WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Facebook, Inc. v. Randy Forrester, Med4Now

Case No. D2021-1739

1. The Parties

Complainant is Facebook, Inc., United States of America (“United States”), represented by Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP, France.

Respondent is Randy Forrester, Med4Now, United States.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <financefacebook.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 June 2, 2021. On June 3, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On June 4, 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 Complainant on June 7, 2021, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainant filed an amended Complaint on June 7, 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on June 11, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was July 1, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on July 2, 2021.

The Center appointed Kimberley Chen Nobles as the sole panelist in this matter on July 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

Complainant, Facebook, Inc., is a provider of online social-media and social networking services. Complainant has approximately 2.8 billion monthly active users and 1.84 billion daily active users on average, worldwide (as of December 31, 2020). Complainant operates its homepage at “www.facebook.com", and has 13.1 million followers on Twitter. It also promotes its services on pages at the following websites:

- “www.facebook.com/facebook”;
- “twitter.com/facebook”;
- “www.youtube.com/facebook”; and
- “www.linkedin.com/company/facebook”.

Complainant owns numerous trademark registrations for FACEBOOK in many jurisdictions throughout the world, for example:

- United States Trademark Registration No. 3041791, for FACEBOOK, registered on January 10, 2006;

- European Union Trade Mark No. 002483857, for FACEBOOK, registered on June 13, 2003; and

- International Registration No. 1280043, for FACEBOOK, registered on December 23, 2014.

The Domain Name was registered on November 13, 2019. At the time of the filing of the Complaint, the Domain Name resolved to an inactive page.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

Complainant contends that (i) the Domain Name is identical and confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademarks; (ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name; and (iii) Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith.

In particular, Complainant contends that it has trademark registrations for the FACEBOOK marks and own domain names incorporating the FACEBOOK marks. Complainant contend Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name to confuse Internet users looking for bona fide and well-known FACEBOOK products and services.

Complainant notes that it has no affiliation with Respondent, nor authorized Respondent to register or use a domain name, which includes Complainant’s marks, and that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the registration and use of the Domain Name. Rather, Complainant contends that Respondent has acted in bad faith in acquiring and setting up the Domain Name, when Respondent clearly knew of Complainant’s rights.

B. Respondent

Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, to succeed the Complainant must satisfy the Panel that:

(i) the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and

(ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and

(iii) the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith.

Section 4.3 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) states:

“Does a respondent’s default/failure to respond to the complainant’s contentions automatically result in the complaint succeeding?
Noting the burden of proof on the complainant, a respondent’s default (i.e., failure to submit a formal response) would not by itself mean that the complainant is deemed to have prevailed: a respondent’s default is not necessarily an admission that the complainant’s claims are true.”

Thus, although in this case Respondent has failed to respond to the Complaint, the burden remains with Complainant to establish the three elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy by a preponderance of the evidence. See, e.g., The Knot, Inc. v. In Knot We Trust LTD, WIPO Case No. D2006-0340.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Ownership of a trademark registration is generally sufficient evidence that a complainant has the requisite rights in a mark for purposes of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy. See WIPO Overview 3.0, section 1.2.1. Complainant provided evidence of their rights in the FACEBOOK marks, as noted above. Complainant has also submitted evidence, which supports that the FACEBOOK marks are widely known trademarks and a distinctive identifier of Complainant’s products and services. Complainant has therefore proven that it has the requisite rights in the FACEBOOK marks.

With Complainant’s rights in the FACEBOOK mark established, the remaining question under the first element of the Policy is whether the Domain Name, typically disregarding the Top-Level Domain (“TLD”) in which it is registered (in this case, “.com”), is identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark. See, e.g., B & H Foto & Electronics Corp. v. Domains by Proxy, Inc. / Joseph Gross, WIPO Case No. D2010‑0842.

Here, the Domain Name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s FACEBOOK marks. These marks, which are fanciful and inherently distinctive, are recognizable in the Domain Name. The incorporation of the FACEBOOK mark with the addition of the term “finance” before “facebook”, in the Domain Name does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between Complainant’s trademarks and the Domain Name registered by Respondent.

