WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Alstom v. Guillermo Guillermo
Case No. D2021-3413
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Alstom, France, represented by Lynde & Associes, France.
The Respondent is Guillermo Guillermo, Nigeria.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <atslomgroup.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 October 15, 2021. On October 15, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 16, 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 October 25, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 14, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 16, 2021.
The Center appointed Rodrigo Azevedo as the sole panelist in this matter on November 29, 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 the French company Alstom, a global reference in the field of power generation, power transmission and rail infrastructure.
The trademark ALSTOM was registered by the Complainant in several jurisdictions of the world, including in the United States of America (e.g. trademark registration no. 4311549, of April 2, 2013) and in the European Union (e.g. trademark registration no. 000948729, of August 8, 2001). The Complainant has also obtained international trademark registrations for ALSTOM (e.g. trademark registration no. 706292, of August 28, 1998).
Furthermore, the Complainant is the holder of the domain name <alstom.com>, registered on January 20, 1998, among many other domain names comprising the term “alstom”.
The disputed domain name <atslomgroup.com> was registered on June 1, 2021.
At the time of the decision, the disputed domain name was not resolving to any active website. However, the Complainant has presented evidence that the disputed domain name has been used to send emails requesting money transfer, seeking to confuse the recipients into believing these messages were from the Complainant.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant makes the following contentions:
- The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights. The disputed domain name results in the combination of the elements “atslom”, “group”, and “.com”. The “atslom” element is visually confusingly similar to the trademark ALSTOM. Indeed, it reproduces all of the letters of the ALSTOM trademark. Simply the order of the letters “lst” is inversed to “tsl”. The risk of confusion is heightened due to ALSTOM’s well-known character and reputation. The denomination “group” will be directly perceived by the Internet users as referring to ALSTOM’s group of companies. Finally, the suffix “.com” only indicates that the disputed domain name is registered in the “.com” generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”). Numerous UDRP decisions have held that the addition of the gTLD “.com” is not to be taken into consideration when examining the identity or similarity between the relevant mark and a disputed domain name. Moreover, the disputed domain name barely differs from the <alstomgroup.com> domain name of which the Complainant is also the holder, that was registered in 2000 and is namely used to support the email addresses of all employees of the ALSTOM group of companies.
- The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. The Respondent has failed to prove its rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not affiliated in any way to the Complainant. The Complainant has not indeed authorized, licensed or permitted the Respondent to register or use a domain name incorporating its trademarks. The Respondent has not applied for or obtained any trademark registrations related to the sign ALSTOM and is not either commonly known under the name “atslom”. Furthermore, given that the Respondent has been using the mail exchange (“MX”) of the disputed domain name to send numerous credulous emails supposedly on behalf of the Complainant, it is clear that the Respondent has no legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. Quite the contrary, the Respondent’s actions are made in violation of the Complainant’s rights and affect negatively its partnerships and reputation.
- The disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The disputed domain name incontestably imitate the Complainant’s trademarks, and was acquired long after the Complainant’s marks became well-known. Further, in view of the well-known character of the name “alstom”, it is virtually impossible that the Respondent was not aware of the Complainant’s activities, at the time it registered the disputed domain name. The Respondent has been using the disputed domain name in bad faith to impersonate the Complainant. The Respondent sent emails, impersonating the Complainant’s employees, as a part of a broader credulous scheme in order to receive the payments from the Complainant in place of their suppliers. Moreover, the very slight differences between the email addresses “[…]@alstomgroup.com” and “[…]@atslomgroup.com” are likely to go unnoticed and lead to confusion and error. Commercial scams are likely to be punished under the offence of fraud. Such use of the disputed domain name has, of course, never been made or authorized by the Complainant, and is indisputably a use in bad faith. The disputed domain name is a clear case of deliberate typosquatting. Indeed, the Respondent’s intention is to mislead and divert the public, and more specifically the Complainant’s partners. The Respondent appears to provide false or incomplete contact information. Moreover, the Respondent’s name “guillermo Guillermo” is associated with more than 1,000 other domain names, an additional evidence of its bad faith. Finally, the registration and use of the disputed domain name take unfair advantage of the Complainant’s reputation. Additionally, this registration and use are likely to lead the public to assume that the disputed domain name is associated with the Complainant and thus, will result in confusion as to who owns and operates under the disputed domain name.
