WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
AXA SA v. Whois Privacy, Private by Design, LLC / Stéphane Gbami Stéphane Gbami
Case No. D2021-0952
1. The Parties
Complainant is AXA SA, France (hereinafter “Complainant”), represented by Selarl Candé - Blanchard - Ducamp, France.
Respondent is Whois Privacy, Private by Design, LLC, United States of America / Stéphane Gbami Stéphane Gbami, Ivory Coast (hereinafter, jointly and severally, “Respondent”).
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <axa-group.live> is registered with Porkbun LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 30, 2021. On March 30, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On March 30, 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 Complainant on March 31, 2021, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on March 31, 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on April 1, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was April 21, 2021. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on April 22, 2021.
The Center appointed M. Scott Donahey as the sole panelist in this matter on April 29, 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
Complainant is a group of companies formed from a succession of mergers and acquisitions of large insurance companies from around the world. The trade name AXA was first used by Complainant in 1985. Complaint, Annex 5. The group of companies has since been referred to as the AXA Group, and Complainant is the holding company of the AXA Group. Complaint, Annex 6. AXA employs 153,000 employees worldwide, serving 105 million customers. Its three primary business involves property and casualty insurance, life insurance, and savings and asset management. Annexes 7 and 8. Complainant is present in more than 54 countries around the world. Complaint, Annex 5.
Complainant is the holder of several trademarks which include the AXA name. It holds an international trademark for AXA which it filed in December 1984 (Complaint, Annex 9), an EU trademark filed in December 2009 (Complaint, Annex 11), and French trademarks for AXA and GROUP AXA, filed in January 1984 (Annexes 12 and 13). Complainant also owns domain names which incorporate AXA, including <axa.com>, registered on October 23, 1995, and <axa.net>, registered on November 1, 1997.
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on January 21, 2021. Respondent has been using the disputed domain name for phishing purposes, targeting AXA’s customers by sending emails allegedly from “[name redacted]@axa-group.live” in order to collect data from them. Complaint, Annex 19.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s registered trademarks. Complainant asserts that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, in that Complainant has never licensed or permitted Respondent to use Complainant’s registered trademarks, that Respondent has not been commonly known by the domain name and is not making a fair use of the mark without intent for commercial gain. Complainant alleges that Respondent is using the disputed domain name for phishing purposes, sending emails to Complainant’s customers.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 15 of the Rules, “[a] Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable”.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that the complainant must prove each of the following:
(i) that the domain name registered by the respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
(ii) that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name consists of the letters “axa”, which exactly corresponds to Complainant’s trademarks, separated by a hyphen from the word “group”. The group of companies Complainant operates is commonly known as the “AXA Group”. The term “axa-group” is appended to the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.live”. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademarks.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
While the overall burden of proof in UDRP proceedings is on the complainant, UDRP panels have recognized that proving a respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in a domain name may result in the almost 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. WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 2.1.
In the present case, Complainant alleges that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name and Respondent has failed to assert any such rights. Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Respondent has been using the disputed domain name in contacting Complainant’s customers, using the signature of Complainant’s agent, and purporting to come from “[name redacted]@axa-group.live”. Respondent attempts to establish a relationship with Complainant’s customers by pretending to be an employee of Complainant. Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name 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 disputed domain name <axa-group.live> be transferred to Complainant.
M. Scott Donahey
Date: May 5, 2021