WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Government Employees Insurance Company v. Domain Administrator, See PrivacyGuardian.org / qrhvo qvo
Case No. D2021-3534
1. The Parties
Complainant is Government Employees Insurance Company, United States of America (“United States”), represented by Burns & Levinson LLP, United States.
Respondent is Domain Administrator, See PrivacyGuardian.org, United States / qrhvo qvo, United States.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <geicoco.com> is registered with NameSilo, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 22, 2021. On October 25, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On the same day, 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 Complainant on October 28, 2021, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainant filed an amended Complaint on November 2, 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 November 4, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 24, 2021. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 25, 2021.
The Center appointed Jeffrey M. Samuels as the sole panelist in this matter on November 30, 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 Government Employees Insurance Company is an internationally known insurance provider which has provided insurance services throughout the United States under the mark GEICO since at least 1948. Complainant has over 17 million policies and insures more than 28 million vehicles.
Complainant’s GEICO trademark is the subject of United States Trademark Registration Nos. 0763274 registered on January 14, 1964, and 2601179 registered on July 30, 1964, as well as European Union Trademark Registration No. 1178718 registered on October 24, 2013.
Complainant also owns the domain name <geico.com>, which it uses to promote and sell its insurance services under its GEICO trademark.
The disputed domain name, <geicoco.com>, resolves to a parked page consisting of changing, auto-generated pay-per-click (PPC) links to websites operated by third parties, including direct competitors of Complainant.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant refers to its trademark registrations for the GEICO mark to satisfy the threshold requirement that it owns trademark rights in the GEICO mark. It then argues that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to its GEICO mark insofar as its mark is recognizable within the disputed domain name. Complainant notes that the domain name in dispute consists entirely of its GEICO mark, adding the suffix “-co”, which represents either additional non-distinguishing random letters, a repetition of the last two letters of the GEICO mark, or an obvious abbreviation for the generic term “company”, along with a generic top- level domain.
Complainant further alleges that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name. Complainant asserts that Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to host a parked page comprising of PPC links does not represent a bona fide offering of goods or services, “particularly where, as here, such links compete with or capitalize on the reputation and goodwill of the [C]omplainant’s mark or otherwise mislead internet users.”
Complainant also observes that it has not given any authorization for the use of its GEICO mark in any form and notes that there is no evidence that Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name or that Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
With respect to the issue of bad faith registration and use, Complainant argues that Respondent registered, is using, and has used the disputed domain name to intentionally attract internet users and consumers looking for legitimate GEICO services and/or authorized partners to Respondent’s own webpages, all for Respondent’s illicit commercial gain. Further, according to Complainant, “Respondent’s apparent use of the Disputed Domain Name to feature PPC links to websites featuring Complainant’s competitors strongly suggests an intent to generate undeserved profit in some fashion from, or otherwise exploit, Complainant’s famous GEICO trademark, evidencing Respondent’s bad faith use and registration of the Disputed Domain Name.”
Finally, Complainant contends that Respondent actively took steps to conceal its identity by using a privacy proxy service in conjunction with providing inaccurate, incomplete, or conflicting registrant information underlying a privacy or proxy service. The disputed domain name, Complainant points out, is registered in the name of ‘”qrhvo qvo” with similarly indecipherable email information consisting of random letters, all registered to a street address that does not appear to exist.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the GEICO trademark. As Complainant notes, the disputed domain name incorporates in full the GEICO trademark, adding only the letters “co”. The applicable Top Level Domain (“.com”) is viewed as a standard registration requirement and as such is disregarded under the first element confusing similarity test.
The Panel further finds that Complainant, through its longstanding use of, and registrations covering, the GEICO mark, has rights in such mark.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel concludes that Complainant has met its burden of proving that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The evidence indicates that the disputed domain name resolves to a PPC website with links to websites operated by Complainant’s competitors. That being the case, it cannot be found that Respondent is using the disputed domain name in connection with the bona fide offering of goods or services or is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name. There is no evidence that Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name or that it has been authorized by Complainant to use the GEICO mark as part of the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel rules that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. As noted above, the disputed domain name resolves to a PPC website with links to sites maintained by some of Complainant’s competitors and the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s GEICO mark. Under such circumstances, the Panel finds that Respondent registered the domain name to intentionally attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the disputed website by creating a likelihood of confusion as to source of such site and/or of the goods or services offered at, or through, such site, within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. See Government Employees Insurance Company v. Domain Hostmaster, Whois Privacy Services Pty. Ltd./Lisa Katz, Domain Protection LLC, WIPO Case No. D2016-1275 (transferring <geicorewards.com> to complainant and finding the respondent’s use of the domain name to offer click through links to insurance services of complainant’s competitors is evidence of bad faith).
Further evidence of the requisite bad faith is found in the fact that: (1) as outlined above, Respondent took steps to conceal its identity; and (2) given the fame of Complainant’s GEICO mark, it may be presumed that Respondent was aware of such mark at the time it registered the disputed domain name. See Government Employees Insurance Company v. Jun Yin, WIPO Case No. DCO2020-0037 (finding the GEICO mark to be “known throughout the world” as a result of extensive use and advertising creating “an exclusive connection between the GEICO mark and the Complainant” such that it should be presumed that respondent knew or should have known about Complainant’s GEICO mark or has exercised the sort of willful blindness that would still support a finding of bad faith). See also Government Employees Insurance Company v. Joel Rosenzweig, RegC, WIPO Case No. D2021-1221.
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 <geicoco.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Jeffrey M. Samuels
Date: December 14, 2021