WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

CNO Financial Group, Inc. v. Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 1248260556 / Name Redacted

Case No. D2021-0351

1. The Parties

The Complainant is CNO Financial Group, Inc., United States of America (“United States”), represented by Ice Miller LLP, United States.

The Respondent is Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 1248260556, Canada / Name Redacted.1

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <cnoinc.group> is registered with Google LLC (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 4, 2021. On February 5, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On February 5, 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 February 8, 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 February 10, 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 February 11, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 3, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 4, 2021.

The Center appointed David Taylor as the sole panelist in this matter on March 16, 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

Incorporated in 1979, the Complainant is a financial services holding company based in the United States. The Complainant, together with its subsidiaries, provides insurance services to over 4 million customers in the United States.

For use in connection with its provision of financial services, the Complainant, through its wholly-owned subsidiary CDOC Inc.,2 is the owner of a number of trademark registrations, including:

- United States Trademark Registration No. 3849349, CNO, registered on December 21, 2010; and

- United States Trademark Registration No. 3932012, CNO FINANCIAL GROUP, registered on March 15, 2011.

The Complainant owns the domain name <cnoinc.com>, from which it operates its corporate website.

The disputed domain name was registered on September 21, 2020. The disputed domain name does not appear to have been used in connection with an active website.

On January 28, 2021, the Complainant’s representatives sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Respondent, via the privacy service with which the disputed domain name was registered, requesting, inter alia, transfer of the disputed domain name. The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s cease-and-desist letter.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant asserts rights in the CNO and CNO FINANCIAL GROUP trademarks. The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its trademarks.

The Complainant submits that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Complainant asserts that the Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant, nor has the Respondent received any permission to make use of the Complainant’s trademarks. The Complainant notes that the disputed domain name does not resolve to an active website, and argues that such non-use does not give rise to any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Complainant submits that the Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name. In this regard, the Complainant notes that the Respondent has made use of a privacy service to mask its identity, and appears to have provided the name of a senior officer of the Complainant as the underlying registrant.

The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant notes that the registration of its CNO and CNO FINANCIAL GROUP trademarks predates the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name by many years. The Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name creates confusion with the Complainant’s trademarks, as well as the Complainant’s official domain name <cnoinc.com>, from which the Complainant infers that the Respondent had knowledge of the Complainant when registering the disputed domain name. The Complainant argues that the Respondent most likely registered the disputed domain name in order to engage in phishing. The Complainant submits that the Respondent’s efforts to impersonate the Complainant support a finding that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name to engage in fraudulent acts. The Complainant asserts that the Respondent has ignored the Complainant’s pre-Complaint attempts to resolve the present dispute, and submits that the Respondent’s failure to reply to the Complainant’s cease-and-desist letter further support a finding of bad faith.

The Complainant requests transfer of the disputed domain name.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

In order to prevail, the Complainant is required to demonstrate, on the balance of probabilities, that it has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy:

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

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

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

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel finds that the Complainant has established rights in the CNO and CNO FINANCIAL GROUP trademarks, the registration details of which are provided in the factual background section above.

The disputed domain name comprises the Complainant’s CNO trademark as its leading element, followed by the element “inc”, under the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.group”. The Panel finds that the addition of the element “inc” does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s trademark, which remains recognizable as the leading element of the disputed domain name. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.8; see also Sempra Energy Corporation v. Lay Coon, WIPO Case No. D2020-2871 (“The addition of the abbreviation ‘inc’ does not serve to distinguish the Domain Name [<sempraenergyinc.com>] from the SEMPRA ENERGY Mark”).

The Panel finds the disputed domain name to be confusingly similar to the Complainant’s CNO trademark. The Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

As stated in WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.1:

“While the overall burden of proof in UDRP proceedings is on the complainant, panels have recognized that proving a respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in a domain name may result in the often impossible task of ‘proving a negative’, requiring information that is often primarily within the knowledge or control of the respondent. As such, where a complainant makes out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, the burden of production on this element shifts to the respondent to come forward with relevant evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If the respondent fails to come forward with such relevant evidence, the complainant is deemed to have satisfied the second element.”

The Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant, nor has it received any authorization of any kind to make use of the Complainant’s trademarks, as part of a domain name or otherwise.

At the time of submission of the Complaint to the Center, the disputed domain name did not resolve to an active website, and there is no evidence of any other use of the disputed domain name on the part of the Respondent. There is no evidence of the Respondent having used the disputed domain name in connection with any bona fide offering of goods or services as contemplated by paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy.

The Respondent registered the disputed domain name using a privacy service. The underlying registrant details list the name of a senior officer of the Complainant. There is nothing in the record of the present case to suggest that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name within the meaning of paragraph 4(c)(ii) of the Policy.

The apparent non-use of the disputed domain name does not amount to legitimate noncommercial or fair use pursuant to paragraph 4(c)(iii) of the Policy. Moreover, the composition of the disputed domain name itself, differing from the Complainant’s official domain name only in terms of the applicable gTLD, carries with it a high risk of implied affiliation with the Complainant. Prior UDRP panels have held that such composition cannot constitute fair use of it effectively impersonates or suggests sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark owner; see WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.5.1.

The Panel finds that the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent has not come forward with any assertions or allegations to rebut the Complainant’s prima facie case.

The Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The registration of the Complainant’s CNO and CNO FINANCIAL GROUP trademarks predates the registration of the disputed domain name by several years. The Panel infers, from the composition of the disputed domain name, which mirrors the domain name of the Complainant, <cnoinc.com>, that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant, its trademarks, and its domain name when registering the disputed domain name. The Panel further notes that the Respondent appears to have provided the name of a senior officer of the Complainant as the underlying registrant of the disputed domain name. The Panel finds it more likely than not that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name opportunistically in order to create a misleading impression of association between the disputed domain name and the Complainant.

The Panel further finds that the apparent non-use of the disputed domain name would not prevent a finding of bad faith. See WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.3; see also Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003.

The Complainant is a publicly-traded company, providing insurance services to over 4 million customers in the United States. The Complainant has produced evidence of its widespread reputation as a financial services provider. The Complainant’s trademarks appear to be widely known in the sector in which the Complainant operates. The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s cease-and-desist letter, nor has the Respondent come forward to submit a Response to the Complaint. As such, the Respondent has not provided any evidence of actual or contemplated good-faith use of the disputed domain name. The Respondent registered the disputed domain name using a privacy service to conceal its identity, and has provided the name of a senior officer of the Complainant as the underlying registrant. Noting the degree of similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s official domain name, the Panel is unable to conceive of any good-faith use to which the disputed domain name could be put. Rather, the disputed domain name could easily be used by the Respondent as part of a phishing campaign in an effort to impersonate the Complainant, or for other fraudulent online activities. As such, the Panel finds that the Respondent’s apparent passive holding of the disputed domain name amounts to use of the disputed domain name in bad faith.

The Panel finds that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant has satisfied the requirements of 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 <cnoinc.group> be transferred to the Complainant.

David Taylor
Sole Panelist
Date: March 31, 2021


1 The Respondent appears to have provided the name of a senior officer of the Complainant as the underlying registrant of the disputed domain name. In light of this, the Panel believes that no purpose can be served by including the named Respondent in this Decision, and has therefore redacted the Respondent’s name from the caption and body of this Decision. The Panel has, however, attached as Annex 1 to this Decision an instruction to the Registrar regarding the transfer of the disputed domain name that includes the named Respondent, and has authorized the Center to transmit Annex 1 to the Registrar as part of the order in this proceeding. The Panel has further directed the Center, pursuant to paragraph 4(j) of the Policy and paragraph 16(b) of the Rules, that Annex 1 to this Decision shall not be published due to exceptional circumstances. See Banco Bradesco S.A. v. FAST-12785241 Attn. Bradescourgente.net / Name Redacted, WIPO Case No. D2009-1788.

2 A trademark owner’s affiliate such as a subsidiary of a parent or of a holding company, or an exclusive trademark licensee, is considered to have rights in a trademark under the UDRP for purposes of standing to file a complaint. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.4.