WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Sodexo v. Lloyd Group
Case No. D2021-1214
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Sodexo, France, represented by Areopage, France.
The Respondent is Lloyd Group, United Kingdom.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <sodesox.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 20, 2021. On April 20, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On April 21, 2021, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification 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 April 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 April 27, 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 April 28, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was May 18, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on May 21, 2021.
The Center appointed Willem J. H. Leppink as the sole panelist in this matter on May 27, 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 following facts are undisputed.
The Complainant is a French Company and is one of the largest companies in the world specialized in foodservices and facilities management, with 470,000 employees serving 100 million consumers in 67 countries. Under its trade name and mark SODEXO, the Complainant provides a wide range of services through an offer of on-site services, benefit and reward services as well as personal and home services.
The Complainant owns several trademark registrations comprising the word element SODEXO, including but not limited to, The European Union Trade Mark SODEXO (word mark), with registration no. 008346462, with a filing date of June 8, 2009 and with a registration date of February 1, 2010, for goods and services in classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 38, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, and 45, and the United States of America trademark SODEXO (device mark), with registration no. 964615, with a filing date of January 8, 2008 and with a registration date of December 8, 2009, for goods and services in classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 38, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, and 45 (hereinafter jointly referred to as the “Trademark”).
The Complainant is the owner of various domain names that incorporate the Trademark, including, inter alia, <sodexo.com> and <sodexo.fr>.
The Domain Name was registered on February 24, 2021, and at present does not resolve to any website.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Insofar as relevant for deciding this matter, the Complainant contends the following.
The Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Trademark. The signs are phonetically and visually very close. The only difference between the signs comes from the reversal of the last letters “x” and “o” and the addition of the letter “s” in the Domain Name. Such a difference may correspond to a misspelling of the mark SODEXO which can be made by an Internet user and is characteristic of typosquatting practice intended to create confusing similarity between the Trademark and the Domain Name. Also, a Google search with the term “sodesox” gives results related to SODEXO.
The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. The Respondent is not and has never been commonly known by the Domain Name. Moreover, the Respondent does not have any affiliation, association, sponsorship, or connection with the Complainant and has not been authorized, licensed, or otherwise permitted by the Complainant or by any subsidiary or affiliated company to register the concerned Domain Name and to use it.
The Domain Name was registered and has been used in bad faith. Because of the well-known character and reputation of the Trademark, the Respondent must have had knowledge of the Complainant’s Trademark and use in the market. Despite the non-active content on the website of the Domain Name, this does not prevent a finding of bad faith. The unauthorized registration of the Domain Name by the Respondent and its passive holding, likely in the aim of fraudulent uses, are for the purpose of commercial gain and then constitute bad faith registration and use.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Pursuant to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove each of the following three elements:
(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 must demonstrate that it has rights in a trademark or service mark and, if so, the Domain Name must be shown to be identical or confusingly similar to that mark.
The Complainant has shown that it has rights in the Trademark valid in various jurisdictions, including the European Union.
As set out in the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.7, the first element functions primarily as a standing requirement. The threshold test for confusing similarity between the Domain Name and the Trademark involves a side-by-side comparison of the domain name and the textual components of the relevant trademark to assess whether the mark is recognizable within the disputed domain name. According to the WIPO Overview 3.0, this may also include recognizability by technological means such as search engine algorithms.
The Panel finds that the Domain Name in confusingly similar to the Trademark, as required by the Policy. First of all, the Domain Name is phonetically and visually very similar to the Trademark. Further, the Panel agrees with the contention of the Complainant that the Domain Name must be intentionally misspelled by the Respondent. As set out in the WIPO Overview 3.0, section 1.9, a domain name which consists of a common, obvious, or intentional misspelling of a trademark is considered to be confusingly similar to the relevant mark for purposes of the first element. The only differences between the Domain Name and the Complainant’s name come from the reversal of the last letters “x” and “o” and the addition of the letter “s” in the Domain Name. This fulfills the fourth and fifth example given in the WIPO Overview 3.0, section 1.9 (see also Sanofi, Genzyme Corporation v. Domain Privacy, WIPO Case No. D2016-1193). In addition, a Google search affirms the afore-mentioned recognizability by technological means such as search engine algorithms.
In light of the foregoing, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Trademark.
Therefore, the Panel is satisfied that the first element of the Policy is met.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel has carefully considered the factual allegations that have been made by the Complainant and are supported by the submitted evidence.
In particular, the Respondent has failed to offer the Panel any of the types of evidence set forth in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy from which the Panel might conclude that the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name, such as:
(i) use or preparation to use the Domain Name or a name corresponding to the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services prior to notice of the dispute; or
(ii) being commonly known by the Domain Name (as an individual, business or other organization) even if the Respondent has not acquired any trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) making legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.
The Respondent does not seem to be affiliated with the Complainant in any way. There is no evidence that the term “sodesox” is the Respondent’s name or that the Respondent is commonly known under this name. There is also no evidence that the Respondent is, or has ever been, a licensee of the Complainant or that the Respondent has ever asked, or has ever been permitted in any way by the Complainant to register or use the Trademark, or to apply for or use any domain name incorporating the Trademark.
Furthermore, now that the Domain Name does not have any active content, and lacking any Response, the Panel concludes that the Respondent is not considering a bona fide offering of goods or services under the Domain Name, nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent cannot be said to have rights to or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.
Therefore, the Panel is satisfied that the second element of the Policy is met.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel finds that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Panel refers to its considerations under section 6.B and adds the following:
In light of the evidence filed by the Complainant, the Panel finds that the Trademark and the Complainant’s activities are well known throughout the world.
The well-known and worldwide reputation of the Complainant and its Trademark, the distinctiveness of the Trademark, and the fact that the Respondent did not file a response to the Complaint, are all circumstances from which the Panel draws the conclusion that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. Furthermore, the nature of the Domain Name, being a typo of Complainant’s widely-known Trademark, and the clear absence of any rights or legitimate interests by the Respondent coupled with no credible explanation for the Respondent’s choice of the Domain Name, support a finding of bad faith in this case. See section 3.2.1 of WIPO Overview 3.0.
Although there is in theory a possibility that Respondent has not been aware of the existence of the Complainant’s activities and rights at the time the Respondent registered the Domain Name and would not have had Complainant in mind when registering the Domain Name, the Panel on balance finds that here the Respondent must have registered the Domain Name in bad faith and takes into account (i) the passive holding of the Domain Name, (ii) the fact that the Respondent did not file a response to the Complaint, (iii) the fact that as Complainant stated a Google search for the Domain Name resulted in finding results for Complainant, and (iv) the address of Complainant is an apparently unrelated third party located in the United Kingdom. The Panel agrees with the Complainant that given the notoriety of the Trademark and the Complainant, there is a serious chance that the Domain Name might be use for phishing purposes.
As stated in section 3.3 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, panelists have found that the non-use of a domain name (including a blank or “coming soon” page) would not prevent a finding of bad faith under the doctrine of passive holding.
Therefore, the Panel is satisfied that the third element of the Policy is met.
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 <sodesox.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Willem J. H. Leppink
Date: June 7, 2021