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 the disputed domain name, the Complainant shall prove the following three elements:
(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 Complaint shows trademark registrations for ALSTOM obtained by the Complainant as early as in 1998.
The disputed domain name differs from the Complainant’s trademark ALSTOM merely by the modification of the order of some of the letters that compose it, forming the new term “atslom”, as well as by the addition of the term “group”, and of the gTLD “.com”.
The misspelling of the Complainant’s trademark is a practice commonly called typosquatting, a kind of cybersquatting in which a respondent registers a domain name in order to take advantage of typing errors eventually made by Internet users seeking a complainant’s website (See CPP, Inc. v. Virtual Sky, WIPO Case No. D2006-0201).
Also, previous UDRP panels have consistently found that additional descriptive terms – such as the term “group” – in a domain name does not avoid a finding of confusing similarity. This has been held in many UDRP decisions (see, e.g., Inter-IKEA Systems B.V. v. Evezon Co. Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2000-0437; The British Broadcasting Corporation v. Jaime Renteria, WIPO Case No. D2000-0050; Volvo Trademark Holding AB v. SC-RAD Inc., WIPO Case No. D2003-0601; Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Lars Stork, WIPO Case No. D2000-0628; America Online, Inc. v. Dolphin@Heart, WIPO Case No. D2000-0713; AltaVista Company v. S.M.A., Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0927).
Finally, it is well established that the addition of a gTLD suffix such as “.com” is typically irrelevant when determining whether a domain name is confusingly similar to a complainant’s trademark.
As a result, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks, and that the Complainant has satisfied the first element of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides some examples without limitation of how a respondent can demonstrate a right or legitimate interest in a domain name:
(i) before receiving any notice of the dispute, the respondent used or made demonstrable preparations to use the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) the respondent has been commonly known by the domain name, even if the respondent has acquired no trademark or service mark rights; 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 or service mark at issue.
Based on the Respondent’s default and on the prima facie evidence in the Complaint, the Panel finds that the above circumstances are not present in this particular case and that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
The Complainant has not licensed or authorized the usage of its trademarks to the Respondent, and it does not appear from the present record that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name.
The Panel also notes that the present record provides no evidence to demonstrate the Respondent’s intent to use or to make preparations to use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. Indeed, the Complainant has brought evidence that the disputed domain name has been used in connection with a fraudulent scheme, using the Complainant’s credibility to request money transfer supposedly to the Respondent.
Consequently, the Panel is satisfied that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and the Complainant has proven the second element of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy states that the following circumstances in particular, but without limitation, shall be 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 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 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 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 its website or location or of a product or service on its website or location.
When the disputed domain name was registered on June 1, 2021, the ALSTOM trademark was already undoubtedly connected with the Complainant’s services.
Besides the gTLD “.com” and the descriptive term “group”, the disputed domain name differs from the Complainant’s mark by merely altering the order of some of its letters: from “alstom” to “atslom”.
This Panel has no doubt that the Respondent targeted the Complainant’s mark when registering the disputed domain name, especially given the evidence of sending emails attempting to impersonate the Complainant.
The addition of the term “group” enhances the (false) perception that the disputed domain name may be an official Internet channel of the Complainant’s corporate group.
The Panel concludes that it would not be feasible to consider that the Respondent – at the time of the registration of the disputed domain name – could not have been aware of the Complainant’s trademark, as well as that the adoption of the expression “atslomgroup” could be a mere coincidence.
Currently, no active website is linked to the disputed domain name, but this does not prevent the Panel to make a finding that the disputed domain name is also being used in bad faith.
In the Panel’s view, the circumstances that the Respondent has not provided any justifications for the registration of the peculiar expression “atslomgroup”, associated with the evidence that the disputed domain name has been used in connection with a fraudulent scheme, trying to impersonate the Complainant in order to obtain financial gain, are enough in this Panel’s view to characterize bad faith registration and use in the present case.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith, and the Complainant has also satisfied the third element of the Policy.
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 <atslomgroup.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: December 14, 2021