WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Facebook Inc. v. Guven Ozdemir

Case No. D2020-2945

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Facebook Inc., United States of America (“United States”), represented by Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP, France.

The Respondent is Guven Ozdemir, Turkey.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <facebookhelpcenter.com> is registered with Nics Telekomunikasyon A.S. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 6, 2020. On November 6, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 8, 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 Registrar also indicated that the language of the Registration Agreement was Turkish. The Center sent an email communication in English and Turkish, to the Parties on November 9, 2020, inviting the Complainant to provide sufficient evidence of an agreement between the Parties for English to be the language of the proceeding, a Complaint translated into Turkish, or a request for English to be the language of the proceeding. The Complainant filed a request for English to be the language of the proceeding on the same day. The Respondent did not comment on the language of the proceeding.

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 24, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 14, 2020. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 16, 2020.

The Center appointed Kaya Köklü as the sole panelist in this matter on December 30, 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 leading online social networking service, which was founded in 2004. According to undisputed information in the Complaint, it has more than 2.5 billion monthly users worldwide.

The Complainant is the owner of the trademark FACEBOOK, which is registered and used around the world. The Complainant is the owner of many trademark registrations worldwide, e.g., United States Trademark Registration No. 3041791 (registered on January 10, 2006), and Turkish Trademark Registration No. 2017 47534 (registered on November 28, 2017), (Annex 6 to the Complaint).

The Complainant further owns and operates a large number of domain names like <facebook.com> and <facebook.com.tr>.

The disputed domain name was registered on March 25, 2020.

Apparently, the disputed domain name has not been actively used since its registration. It currently does not resolve to an active website and it used to resolve to a parking page without any relevant content (Annex 9 to the Complaint).

The Respondent is an individual from Turkey, who offered to sell the disputed domain name to the Complainant prior to the administrative proceedings at a price of USD 1 million (Annex 10 to the Complaint).

Additionally, the Respondent was already involved in a previous UDRP dispute with the Complainant, which was decided in favor of the Complainant by ordering the transfer of the at that time disputed domain name from the Respondent to the Complainant. Facebook Inc. v. Guven Ozdemir, WIPO Case No. D2019-1471.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain name.

The Complainant is of the opinion that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s FACEBOOK trademark, as it fully incorporates the Complainant’s trademark.

Furthermore, the Complainant argues that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. In particular, the Complainant states that it has never granted a permission or license to the Respondent to use its trademark. The Complainant further states that the Respondent has never used and does not intend to use the FACEBOOK trademark in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services.

Finally, it is argued that, given the circumstances of the case, the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

6.1. Language of the Proceeding

The Panel determines in accordance with the Complainant’s request and the Rules, paragraph 11(a), that the language of these administrative proceedings shall be English.

Although the language of the registration agreement is Turkish, the Panel finds that it would be inappropriate, given the circumstances of this case, to conduct the proceedings in Turkish and request a Turkish translation of the Complaint, while the Respondent has failed to raise any objection or even to respond to the Center’s communication about the language of the proceedings, even though communicated in Turkish and in English. The Panel notes that the Respondent was given the opportunity to respond in Turkish and that this opportunity remained unused by the Respondent. In addition, the Panel notes that prior to the administrative proceeding, the Respondent sent a letter to the Complainant in English and Turkish (Annex 10 to the Complaint), which indicates that the Respondent is able to read, write and communicate in English.

Consequently, the Panel is convinced that the Respondent will not be prejudiced by a decision being rendered in English.

6.2. Substantive Issues

According to paragraph 15(a) of the Rules, the Panel shall decide the Complaint in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.

In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that each of the three following elements is satisfied:

(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights; and

(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and

(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy states that the Complainant bears the burden of proving that all these requirements are fulfilled, even if the Respondent has not replied to the Complaint’s contentions. Stanworth Development Limited v. E Net Marketing Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2007-1228.

However, concerning the uncontested information provided by the Complainant, the Panel may, where relevant, accept the provided reasonable factual allegations in the Complaint as true. See, section 4.3 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).

Further, it is stated that the Panel has taken note of the WIPO Overview 3.0 and, where appropriate, will decide consistent with the consensus views captured therein.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel finds that the Complainant has registered trademark rights in the mark FACEBOOK by virtue of a large number of trademark registrations worldwide.

The Panel further finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark, as it fully incorporates the mark FACEBOOK. As stated at section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, where the relevant trademark is recognizable within the disputed domain name, the addition of other terms does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity. The mere addition of the dictionary terms “help” and “center”, does, in view of the Panel, not serve to avoid a finding of confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s FACEBOOK trademark.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirement under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Panel further finds that the Respondent has failed to demonstrate any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

While the burden of proof on this element remains with the complainant, previous UDRP panels have recognized that this would result in the often impossible task of proving a negative, in particular as the evidence in this regard is often primarily within the knowledge of the respondent. Therefore, the Panel agrees with prior UDRP panels that the Complainant is required to make out a prima facie case before the burden of production shifts to the Respondent to show that it has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name in order to meet the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy. See, Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455.

The Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied this requirement, while the Respondent has failed to file any evidence or make any convincing argument to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name according to the Policy, paragraphs 4(a)(ii) and 4(c).

In its Complaint, the Complainant has provided uncontested prima facie evidence that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests to use the Complainant’s FACEBOOK trademark in a confusingly similar way within the disputed domain name.

There is also no indication in the current record that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name, particularly as the disputed domain name has not been actively used since its registration on March 25, 2020. In this regard, the Respondent has also failed to demonstrate any of the other non-exclusive circumstances evidencing rights or legitimate interests under the Policy, paragraph 4(c) or other evidence of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

In addition, the Panel notes the composition of the disputed domain name, which carries a risk of implied affiliation or endorsement.

As a conclusion, the Panel finds that the Complainant has also satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Panel is convinced that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s trademark when it registered the disputed domain name in March 2020. At the date of registration of the disputed domain name, the Complainant’s FACEBOOK trademark was already registered, widely used and well-known for many years.

With respect to use of the disputed domain name in bad faith, as already indicated before, the disputed domain name has apparently yet not been linked to an active website. Nonetheless, and in line with the previous UDRP decisions (e.g. Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003) and section 3.3 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, the Panel believes that the non-use of a domain name does not prevent a finding of bad faith use.

Applying the passive holding doctrine as summarized in section 3.3 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, the Panel assesses the Complainant’s FACEBOOK trademark as sufficiently distinctive and even well-known (including in Turkey, where the Respondent is located), so that a descriptive use of the Complainant’s trademark within the dispute domain name is not conceivable.

Furthermore, the Panel accepts the failure of the Respondent to submit a substantive response to the Complainant’s contentions as an additional indication for bad faith use.

Also, the Panel finds the Respondent’s offer to sell the disputed domain name seeking a payment of USD 1 million in return for the disputed domain name, which clearly exceeds the Respondent’s out-of-pocket costs directly related to the disputed domain name, to be an additional evidence of bad faith use.

Taking all circumstances of this case into consideration, the Panel concludes that in the present case the passive holding of the disputed domain name and the Respondent’s attempt to sell the disputed domain name to a price clearly exceeding out-of-pocket costs, sufficiently indicates bad faith use by the Respondent. The Panel is convinced that this is a typical cybersquatting case, which the UDRP was designed to stop.

Consequently, the Panel is finds that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith and that the Complainant consequently has satisfied the third element of the Policy, namely, paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

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 disputed domain name <facebookhelpcenter.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Kaya Köklü
Sole Panelist
Date: January 8, 2021