WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Government Employees Insurance Company (“GEICO”) v. Walter Lara, Chi Networks

Case No. D2021-3144

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Government Employees Insurance Company (“GEICO”), United States of America (“United States”), represented by Burns & Levinson LLP, United States.

The Respondent is Walter Lara, Chi Networks, United States.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <geicohomebuyer.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with GoDaddy.com (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 23, 2021. On September 24, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On September 24, 2021, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the 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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on September 30, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 20, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 21, 2021.

The Center appointed Michelle Brownlee as the sole panelist in this matter on November 10, 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 owns registrations for the trademark GEICO in connection with insurance services, including United States Registration Numbers 763,274 and 2,601,179, registered on January 14, 1964 and July 30, 2002 respectively, and International Registration Number 1178718, registered on September 4, 2013.

The Domain Name was registered on August 2, 2021. The Domain Name resolves to a registrar parking page comprising pay-per-click links.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant states that it is an internationally well-known insurance provider which has provided its insurance services throughout the United States under the trademark GEICO since at least as early as 1948. The Complainant states that its services include insurance brokerage and underwriting for automobiles, motorcycles, homeowners, renters, condominiums, mobile homes, commercial properties, overseas travel, floods and boats. The Complainant states that it has over 17 million policies, insures more than 28 million vehicles, has more than 40,000 employees, and is one of the fastest-growing auto insurers in the United States. The Complainant states that it promotes its GEICO trademark extensively via its website at “www.geico.com” and various social media platforms.

The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s GEICO trademark, that the Respondent has no rights to or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name, and that the Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith. The Complainant has presented evidence that the Domain Name resolves to a parked page that contains search results relating to home mortgages, such as “Mortgage Refinance Companies” and “Home Loan Refinance Rates.” The Complainant contends that the Respondent is using the Domain Name to “reap undeserved pay-per-click commissions by redirecting visitors to other web sites” in violation of the Policy.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy provides that in order to be entitled to a transfer of a domain name, a complainant must prove 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 to 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 has demonstrated that it owns rights in the GEICO trademark. The GEICO trademark is clearly recognizable in the Domain Name. The addition of the word “homebuyer” in the Domain Name does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the Domain Name and the Complainant’s GEICO trademark. See section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”). Under these circumstances, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s GEICO trademark.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides that a respondent can demonstrate rights to or legitimate interests in a domain name by demonstrating one of the following facts:

(i) before receiving any notice of the dispute, the respondent used or made demonstrable preparations to use the domain name at issue in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) the respondent has been commonly known by the domain name; or
(iii) the respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name without intent for commercial gain, to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark at issue.

In this case, the Complainant has put forward a prima facie case and no evidence has been presented that the Respondent used or made demonstrable preparations to use the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, that the Respondent is commonly known by the Domain Name, or that the Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Name. The Complainant has alleged that the Respondent is using the Domain Name to direct Internet users to a parked page that generates pay-per-click revenue. The Respondent has not refuted these allegations. In the Panel’s view, this cannot be considered a bona fide offering of goods or services. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has established this element of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy states that the following circumstances are evidence of registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:

“(i) circumstances indicating that the respondent has registered or acquired the domain name at issue 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 documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or

(ii) the respondent 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) the respondent has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

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

The Complainant has established bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. The Domain Name is being used to direct Internet users to a parked page by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark. Although the Complainant argues that the Respondent is reaping the benefits of pay-per-click revenue from the parked page, it is unclear whether that is the case since the web site says that it is “parked free, courtesy of GoDaddy.com,” and it seems likely that GoDaddy.com is the party that has generated the content for the page and that might be the recipient of any pay-per-click revenue that is earned. Nevertheless, panels have found bad faith in similar circumstances on the theory that domain name registrants are responsible for the content of websites associated with their domain names. See section 3.5 of WIPO Overview 3.0; McDonald’s Corporation v. ZusCom, WIPO Case No. D2007-1353; Rolex Watch U.S.A., Inc. v. Vadim Krivitsky, WIPO Case No. D2008-0396. Under these circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith.

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 <geicohomebuyer.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Michelle Brownlee
Sole Panelist
Date: November 21, 2021