain name.
The Respondent uses the disputed domain name to redirect customers to the Complainant’s official website without being affiliated with the Complainant in any way and without reacting to the Complainant’s several contact attempts. The Complainant has credibly asserted that the only conceivable reason for this conduct of the Respondent (combined with the fact that the Respondent has configured an email server under the disputed domain name) is that the Respondent must be assumed to use the email addresses configured from the disputed domain name to conduct a phishing and fraud scheme. No other reason for the Respondent’s conduct is plausible and the Respondent has failed to advance any good faith reasoning on his behalf. This cannot be considered as a bona fide offering of goods or services or a noncommercial use.
Furthermore, the composition of the disputed domain name, wholly incorporating the Complainant’s trademark and a geographical term, cannot constitute fair use in these circumstances as it effectively impersonates or suggests sponsorship or endorsement by the Complainant. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 2.5.1.
The Panel finds that the Complainant, having made out a prima facie case which remains unrebutted by the Respondent, has fulfilled the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Under the circumstances of this case, including the composition of the disputed domain name and reputation of the Complainant’s trademark, the Panel finds that the Respondent was most likely aware of the Complainant’s trademarks when registering the disputed domain name.
The evidence and allegations submitted by the Complainant support a finding that the Respondent must be assumed to be engaged in an attempt to pass himself off as the Complainant to induce the Complainant’s customers into actions for the Respondent’s own commercial benefit. The Respondent therefore used the disputed domain name in bad faith (see Claudie Pierlot v. Yinglong Ma, WIPO Case No. D2018-2466).
Accordingly, the Complainant has also fulfilled paragraph 4(a)(iii) 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 <loreal-europe.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: December 21, 2020