WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Carvana, LLC v. Whois Privacy Protection Foundation/ D.N, Deriok Na
Case No. D2021-0022
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Carvana, LLC, United States of America, represented by Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, United States of America.
The Respondent is Whois Privacy Protection Foundation, the Netherlands / D.N, Deriok Na, Germany.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <carvana-co.com> (hereafter the “Disputed Domain Name”) is registered with Hosting Concepts B.V. d/b/a Openprovider (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 5, 2021. On January 6, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 6, 2021, 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 the Complainant on January 7, 2021 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on January 11, 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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on January 13, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was February 2, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 11, 2021.
The Center appointed Flip Jan Claude Petillion as the sole panelist in this matter on February 26, 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
The Complainant, Carvana, LLC, operates an e-commerce platform for buying and selling used cars and also offers extended warranty and gap insurance services for the vehicles it sells. The Complainant launched its business in 2013 and has sold over 175,000 cars throughout the United States in 2019.
The Complainant is the owner of several trademarks including the sign CARVANA, such as the following:
- CARVANA, United States word mark registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) on April 30, 2013, under number 4,328,785 in classes 35 and 36;
- United States figurative mark registered with the USPTO on April 21, 2020, under number 6,037,292 in classes 35, 36 and 39.
The Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Name on October 15, 2020. The Complainant provides a screen print dated October 27, 2020 of a website in German language that appeared to be linked to the Disputed Domain Name. This website mentions “Carvana Co Group” several times, as well as the sign CARVANA displayed in a way which corresponds to the Complainant’s figurative trademark as shown above. The Disputed Domain Name currently does not resolve to any website.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant considers the Disputed Domain Name to be confusingly similar to a trademark in which it claims to have rights. The Complainant further claims that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Name. According to the Complainant, the Respondent has not used the Disputed Domain Name in connection with a legitimate use. Also, according to the Complainant, the Respondent has not been commonly known by the Disputed Domain Name and is in no way affiliated with the Complainant. Finally, the Complainant claims that the Disputed Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. According to the Complainant, the Respondent registered and uses the Disputed Domain Name to intentionally attract visitors for commercial gain by creating confusion with the Complainant’s trademarks.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15 of the Rules provides that the Panel is to decide the Complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, the Rules, and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.
The onus is on the Complainant to make out his case and it is apparent, both from the terms of the Policy and the decisions of past UDRP panels, that the Complainant must show that all three elements set out in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been established before any order can be made to transfer the Disputed Domain Name. As the UDRP proceedings are administrative, the standard of proof is the balance of probabilities.
Thus, for the Complainant to succeed it must prove, within the meaning of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, that:
(i) The Disputed Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark 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.
The Panel will therefore deal with each of these requirements.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
To prove this element, the Complainant must first establish that there is a trademark or service mark in which it has rights. The Complainant has clearly established that there are trademarks in which it has rights. The Complainant’s CARVANA trademark has been registered and is being used in the United States in connection to the Complainant’s car selling and related services.
The assessment of identity or confusing similarity involves comparing the Disputed Domain Name and the textual components of the Complainant’s mark. To the extent that design (or figurative/stylized) elements would be incapable of representation in domain names, these elements are largely disregarded for purposes of assessing identity or confusing similarity under the first element (see section 1.10 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).
The Disputed Domain Name incorporates the Complainant’s CARVANA word mark in its entirety, simply adding a hyphen and the term “co”. CARVANA is also the obvious textual component of the Complainant’s figurative mark mentioned above under section 4. Where the relevant trademark is recognizable within the Disputed Domain Name, the addition of other (descriptive) terms would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity under the first element (see section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).
Additionally, it is well-established that the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”), here “.com”, may be disregarded when considering whether the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
In light of the above, the Panel considers the Disputed Domain Name to be confusingly similar to the Complainant’s CARVANA trademark.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, the Complainant has the burden of establishing that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Name.
As established by previous UDRP panels, it is sufficient for the Complainant to make a prima facie showing that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name in order to place the burden of production on the Respondent (see section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).
