WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Equifax Inc. v. Jaewan Lee
Case No. D2021-1628
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Equifax Inc., United States of America (“United States”), represented by The GigaLaw Firm, Douglas M. Isenberg, Attorney at Law, LLC, United States.
The Respondent is Jaewan Lee, Republic of Korea.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <equlfax.com> is registered with Inames Co., Ltd. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 26, 2021. On the same date, the Center transmitted to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On May 28, 2021, the Registrar transmitted to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details.
On June 1, 2021, the Center notified the Parties, in both English and Korean, that the Complaint was submitted in English, and that according to the Registrar, the language of the registration agreement for the disputed domain name is Korean. In the same notification, the Center requested the Complainant to provide, by June 4, 2021:
“1) satisfactory evidence of an agreement between the Complainant and the Respondent to the effect that the proceedings should be in English; or
2) … the Complaint translated into Korean; or …
3) … a request for English to be the language of the administrative proceedings.”
To the Respondent, the Center stated that “if the Respondent is intending to participate in these proceedings, and/or has any comments on the Complainant’s submission replying to this notification, the Respondent is requested to submit these to the Center by June 6, 2021.” The Center also advised the Respondent:
“Specifically in the case of the Complainant submitting (or indicating that it will submit) a request for the language of proceedings to be English, and the Respondent objects to such request, the Respondent is invited to indicate that objection for the record, and to submit any arguments/supporting materials … as to why the proceedings should not be conducted in English.
Please note that if we do not hear from you by [June 6, 2021], we will proceed on the basis that you have no objection to the Complainant’s request that English be the language of proceedings.”
On June 2, 2021, the Complainant informed the Center of its request that English be the language of the proceeding. The Respondent did not submit any material regarding the language of the proceeding.
The Center verified that 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, again both in English and Korean, formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceeding commenced on June 16, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for the Response was July 6, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, on August 2, 2021, the Center notified the Respondent’s default.
The Center appointed Professor Ilhyung Lee as the sole panelist in this matter on August 5, 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 describes itself as “a leading global provider of information solutions and human resources business process outsourcing services for businesses, governments and consumers.” Its operations include “a credit reporting service that provides consumers with a summary of their credit history … reported to credit bureaus by lenders and creditors.” The Complainant has obtained registrations of various marks for EQUIFAX in over fifty countries, including the United States (registration no. 1,027,544 for EQUIFAX, registered on December 16, 1975), and the Republic of Korea (registration no. 85146 for EQUIFAX, registered on April 7, 2003). The Complainant also registered the domain name <equifax.com> on February 21, 1995.
The Respondent registered the disputed domain name <equlfax.com> on April 26, 2009. The disputed domain name resolves to an inactive website.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends principally that: (i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a 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 has been registered and is being used in bad faith. In addition, the Complaint states, inter alia:
“[T]he EQUIFAX Trademark ‘has a strong reputation and is widely known,’….”
“Complainant has never assigned, granted, licensed, sold, transferred or in any way authorized the Respondent to register or use the EQUIFAX Trademark in any manner.”
“Respondent is a serial cybersquatter ….” (emphasis in original)
“Respondent is using the Disputed Domain Name in connection with a ‘spear phishing’ attack impersonating an employee of Complainant.”
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions. Under paragraphs 5(f) and 14(a) of the Rules, the Panel may decide the dispute based on the Complaint. Paragraph 14(b) allows the Panel to draw appropriate inferences from the Respondent’s default.
6. Discussion and Findings
The Panel must initially address the language of the proceeding.
Paragraph 11(a) of the Rules provides that the language of the registration agreement is the language of the administrative proceeding, unless otherwise agreed by the parties or specified in the registration agreement. This provision also states that the determination of the proper language is “subject to the authority of the Panel …, having regard to the circumstances of the administrative proceeding.” Here, the language of the registration agreement is Korean; nevertheless, the Complainant requests that English be the language of the proceeding.
After receiving the Complaint in English, the Center notified the Parties, in both English and Korean, of the Center’s procedural rules regarding the language of the proceeding. In requesting that English be the language of the proceeding, the Complainant notes that the disputed domain name has been used by the Respondent in connection with phishing emails in English text, and that panels in previous UDRP decisions involving the Respondent “have found English to be the appropriate language for a proceeding.” The Center informed the Respondent that it may object timely to a proceeding conducted in English. The Respondent did not respond to the Center’s notification, and has defaulted. Under these circumstances, there is little point in requiring that this proceeding be in Korean. The Panel decides that English is the language of this proceeding.
On the merits, in order to prevail, the Complainant must satisfy each of the three elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel concludes that the disputed domain name <equlfax.com> is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which the Complainant has rights (EQUIFAX). The Complainant has provided ample evidence that it has rights in the EQUIFAX mark. The generic Top-Level Domain, “.com”, a technical requirement of a domain name, is not considered in determining identicality or confusing similarity. WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.11.1. The disputed domain name differs from the Complainant’s mark only in that the letter “l” in <equlfax.com> replaces the “i” in “equifax”. Even with this misspelling, Internet users could quite easily see the Complainant’s mark in the disputed domain name.
The first element is established.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant states that it has not authorized the Respondent to use the “EQUIFAX” name, and has met its initial burden of making a prima facie showing that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. The burden shifts to the Respondent to demonstrate any such rights or legitimate interests. Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides a non-exhaustive list of circumstances that may demonstrate the Respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
The Respondent has defaulted. Ultimately, the Panel is unable to ascertain any evidence that would demonstrate the Respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, as described in the Policy, or otherwise.
The second element is also satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, the Complainant must show that the disputed domain name “has been registered and is being used in bad faith.” Paragraph 4(b) provides a non-exhaustive list of circumstances that can satisfy this element.
In the Panel’s assessment of the bad faith element, the nature of the disputed domain name, namely, a typographical error of a well-known mark, is significant. As the panel observed in National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, Inc., d/b/a Minor League Baseball v. John Zuccarini, WIPO Case No. D2002-1011, “Typosquatting is inherently parasitic and of itself evidence of bad faith.”
Moreover, as the Complainant avers, the Respondent used the disputed domain name for a “spear phishing” attack. The Complaint states that spear phishing “is the act of sending … emails to specific and well-researched targets while purporting to be a trusted sender. The aim is to either infect devices with malware or convince victims to hand over information or money.”1 Here, the Respondent – using an email address incorporating the name of an officer of the Complainant plus the disputed domain name “...@equlfax.com” – sent an email message to an employee of the Complainant. The message reads, “Got a moment? Give me your cell number to text you as I need you to complete a task for me.” This brazen attempt to elicit information from an employee of the Complainant while impersonating an officer of the Complainant is evidence of bad faith.
Further, the disputed domain name resolves to an inactive site.2 Under the circumstances, the Respondent’s passive holding of the disputed domain name does not prevent a finding of bad faith. WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.3.
The third element is present.
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 <equlfax.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: August 19, 2021
1 Quoted from www.csoonline.com/article/3334617/what-is-spear-phishing-why-targeted-email-attacks-are-so-difficult-to-stop.html.
2 The webpage begins, “This site can’t be reached.” Quite aptly, the page also states: “Check if there is a typo in equlfax.com.”