Thus, the Panel finds that Complainant has satisfied the first element of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, a complainant must make at least a prima facie showing that a respondent possesses no rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name. See, e.g., Malayan Banking Berhad v. Beauty, Success & Truth International, WIPO Case No. D2008-1393. Once a complainant makes such a prima facie showing, the burden of production shifts to the respondent, though the burden of proof always remains on the complainant. If the respondent fails to come forward with evidence showing rights or legitimate interests, the complainant will have sustained its burden under the second element of the UDRP.

From the record in this case, it is evident that Respondent was, and is, aware of Complainant and the FACEBOOK marks, and does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. Complainant has confirmed that Respondent is not affiliated with Complainant, or otherwise authorized or licensed to use the FACEBOOK trademarks or to seek registration of any domain name incorporating the trademarks. Respondent is also not known to be associated with or commonly known by the FACEBOOK marks.

In addition, Respondent has not used the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use. Rather, the evidence demonstrates that the Domain Name resolved to an inactive webpage. Such use does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use and cannot under the circumstances confer on Respondent any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. See, e.g., Intesa Sanpaolo S.p.A. v. Charles Duke / Oneandone Private Registration, WIPO Case No. D2013-0875. Moreover, there is no evidence showing that Respondent has been commonly known by the Domain Name.

Further, the nature of the Domain Name carries a risk of implied affiliation with Complainant (see WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.5.1).

Accordingly, Complainant has provided evidence supporting its prima facie claim that Respondent lacks any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. Respondent has failed to produce countervailing evidence of any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. Thus, the Panel concludes that Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name and Complainant has met its burden under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Panel finds that Respondent’s actions indicate that Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith.

Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides a non-exhaustive list of circumstances indicating bad faith registration and use on the part of a domain name registrant, namely:

“(i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out of pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or

(ii) you have registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your website or location or of a product or service on your website or location.”

The Panel finds that Complainant provided ample evidence to show that registration and use of the FACEBOOK marks long predate the registration of the Domain Name by Respondent, more specifically, the FACEBOOK marks, have been registered since at least as early as 2003, well before Respondent registered the Domain Name on November 13, 2019. Complainant is also well established and known. Indeed, the record shows that Complainant’s FACEBOOK marks and related services are widely known and recognized. Therefore, and also noting the composition of the Domain Name itself, Respondent was likely aware of the FACEBOOK marks when it registered the Domain Name, or knew or should have known that the Domain Name was identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s marks. See WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.2.2; see also TTT Moneycorp Limited v. Privacy Gods / Privacy Gods Limited, WIPO Case No. D2016-1973.

The Panel therefore finds that Respondent’s awareness of Complainant’s trademark rights at the time of registration suggests bad faith. See Red Bull GmbH v. Credit du Léman SA, Jean-Denis Deletraz, WIPO Case No. D2011-2209; Nintendo of America Inc v. Marco Beijen, Beijen Consulting, Pokemon Fan Clubs Org., and Pokemon Fans Unite, WIPO Case No. D2001-1070; BellSouth Intellectual Property Corporation v. Serena, Axel, WIPO Case No. D2006-0007.

Further, the registration of the Domain Name incorporating Complainant’s FACEBOOK mark with the addition of the term “finance”, suggests Respondent’s actual knowledge of Complainant’s rights in the FACEBOOK mark at the time of registration of the Domain Name and its effort to opportunistically capitalize on the registration and use of the Domain Name.

At the time of the filing of the Complaint, the Domain Name resolved to an inactive webpage. As discussed above, the Domain Name resolves to a webpage that diverts users to an inactive page. 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. See section 3.3 of the WIPO Overview 3.0. Here, the present circumstances, including the distinctiveness and reputation of the FACEBOOK marks, the failure of Respondent to submit a response or to provide any evidence of actual or contemplated good-faith use, and the implausibility of any good faith use to which the Domain Name may be put, support a finding of bad faith.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith and Complainant succeeds under the third element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.

7. Decision

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 <financefacebook.com> be transferred to Complainant.

Kimberley Chen Nobles
Sole Panelist
Date: July 22, 2021