WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Sodexo v. Bucma Intergerated
Case No. D2021-1730
1. The Parties
Complainant is Sodexo, France (hereinafter, “Complainant”), represented by Areopage, France.
Respondent is Bucma Intergerated, Nigeria (hereinafter, “Respondent”).
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <sodxeo.com> 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 June 2, 2021. On June 2, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On June 3, 2021, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details.
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 formally notified Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on June 30, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was July 20, 2021. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on August 4, 2021.
The Center appointed M. Scott Donahey as the sole panelist in this matter on August 12, 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 French company, founded in 1966 and now one of the largest companies in the world specialized in food services and facilities management. Complainant employs some 430,000 employees and serves 100 million consumers in 64 countries. For the fiscal year 2020, Complainant’s consolidated revenues from around the world totaled 19.3 billion Euros. Complaint, Annexes 3 and 4. It is listed in Fortune Magazine as one of the world’s Most Admired Companies.
Complainant’s services include restaurant and catering services, facility management service, and workplace services, including reception services, technical management and repair services, housekeeping, security, laundry, waste management and space management.
From 1966 to 2008 Complainant promoted its business under the SODEXHO trademark. In 2008, Complainant simplified the spelling of its name to SODEXO, and began its registration of the SODEXO trademarks.
Complainant also owns numerous domain names registered with national and international trademark authorities around the world, including <sodexo.com>, <sodexo.fr>, and <sodexousa.com> among others. Complaint.
Complainant also owns numerous registrations of its SODEXO trademark in international and national trademark registries around the world including in Nigeria, which Respondent gives as its national residence. Annexes 5 to 13.
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on February 5, 2021. Respondent is not currently using the disputed domain name on the Internet.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its registered SODEXO trademark. Complainant contends that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. Complainant argues that Respondent’s non-use of the disputed domain name is in bad faith, since there is no conceivable legitimate use to which the domain name could be used.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
“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 includes all the letters in Complainant’s trademarked service business name transposing only two of the letters, the “e” and the “x”: thus Complainant’s fanciful registered trademark SODEXO becomes in the disputed domain name <sodxeo.com> (emphasis added). The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s registered trademark.
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
Currently, Respondent has made no use of the disputed domain name. However, the absence of use has long been held to be in bad faith when one cannot conceive of a legitimate use to which the disputed domain name could be put which would not constitute a use in bad faith. It has been held, virtually from the first cases decided under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, that the passive holding of a domain name for which one cannot conceive can be used on the Internet without violating the rights of a trademark holder constitutes a registration and use in bad faith. In other words, the legitimate holder of a distinctive trademark does not have to wait until the registrant of a disputed domain name actually uses the domain name to profit from the confusion its use would create in order to bring and to prevail in a domain name case under the policy. See, e.g., Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003. The Panel finds that the domain name in the present case 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 disputed domain name <sodxeo.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
M. Scott Donahey
Date: August 12, 2021