WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Equifax Inc. v. Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC / Carolina Rodrigues, Fundacion Comercio Electronico

Case No. D2021-3320

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Equifax Inc., United States of America (“United States”), represented by The GigaLaw Firm, United States.

The Respondent is Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC / Carolina Rodrigues, Fundacion Comercio Electronico, Panama.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <myequifor.com> 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 October 7, 2021. On October 7, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 8, 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 9, 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 12, 2021.

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 13, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 2, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 3, 2021.

The Center appointed Steven A. Maier as the sole panelist in this matter on November 8, 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 is a corporation registered in Georgia, United States. It is a provider of information services, including a credit reporting service, which provides consumers with a summary of their credit history and certain other information as reported to credit bureaus by lenders and creditors.

The Complainant is the owner of over 200 registrations in over 50 territories around the world for trademarks comprising or including the name and mark EQUIFAX. Those registrations include, for example, United States trademark number 1027544 for the word mark EQUIFAX, registered on December 16, 1975 in international Class 36.

The Complainant is also the registrant of the domain name <equifax.com>, created in February 1995, which it uses for the purpose of its primary website.

The disputed domain name was registered on September 24, 2021.

The Complainant has provided evidence that the disputed domain name has resolved to a website at “www.myequifor.com”, which appears to be a pay-per-click (“PPC”) website offering links to services including those labelled “Security Freeze” and “Identity Theft”.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant submits that it or its predecessor entities have traded since 1899 and that it is a leading global provider of information services. It states that it operates in 24 countries employing over 11,000 people worldwide and, according to its 2000 annual report, had operating revenues in excess of USD 4 billion in that financial year. The Complainant submits that its EQUIFAX trademark has become famous or widely known.

The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name <myequifor.com> is confusingly similar to its EQUIFAX trademark. It contends that the disputed domain name wholly incorporates that trademark, but for the substitution of the letters “or” for “ax”, which represents a case of “typosquatting”. The Complainant submits that its trademark is recognizable in the disputed domain name and that the addition of the word “my” in the disputed domain name does not prevent it from being confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark.

The Complainant submits that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. It states that it has never licensed or authorized the Respondent to use its EQUIFAX trademark, that the Respondent has not been known by that name, and that the Respondent is making neither bona fide commercial use nor legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name. The Complainant contends, in particular, that the use of a misleading domain name for the purpose of a PPC website cannot constitute a bona fide commercial activity.

The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

The Complainant contends that the Respondent’s registration of a domain name corresponding to its own well-known or widely-known trademark is itself evidence of registration and use in bad faith. The Complainant says that it is implausible that the Respondent was unaware of its EQUIFAX trademark and that the disputed domain name is so obviously connected with that trademark that the Respondent’s actions constitute opportunistic bad faith.

The Complainant further contends that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name to capitalize on the likelihood of confusion with its EQUIFAX trademark by diverting Internet traffic to its PPC website.

Further, the Complainant submits that the Respondent has configured mail servers in connection with the disputed domain name. The Complainant contends that this gives rise to a strong possibility that the Respondent intends to use the disputed domain name for dishonest purposes such as a fraudulent “phishing” scheme.

Finally, the Complainant provides evidence that the Respondent “Carolina Rodrigues, Fundacion Comercio Electronico” has been the respondent in a total of 373 previous cases under the UDRP, determined either by WIPO or the National Arbitration Forum. The Complainant submits that this establishes a pattern of “cybersquatting” by the Respondent, which raises further the inference of bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name.

The Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain name.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

In order to succeed in the Complaint, the Complainant is required to show that all three of the elements set out under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are present. Those elements are that:

(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 Complainant has established that it is the owner of registered trademark rights for the mark EQUIFAX. The disputed domain name <myequifor.com> has the letters “equif” in common with the Complainant’s trademark. While the presence of the letters “or” as opposed to “ax” does not represent the most obvious case of “cybersquatting”, the Panel finds that there is sufficient visual and aural similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s trademark to render that trademark recognizable within the disputed domain name. The Panel finds further that the addition of the dictionary word “my” does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s trademark. The Panel finds therefore that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

In the view of the Panel, the Complainant’s submissions set out above give rise to a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. However, the Respondent has not filed a Response in this proceeding and has not submitted any explanation for its registration and use of the disputed domain name, or evidence of rights or legitimate interests on its part in the disputed domain name, whether in the circumstances contemplated by paragraph 4(c) of the Policy or otherwise. There being no other evidence of rights or legitimate interests on the part of the Respondent, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Panel finds that the trademark EQUIFAX is distinctive of the Complainant and its services, and that it has become widely known internationally by virtue of its extensive use in commerce over a substantial period of time. The Respondent has provided no explanation for its choice of the disputed domain name, which has been used to resolve to a website which has no obvious connection with the terms “equifor” or “myequifor” and which offers PPC links in areas apparently similar to the Complainant’s credit reporting services. The Panel infers in the circumstances that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name with knowledge of the Complainant’s trademark and with the intention of taking unfair commercial advantage of the goodwill attaching to that trademark.

The Panel finds further that the Respondent has used the disputed domain name misleadingly to divert such Internet users to its PPC website. The Panel finds in particular that, by using the disputed domain name, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of its website or of a product or service on its website (paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy).

Concerning the configuration of mail servers in connection with the disputed domain name, the Panel accepts that this raises the possibility of a fraudulent email scam, but notes that there is no evidence at this time of any such emails having been sent.

The Panel also notes the substantial number of previous cases under the UDRP, which have been brought against the Respondent. While the Complainant does not detail the outcome of those cases, it is clear from the Panel’s own review that the overwhelming majority resulted in a finding against the Respondent. The Panel finds in the circumstances that the Respondent has engaged in a pattern of registering domain names corresponding to trademarks held by third parties, which supports the inferences of registration and use in bad faith in the present case (see e.g. paragraph 3.1.2 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”)).

The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used 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 disputed domain name, <myequifor.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.

Steven A. Maier
Sole Panelist
Date: November 11, 2021