WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Ford Motor Company v. Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC / Carolina Rodrigues, Fundacion Comercio Electronico

Case No. D2021-0079

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Ford Motor Company, United States of America (“United States” or “U.S.”), represented by Phillips Winchester Attorneys at Law, United States.

The Respondent is Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC, United States / Carolina Rodrigues, Fundacion Comercio Electronico, Panama.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <fordmotocredit.com> is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 12, 2021. On January 12, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 13, 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 13, 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 amendment to the Complaint on January 18, 2021.

The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to 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 January 20, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was February 9, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 10, 2021.

The Center appointed Nayiri Boghossian as the sole panelist in this matter on February 18, 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 is a leading automotive company with operations in many parts of the world and with a history dating back to the early 20th century. The Complainant’s trademark FORD has been used since 1895 and is a trademark known worldwide.

The Complainant owns the U.S. Registration No. 74530, registered on July 20, 1909, for the trademark FORD, as well as U.S. Registration No. 643185 registered on March 26, 1957.

Ford Motor Credit Company is a subsidiary of the Complainant, which provides automotive financing and has an official website under the domain name <fordcredit.com>. FORD CREDIT is registered under U.S. Registration No. 3738185, registered on January 12, 2010.

The disputed domain name was registered on July 10, 2020, and has been used with respect of a malware that redirects the Internet user to websites that the user did not intend to visit. An email server is set up for the disputed domain name and the disputed domain name is advertised for sale.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name consists of a misspelling of Ford Motor Credit, which combines the trademarks FORD and FORD CREDIT, and is confusingly similar to the company names Ford Motor Company and Ford Motor Credit Company LLC.

The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not known by the disputed domain name, has not been authorized to use the Complainant’s trademarks, has no connection or affiliation with the Complainant and has not made a bona fide use of the disputed domain name. The disputed domain name is being used to distribute malware and to redirect users to the Complainant’s own websites or those of competitors. There is also no demonstrable preparation to use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.

The Complainant’s trademark FORD is world famous and was registered far before the registration of the disputed domain name. The Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant’s trademark. The use of the disputed domain name to distribute malware is evidence of bad faith. Also, it is an indication of bad faith that the disputed domain name redirects users to the websites belonging to the Complainant or to competitors’ websites. Lastly, the offering of a domain name for sale at a price that far exceeds the out-of-pocket costs is an indication of bad faith.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has established its ownership of the trademarks FORD and FORD CREDIT.

The disputed domain name comprises the Complainant’s trademarks FORD and FORD CREDIT in their entirety. The addition of the descriptive term “moto” does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity as it does not prevent the Complainant’s trademark from being recognizable in the disputed domain name. The generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com”, should typically be ignored when assessing confusing similarity, as established by prior UDRP decisions.

Consequently, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the trademarks of the Complainant and that the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Panel finds that the Complainant has made a prima facie showing that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, by demonstrating that the Respondent is not using or preparing to use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services as the disputed domain name has been used to spread malware and to redirect users to the websites of the Complainant’s competitors. It is clear that the Respondent is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name but using it for the above purposes. The Complainant has also made it clear that it has never authorized the use of its trademarks in the disputed domain name.

The Respondent has not provided evidence of circumstances of the types specified in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, or of any other circumstances, giving rise to rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

Consequently, the Panel finds that the Complainant has met the requirement under the Policy of showing that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Accordingly, the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant’s trademark FORD is a well-known trademark and was registered for more than a century prior to the registration of the disputed domain name. Furthermore, the disputed domain name directs users to the websites of the Complainant and those of its competitors. Accordingly, the Respondent must have been fully aware of the Complainant and its trademark when it registered the disputed domain name. The Respondent is using the disputed domain name in bad faith as the Respondent has been spreading malware as per the evidence on file. Additionally, the Respondent’s use of a privacy service in the above circumstances further supports an inference of bad faith. Lastly, offering the disputed domain name for sale for an amount far exceeding out-of-pocket costs is an indication of bad faith.

Such conduct falls squarely within the concept of registration and use in bad faith of the Policy, and accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied 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 <fordmotocredit.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Nayiri Boghossian
Sole Panelist
Date: March 4, 2020