The Panel notes that the Respondent has not apparently been commonly known by the Disputed Domain Name and that the Respondent does not seem to have acquired trademark or service mark rights. According to the information provided by the Registrar, the Respondent is “D.N, Deriok Na”. The Respondent’s use and registration of the Disputed Domain Name was not authorized by the Complainant. There are no indications that a connection between the Complainant and the Respondent exists or existed.
Where a domain name consists of a trademark plus an additional term, UDRP panels have largely held that such composition cannot constitute fair use if it effectively impersonates or suggests sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark owner (see section 2.5.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0). The Disputed Domain Name incorporates the Complainant’s CARVANA trademark and simply adds a hyphen and the term “co”, which can refer to the common abbreviation of the word “company”. Therefore, the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Name carries a risk of implied affiliation with the Complainant.
Beyond looking at the domain name and the nature of any additional terms appended to it, UDRP panels assess whether the overall facts and circumstances of the case, such as the content of the website linked to the disputed domain name and the absence of a response, support a fair use or not (see sections 2.5.2 and 2.5.3 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).
Based on the evidence provided by the Complainant, the Panel observes that the Disputed Domain Name used to refer to website in German language mentioning “Carvana Co Group” several times, as well as the sign CARVANA stylized in a way which corresponds to the Complainant’s figurative trademark as shown above under section 4. In addition, the Panel observes that this website also showed a logo which is identical to the logo used by the Complainant on its official website. Finally, the website linked to the Disputed Domain Name appeared to offer services similar to the Complainant’s services. In the Panel’s view, this does not amount to a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Disputed Domain Name.
The Respondent had the opportunity to demonstrate its rights or legitimate interests but did not do so. In the absence of a Response from the Respondent, the prima facie case established by the Complainant has not been rebutted.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the Complainant has established that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name. In light of the above, the Complainant succeeds on the second element of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant must prove on the balance of probabilities both that the Disputed Domain Name was registered in bad faith and that it is being used in bad faith (see section 4.2 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 and, for example, Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003 and Control Techniques Limited v. Lektronix Ltd, WIPO Case No. D2006-1052).
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides a non-exclusive list of factors, any one of which may demonstrate bad faith. Among these factors demonstrating bad faith registration and use is the use of a domain name to intentionally attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to a website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the website or location or of a product or service on the website or location.
In the present case, the Panel finds that it is inconceivable that the Respondent was unaware of the Complainant and its trademark rights when it registered the Disputed Domain Name. The Disputed Domain Name includes the Complainant’s distinctive trademark in its entirety, and the website linked to the Disputed Domain Name even displayed a copy of the Complainant’s figurative trademark and a logo used on the Complainant’s official website. In the Panel’s view, the Respondent’s awareness of the Complainant’s trademark rights at the time of registration suggests bad faith (see Red Bull GmbH v. Credit du Léman SA, Jean-Denis Deletraz, WIPO Case No. D2011-2209; BellSouth Intellectual Property Corporation v. Serena, Axel, WIPO Case No. D2006-0007, where it was held that the respondent acted in bad faith when registering the disputed domain name, because widespread and long-standing advertising and marketing of goods and services under the trademarks in question, the inclusion of the entire trademark in the domain name, and the similarity of products implied by addition of a telecommunications services suffix (“voip”) suggested knowledge of the complainant’s rights in the trademarks).
The Respondent has used the Disputed Domain Name to redirect to a website, which appeared to offer services similar to the Complainant’s services. As mentioned above, this website included a copy of the Complainant’s figurative trademark and a logo used on the Complainant’s official website. In the Panel’s view, this indicates that the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract Internet users to its website for commercial gain by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark.
By failing to respond to the Complaint, the Respondent did not take any initiative to contest the foregoing. Pursuant to paragraph 14 of the Rules, the Panel may draw the conclusions it considers appropriate.
Therefore, the Panel finds that, on the balance of probabilities, it is established that the Disputed Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. In light of the above, the Complainant also succeeds on the third and last 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 <carvana-co.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Flip Jan Claude Petillion
Date: March 12, 2021