WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
SODEXO v. Super Privacy Service LTD c/o Dynadot / Zhichao
Case No. D2020-3539
1. The Parties
Complainant is SODEXO, France, represented by Areopage, France.
Respondent is Super Privacy Service LTD c/o Dynadot, United States of America (“United States”), / Zhichao, China.1
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <sodexousacareers.com> is registered with Dynadot, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 29, 2020. On December 29, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On December 29, 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 January 8, 2021, 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 January 13, 2021.
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 January 25, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was February 14, 2021. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on February 15, 2021.
The Center appointed Stephanie G. Hartung as the sole panelist in this matter on February 24, 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 is a company organized under the laws of France that is active in the food services and facilities management industry, including restaurant and catering services.
Complainant has provided evidence that it is the registered owner of numerous trademarks relating its company name and brand “Sodexo”, including the following:
- Word/device mark SODEXO, International registration, registration No. 964615, registration date: January 8, 2008, with protection, inter alia, in China, status: active;
- Word mark SODEXO, European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), registration No. 008346462, registration date: February 1, 2010, status: active.
Moreover, Complainant has demonstrated to own, inter alia, the domain name <sodexo.com> which resolves to Complainant’s official website at “www.sodexo.com”, used to promote Complainant’s services worldwide.
Respondent, according to the disclosed WhoIs information for the disputed domain name, is a resident of China who registered the disputed domain name on February 26, 2020, which resolves to a typical pay-per-click (PPC) website with hyperlinks to active third parties’ websites, some of which are competitors to Complainant’s business e.g. in the catering industry.
Complainant requests that the disputed domain name be transferred to Complainant.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant contends that it has been founded already back in 1966 and that it is nowadays one of the largest companies in the world specialized in food services and facilities management as well as one of the largest employers worldwide, with its SODEXO trademark having a strong reputation and being widely known all over the world, including in China.
Complainant submits that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s SODEXO trademark as the addition of the terms “USA” and “careers” is not sufficient to distinguish the disputed domain name therefrom. Moreover, Complainant asserts that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name since (1) Respondent has not been authorized, licensed or otherwise permitted by Complainant to register the disputed domain name and has no other affiliation, association or the like with Complainant, (2) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in relation to the term “Sodexo” as a corporate name, trade name or the like with priority over Complainant’s rights in the SODEXO trademark, and (3) Respondent was not commonly known by the disputed domain name prior to the adoption and use by Complainant of the corporate name and trademark SODEXO. Finally, Complainant asserts that Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith since (1) the sign SODEXO is purely fanciful and nobody could legitimately choose this word, unless seeking to create an association with Complainant’s SODEXO trademark and, thus, Complainant’s services, (2) due to the well-known character and reputation of Complainant’s SODEXO trademark, Respondent undoubtedly knew of its existence when it registered the disputed domain name, (3) Respondent is using the disputed domain name by exploiting the confusion with Complainant’s well-known SODEXO trademark to attract Internet users and to incite them to click on third parties’ commercial links, and (4) Respondent has been involved in many UDRP cases in the past which led to the transfer of the domain names it registered, which were reproducing trademarks owned by Complainant as well as by other third parties.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, Complainant carries the burden of proving:
(i) that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(ii) that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Respondent’s default in the case at hand does not automatically result in a decision in favor of Complainant, however, paragraph 5(f) of the Rules provides that if Respondent does not submit a response, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, the Panel shall decide the dispute solely based upon the Complaint. Further, according to paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, the Panel may draw such inferences from Respondent’s failure to submit a Response as it considers appropriate.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel concludes that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the SODEXO trademark in which Complainant has rights.
The disputed domain name incorporates the SODEXO trademark in its entirety. Numerous UDRP panels have recognized that incorporating a trademark in its entirety can be sufficient to establish that the disputed domain name is at least confusingly similar to a registered trademark (see e.g. PepsiCo, Inc. v. PEPSI, SRL (a/k/a P.E.P.S.I.) and EMS Computer Industry (a/k/a EMS), WIPO Case No. D2003-0696). Moreover, it has been held in many UDRP decisions and has become a consensus view among UDRP panels (see WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.8), that the addition of other terms (whether e.g. descriptive, geographic or otherwise) would not prevent the finding of confusing similarity under the first element of the UDRP. Accordingly, the addition of the descriptive term “careers” and the geographic term “USA” does not dispel the confusing similarity arising from the incorporation of Complainant’s SODEXO trademark in the disputed domain name.
Therefore, Complainant has established the first element under the Policy set forth by paragraph 4(a)(i).
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel is further convinced on the basis of Complainant’s undisputed contentions that Respondent has not made use of the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor has Respondent been commonly known by the disputed domain name, nor can it be found that Respondent has made a legitimate noncommercial or fair use thereof without intent for commercial gain.
Respondent has not been authorized to use Complainant’s SODEXO trademark, either as a domain name or in any other way. Also, there is no reason to believe that Respondent’s name somehow corresponds with the disputed domain name and Respondent does not appear to have any trademark rights associated with the (invented) term “Sodexo” on its own. Finally, Respondent obviously has neither used the disputed domain name for a bona fide offering of goods or services nor for a legitimate noncommercial or fair purpose. On the contrary, the disputed domain name resolves to a typical PPC website showing a variety of hyperlinks to third parties’ websites, including companies e.g. in the catering industry, for the obvious purpose of generating PPC revenues. UDRP panels agree that using a domain name to host a PPC website does not present a bona fide offering where such links compete with or capitalize on the reputation and goodwill of the complainant’s trademark or otherwise mislead Internet users (see WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.9).
Accordingly, Complainant has established a prima facie case that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Now, the burden of production shifts to Respondent to come forward with appropriate evidence demonstrating to the contrary (see WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.1). Given that Respondent has defaulted, it has not met that burden.
Therefore, the Panel finds that Complainant has also satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) and, thus, the second element of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel finally holds that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used by Respondent in bad faith.
Resolving the disputed domain name, which is confusingly similar to Complainant’s SODEXO trademark, to a typical PPC website showing a variety of hyperlinks to active third parties’ websites, which even include companies in the catering industry which is Complainant’s core business, for the obvious purpose of generating PPC revenues, is a clear indication that Respondent intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its own website by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s SODEXO trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of this website. Such circumstances are evidence of registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
In this context, the Panel has also noted that Respondent not only made use of a WhoIs Privacy Service in order to conceal its true identity, but also provided fault or incomplete contact information in the WhoIs register for the disputed domain name since, according to the email correspondence between the Center and the postal courier DHL, the Written Notice on the Notification of Complaint dated January 25, 2021, could not be delivered. These facts at least throw a light on Respondent’s behavior which supports the Panel’s bad faith finding.
Therefore, Complainant has also satisfied the third element under the Policy as set forth by 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 disputed domain name <sodexousacareers.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Stephanie G. Hartung
Date: March 4, 2021
1 It is evident from the case file that Super Privacy Service LTD c/o Dynadot, United States, is a privacy protection service and that Zhichao, China, is the underlying registrant of the disputed domain name. Therefore, unless otherwise indicated, the term “Respondent” is used by the Panel in the case at hand to refer to the latter underlying registrant only.