WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Ford Motor Company v. Alfa Melnikova
Case No. D2021-0512
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Ford Motor Company, United States of America (“United States”), represented by Marval O’Farrell & Mairal, Argentina.
The Respondent is Alfa Melnikova, Ukraine.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <fordovalo.com> (the “Domain Name”) 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 February 18, 2021. On February 19, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On February 18, 2021, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the 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 21, 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 23, 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 March 11, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 31, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on April 1, 2021.
The Center appointed Ian Lowe as the sole panelist in this matter on April 9, 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 global automotive and mobility company and one of the biggest automotive companies in the world. Its business includes designing, manufacturing, marketing and servicing a full line of Ford cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles. The Complainant has manufacturing operations worldwide, including in the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom, and South America. In South America, its primary operations are in Argentina and Brazil. The Complainant has had a presence in Argentina for over 100 years where its affiliate company Plan Ovalo S.A. offers financing plans for the purchase of Ford vehicles.
The Complainant is the registered proprietor of numerous trademarks around the world comprising the FORD mark. These include United States trademark number 0643185 FORD registered on March 26, 1957 and United States trademark number 1399080 registered on July 1, 1986 in respect of its Ford Oval Design trademark.
The Domain Name was registered on June 28, 2020. It resolves to an active website showing substantial adult content.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to its FORD trademark, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name, and that the Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
For this Complaint to succeed in relation to the Domain Name the Complainant must prove that:
(i) the 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 Domain Name; and
(iii) the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has uncontested rights in the FORD trademark, both by virtue of its trademark registrations and as a result of the goodwill and reputation acquired through its use of the mark over very many years. Ignoring the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com”, the Domain Name comprises the entirety of the FORD trademark together with the Spanish language word “ovalo”, which translates as “oval” in English. In the view of the Panel, “ford” is the dominant portion of the Domain Name, and the addition of the word “ovalo”, alluding as it does to the Complainant’s Oval Design trademark, does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the Complainant’s mark and the Domain Name. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has made out a strong prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. The Respondent has used the Domain Name not in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, but for a website featuring adult content. The Respondent has chosen not to respond to the Complaint or to take any steps to counter the prima facie case established by the Complainant. The Panel cannot conceive of any legitimate reason for the Respondent to use the Domain Name for its adult content website. In the circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In the view of the Panel, given the nature of the Domain Name as indicated above, the Respondent is most likely to have had the Complainant and its rights in the FORD mark in mind when it registered the Domain Name. The Panel considers that the registration of such a domain name and the use of the Domain Name for a website comprising adult content, no doubt with a view to commercial gain, amounts to paradigm bad faith registration and use for the purposes of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <fordovalo.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: April 23, 2021