WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Nordic Capital Cooperation Group Limited v. Vijay Singha
Case No. D2021-0161
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Nordic Capital Cooperation Group Limited, United Kingdom, represented by Bird & Bird LLP, United Kingdom.
The Respondent is Vijay Singha, India.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <nordicapital.com> is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 20, 2021. On January 20, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 20, 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 22, 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 25, 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 27, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was February 16, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 22, 2021.
The Center appointed Anne Gundelfinger as the sole panelist in this matter on March 1, 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 Nordic Capital Cooperation Group Limited, a holding company that is an indirect owner in a number of Nordic Capital managed structures and part of the Nordic Capital group of companies. Founded in 1989, the Complainant is one of the longest established and most active private equity firms in Europe, focusing on selected sectors such as Healthcare, Technology & Payments, Financial Services, and Industrial & Business Services. Since its inception, the Complainant has invested EUR 16 billion in over 110 companies around the world and recently raised over EUR 6,1 billion in capital commitments via its most recent fund, principally provided by international institutional investors such as pension funds. The Complainant has seven offices across Europe and eight in the United States, plus fund operations offices in both Jersey and Luxembourg.
The Complainant is the owner of the NORDIC CAPITAL name and mark (the “Mark”), including the following registrations:
- European Union trademark NORDIC CAPITAL No. 017878455 registered on August 2, 2018 in International Classes 35 and 36; and
- United Kingdom trademark NORDIC CAPITAL No. UK00003298236 registered on June 22, 2018 in International Classes 35 and 36.
The Complainant is the owner of the domain names <nordiccapital.com> and <nordicccapital.com> and operates its corporate website at “www.nordiccapital.com.”
The disputed domain name <nordicapital.com> was registered by the Respondent on December 1, 2019, using a cloaking service. At the time of the initiation of this proceeding, the disputed domain name resolved to a website impersonating the Complainant, as discussed more fully below. At the time of this writing the disputed domain name resolves to an error page.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that it has built up enormous goodwill and reputation in the NORDIC CAPITAL Mark in the private equity sector. By way of illustration, as well as receiving various industry awards over the years, the Complainant was the winner of the Private Equity International Operational Excellence award on six separate occasions, winning the award in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019. Further, the Complainant’s investment professionals have featured for the last eight years in the list of the 25 “Rising Stars of European Private Equity”, an annual list compiled by Financial News and Private Equity News. In addition, Kristoffer Melinder, the Complainant’s managing partner, has been named twice as one of the most influential people in European private equity.
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. In support of these contentions, the Complainant has submitted substantial, persuasive, and uncontested evidence that, at the time of initiation of these proceedings, the website the Respondent hosted at the disputed domain name fraudulently impersonated the Complainant’s website by:
(a) using the NORDIC CAPITAL Mark as the branding for the website;
(b) providing contact information using a NORDIC CAPITAL-based name of one of the Complainant’s now-dissolved affiliate companies, using the company registration number of a dissolved cleaning company in the West Midlands of England, using a Financial Conduct Authority registration number of a different business in Portugal, and using a central London address that appears legitimate but does not exist; and
(c) displaying investment-related content copied from the website of Crux Asset Management including inter alia Crux Asset Management’s phone number and copied biographies of Crux Asset Management personnel.
Based on the foregoing, the Complainant argues the Respondent is attempted to hide its identity while simultaneously creating the false impression that the Respondent is a legitimate authorized business, namely that of the Complainant, and did so only for some illegitimate fraudulent purpose.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that the Complainant prove the following three elements to be successful in this action: (i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to trademarks or service marks 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.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s established NORDIC CAPITAL Mark, as well as its corporate domain name <nordiccapital.com>, with the exception that the disputed domain name drops one of the two “c”s. Such a minor alteration is insignificant, doing nothing to obviate the confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the NORDIC CAPITAL Mark. Indeed, this appears to be a clear case of “typosquatting.” Panels have consistently found slightly misspelled domain names to be confusingly similar to the mark in question for purposes of the first element under the Policy. See, section 1.9 of WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) and cases cited therein.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s Mark under the requirements of the Policy, and that the first element of the test is satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
It is well established that a complainant must present a prima facie case in relation to the second element of the test, not mere allegations. Once a prima facie showing is made, the burden of production shifts to the respondent to come forward with evidence of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. This burden-shifting is appropriate given that the respondent is often the only party with access to evidence of its own rights or legitimate interests. Given this, where a respondent fails to file a response, a panel may draw inferences from the failure to respond as appropriate under the circumstances of the case and while still weighing all available evidence irrespective of whether a response is filed. See, section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 and cases cited therein. See also, Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455.
Here the Complainant has averred that it did not authorize the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name and that the Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant. The Complainant further argues that the Respondent is not using the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services, but instead is hosting a false and misleading website under the Complainant’s branding, a use which clearly does not confer rights or represent a legitimate interest.
The Panel agrees with the Complainant. Hosting a website that falsely impersonates the website of the Complainant using false contact and regulatory information, as well as copied content, does not and cannot confer rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name. See, section 2.13 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 and cases cited therein. Accordingly, based on the substantial evidence submitted by the Complainant, and in the absence of countervailing evidence from the Respondent, the Panel concludes that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and that the second element of the test is satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The third element of the test requires a showing that the disputed domain name has been registered and used in bad faith. Here the Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name to host a website that impersonated the Complainant’s website, exploited the Complainant’s NORDIC CAPITAL Mark, and displayed false and fraudulent information, as described in detail above. Given the content of the Respondent’s website under the disputed domain name, there can be no question that the Respondent targeted the Complainant’s Mark and sought intentionally to create a likelihood of confusion. To what precise end, we do not know – perhaps phishing or fraudulently gathering fees or for some other illegitimate purpose. However, there can be no doubt the Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith as there is no conceivable good faith justification for the false and misleading content found at the website under the disputed domain name. See, paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the UDRP; and sections 3.1.1 and 3.1.4 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 and cases cited therein.
Finally, the Respondent’s use of a cloaking service raises an inference of and further supports a finding of bad faith registration under these circumstances. See, section 3.6 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 and cases cited therein.
Accordingly, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name was registered and has been used in bad faith, and that the third element of the test is satisfied.
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 <nordicapital.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: March 15, 2021