WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. v. Pedro Morelos Cardio
Case No. D2021-2913
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Halliburton Energy Services, Inc., United States of America, represented by Polsinelli PC, United States of America.
The Respondent is Pedro Morelos Cardio, Mexico.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <halliburtonmx.com> is registered with IONOS SE (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 30, 2021. On September 6, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 19, 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 the Complainant on October 19, 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 amendment to the Complaint on October 22, 2021.
The Center also sent an email communication to the Parties on October 19, 2021 noting that even though the Complaint was submitted in English, the language of the registration agreement for the disputed domain name is Spanish. The Parties were required to comment on this fact. Accordingly, the Complainant sent on October 22 a request for English to be the language of the administrative proceedings. The Respondent did not provide any comment.
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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on October 26, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 15, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 17, 2021.
The Center appointed Edoardo Fano as the sole panelist in this matter on November 25, 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.
The Panel has not received any requests from the Complainant or the Respondent regarding further submissions, waivers or extensions of deadlines, and the Panel has not found it necessary to request any further information from the Parties.
Having reviewed the communication records in the case file provided by the Center, the Panel finds that the Center has discharged its responsibility under the Rules, paragraph 2(a), “to employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice to the Respondent”. Therefore, the Panel shall issue its Decision based upon the Complaint, the Policy, the Rules and the Supplemental Rules and without the benefit of a response from the Respondent.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is Halliburton Energy Services, Inc., a United States of America company operating in energy industry field that owns several trademark registrations for HALLIBURTON, including the following:
- United States of America trademark Registration No. 2,575,819 for HALLIBURTON, registered on June 4, 2002;
- Mexican trademark Registration No. 187798 for HALLIBURTON, registered on February 1, 1975.
The Complainant also operates on the Internet and owns several domain names for HALLIBURTON, including “www.halliburton.com” as its official website.
The Complainant provided evidence in support of the above.
According to the WhoIs records, the disputed domain name was registered on November 19, 2020 and it presently resolves to an inactive website. Before the Complaint was filed, the disputed domain name resolved to a website in which several kinds of vehicles were offered for sale under the trademark HALLIBURTON.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant states that the disputed domain name <halliburtonmx.com> is confusingly similar to its trademark HALLIBURTON, as the disputed domain name wholly contains the Complainant’s trademark with the addition of the letters “mx”.
Moreover, the Complainant asserts that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name since it has not been authorized by the Complainant to register the disputed domain name or to use its trademark within the disputed domain name, it is not commonly known by the disputed domain name, nor is it making a bona fide offering of goods or services or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
The Complainant submits that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name in bad faith, since the Complainant’s trademark HALLIBURTON is distinctive and internationally known in the energy industry field. Therefore, the Respondent targeted the Complainant’s trademark at the time of registration of the disputed domain name, with the purpose to exploit the Complainant’s rights, title, interest and goodwill in the trademark HALLIBURTON. The Complainant also contends that the actual passive holding of the disputed domain name qualifies as bad faith registration and use.
The Respondent has made no reply to the Complainant’s contentions and is in default. In reference to paragraphs 5(f) and 14 of the Rules, no exceptional circumstances explaining the default have been put forward or are apparent from the record.
A respondent is not obliged to participate in a proceeding under the Policy, but if it fails to do so, reasonable facts asserted by a complainant may be taken as true, and appropriate inferences, in accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, may be drawn (see, e.g., Reuters Limited v. Global Net 2000, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0441; Microsoft Corporation v. Freak Films Oy, WIPO Case No. D2003-0109; SSL International PLC v. Mark Freeman, WIPO Case No. D2000-1080; Altavista Company v. Grandtotal Finances Limited et. al., WIPO Case No. D2000-0848; Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, Caisse Fédérale du Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe v. Marketing Total S.A., WIPO Case No. D2007-0288).
6. Discussion and Findings
6.1 Language of Proceedings
According to paragraph 11(a) of the Rules, the Panel has decided that the language of the proceeding will be English. The language of the Registration Agreement is Spanish, however, the Panel considers appropriate to conduct the proceeding in a language other than that of the Registration Agreement, since the request to translate the Complaint into Spanish would be an unfair burden as well as an unnecessary delay for the Complainant. Furthermore, the Respondent received the case-related communications from the Center both in Spanish and English but did not comment to the Complainant’s request to use English and did not submit any reply. The Panel would have accepted a response in Spanish, but the Respondent did not file a response. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 4.5.
6.2 Substantive Issues
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists three elements, which the Complainant must satisfy in order to succeed:
(i) the disputed 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 disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the Complainant is the owner of the trademark HALLIBURTON both by registration and acquired reputation and that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the trademark HALLIBURTON.
Regarding the addition of the geographical code “mx”(as an abbreviation for “Mexico”), the Panel notes that it is now well established that the addition of descriptive or geographical terms or letters to a domain name does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the trademark (see, e.g., Aventis Pharma SA., Aventis Pharma Deutschland GmbH v. Jonathan Valicenti, WIPO Case No. D2005-0037; Red Bull GmbH v. Chai Larbthanasub, WIPO Case No. D2003-0709; America Online, Inc. v. Dolphin@Heart, WIPO Case No. D2000-0713). The addition of the letters “mx” does not therefore prevent the disputed domain name from being confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark. See “WIPO Overview 3.0”, section 1.8.
It is also well accepted that a generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”), in this case “.com”, may be ignored when assessing the similarity between a trademark and a domain name. See WIPO Overview 3.0, section 1.11.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has therefore met its burden of proving that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark, pursuant to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has failed to file a response in accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5.
The Complainant in its Complaint, and as set out above, has established a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. It asserts that the Respondent, who is not currently associated with the Complainant in any way, is not using the disputed domain name for a legitimate noncommercial or fair use or in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. The disputed domain name has been used for a website in which several kinds of vehicles were offered for sale.
The prima facie case presented by the Complainant is enough to shift the burden of production to the Respondent to demonstrate that it has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. However, the Respondent has not presented any evidence of any rights or legitimate interests it may have in the disputed domain name, and the Panel is unable to establish any such rights or legitimate interests on the basis of the evidence in front of it.
Moreover, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name carries a risk of implied affiliation as it effectively impersonates or suggests sponsorship or endorsement by the Complainant in relation to the Mexican market. See WIPO Overview 3.0., section 2.5.1.
The Panel therefore finds that paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy has been satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides that “[…] for the purposes of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:
(i) circumstances indicating that [the Respondent has] registered or has 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 the Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of its documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) that [the Respondent has] 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 [the Respondent has] engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) that [the Respondent has] registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) that by using the domain name, [the Respondent has] intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [the Respondent’s] 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 [the Respondent’s] website or location or of a product or service on [the Respondent’s] website or location”.
Regarding the registration in bad faith of the disputed domain name, the reputation of the Complainant’s trademark HALLIBURTON in the energy industry field is clearly established and the Panel finds that the Respondent likely knew of the Complainant and its trademark and deliberately registered the disputed domain name in bad faith.
As regards the previous use of the disputed domain name, the Panel finds that the Respondent’s attempt to pass off as the Complainant, with the purpose of intentionally attempting to create a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the disputed domain name’s source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement, consists of bad faith use of the disputed domain name.
As regards the current use of the disputed domain name, pointing to an error webpage, the Panel considers that bad faith may exist even in cases of so-called “passive holding”, as found in the landmark UDRP decision Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003. In the circumstances of this case, the Panel finds that such passive holding amounts to bad faith.
Furthermore, the Panel considers that the nature of the disputed domain name, which is almost identical to the Complainant’s trademark with the mere addition of a geographic code, further supports a finding of bad faith. See, WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.2.1.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has presented evidence to satisfy its burden of proof with respect to the issue of whether the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Panel therefore finds that paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy has been satisfied.
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 <halliburtonmx.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: November 30, 2021