WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Compass, Inc. v. Domains By Proxy, LLC / Juan Carlos Ramirez Sanchez
Case No. D2021-3647
1. The Parties
Complainant is Compass, Inc., United States of America (“United States” or “U.S.”), represented by Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP, United States.
Respondent is Domains By Proxy, LLC, United States / Juan Carlos Ramirez Sanchez, Mexico.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <compassinternationalfinancial.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 November 2, 2021. On November 2, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 3, 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 named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to Complainant on November 3, 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 8, 2021.
The Center verified that 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 11, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 1, 2021. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on December 2, 2021.
The Center appointed Gabriel F. Leonardos as the sole panelist in this matter on December 15, 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, Compass, Inc., is a residential real estate brokerage founded in 2012 under the name “Urban Compass”. Initially, the company focused in offering rental services and operated with full-time employed brokers. Nowadays, Compass, Inc. is made up of independent real estate agents, who advise their clients in finding and selling high-margin, luxury homes in upscale market.
Since its foundation, Complainant has expanded its activities to 20 cities across the United States and aims to become the first one stop shop of brokerage services. In 2021, Complainant went public and got listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker COMP, changing its formal legal name from Urban Compass, Inc., to Compass, Inc.
Further information about Complainant and its business can be found at “www.compass.com”.
During the past years, Complainant has achieved international success and reputation. In order to protect its investments and rights, Complainant owns several trademark registrations for the sign “Compass” in a variety of jurisdictions.
Below are some examples of Complainant’s trademark registrations:
Number, filing date, registration date and specification of services:
- U.S. Reg. No. 5,906,154, filed on January 16, 2018 and registered on November 12, 2019, for the following goods and services: “Real estate marketing services” in International Class 35; “[R]eal estate sales management; real estate brokerage; real estate consultation; real estate listing; real estate valuation services; providing real estate listings and real estate information via the internet” in International Class 36; “Providing online, non-downloadable software for locating, monitoring, tracking, and researching available real estate” in International Class 42.
- U.S. Reg. No. 6,041,375, filed on August 30, 2019 and registered on April 28, 2020, for the following goods and services: “[P]roviding online, non-downloadable software for locating, monitoring, tracking, and researching available real estate” and “software as a service (SAAS) services featuring software for searching, retrieving, viewing, organizing, reviewing, valuing, selling, and buying in the field of real estate” in International Class 42.
Complainant has continuously advertised and delivered real estate services in extensive conjunction with the trademark COMPASS since 2015 and owns its official domain name <compass.com> since November 10, 1992. The disputed domain name <compassinvestmanagement.com> was registered on April 23, 2021, and resolves to a fraudulent website from which fraudulent e-mails impersonating Complainant were sent.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant pleads that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its registered trademarks COMPASS, since it incorporates the sign COMPASS in its entirety. Therefore, despite the addition of words “international” and “financial” after the sign COMPASS in the disputed domain name, it will likely be associated with Complainant’s trademark.
In this regard, Complainant affirms that any Internet user when visiting a website or receiving an email provided under the disputed domain name will reasonably expect to find a website linked to Complainant.
Complainant also notes that Respondent is trying to take advantage of the renown and notoriety achieved by Complainant through the sign COMPASS, especially due to the extensive media attention received by Complainant in the past few years.
Thus, according to Complainant, Respondent intends to imitate Complainant’s business and take advantage of its well-known reputation, fulfilling paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy and paragraph 3(b)(viii) and 3(b)(ix)(1) of the Rules.
Furthermore, Complainant affirms that, as far as it is aware, Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, nor is widely known by the disputed domain name. Respondent is not authorized, or licensed to use Complainant’s trademark in a domain name.
Complainant mentions that Respondent has not used the disputed domain name for noncommercial or fair use. On the contrary, Respondent is using both the website and the email address hosted by the disputed domain name to defraud consumers through a phishing scheme, falsely claiming to be the international branch of Complainant.
This way, Complainant states that no bona fide or legitimate use of the disputed domain name could be reasonably claimed by Respondent, so paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy and paragraph 3(b)(ix)(2) of the Rules would be fulfilled.
At last, Complainant states that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
In this regard, Complainant alleges that it is impossible that Respondent was not aware of Complainant’s rights and well-known reputation when registering the disputed domain name, since Respondent created a fictitious entity called “Compass International Financial” that falsely claimed to be the international branch of Complainant - including by using the trademark COMPASS, forging the signature of Complainant’s CEO on documents, and listing the address of Complainant’s regional headquarters on the website at the disputed domain name.
Complainant also mentions five situations in which Respondent attempted or was successful in convincing consumers of transferring money based on a scheme involving fake offers to purchase real estate through the nonexistent brokerage services of “Compass International Financial”. According to Complainant, such phishing scheme is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”).
ln conclusion, Complainant alleges that, by the registration and use of the disputed domain name, Respondent intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial and illegal gain, Internet users to its website, creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant and its trademark COMPASS as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of Respondent's website, which constitutes registration and use in bad faith pursuant to paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
To succeed in a UDRP complaint, Complainant must demonstrate that all the elements listed in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been satisfied, as following:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(ii) 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.
The burden of proving these elements is upon Complainant.
Respondent had 20 days to submit a response in accordance with paragraph 5(a) of the Rules but failed to do so. Paragraph 5(f) of the Rules establishes that if a respondent does not respond to the complaint, the panel’s decision shall be based upon the complaint.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Complainant has proven that it owns prior trademark rights over the sign COMPASS and that the disputed domain name incorporates such trademark in its entirety, with the sole addition of the terms “international” and “financial”, which does not avoid a finding of confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and Complainant’s trademark COMPASS.
Thus, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademark, and so the requirement of the first element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The consensus view of UDRP panels on the burden of proof under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy is summarized in section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) as follows: “[w]hile the overall burden of proof in UDRP proceedings is on the complainant, panels have recognized that proving a respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in a domain name may result in the often impossible task of ‘proving a negative’, requiring information that is often primarily within the knowledge or control of the respondent. As such, where a complainant makes out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, the burden of production on this element shifts to the respondent to come forward with relevant evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If the respondent fails to come forward with such relevant evidence, the complainant is deemed to have satisfied the second element.”
In this case, noting the facts and contentions listed above, the Panel finds that Complainant has made a prima facie showing that Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests, so the burden of production shifts to Respondent. As Respondent has not replied to Complainant’s contentions, the Panel has considered Complainant’s unrebutted prima facie case to be sufficient to demonstrate that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name (Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii)).
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy lists a number of circumstances that, without limitation, are deemed evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith.
The Panel finds that it is duly demonstrated that Respondent was well aware of Complainant’s rights to the trademark COMPASS at the time of registration of the disputed domain name and registered it with the sole intention of impersonate Complainant and defraud its consumers, since: (i) Respondent identified itself as an affiliate of Complainant, using the disputed domain name to exchange emails with its targets; (ii) Respondent forged the signature of Complainant’s CEO in a fraudulent timeshare sales contract; and (iii) Respondent manifestly misappropriated Complainant’s identity by copying information from Complainant’s website and reproducing it in the page hosted by the disputed domain name.
Thus, the Panel believes that Respondent registered the disputed domain name solely for fraudulent purposes - having even already applied the scam to at least five consumers of Complainant - which is the clearest evidence of registration and use of a domain name in bad faith. In this regard, the Panel refers to the UDRP decision in L'Oréal v. Cimpress Schweiz GmbH, WIPO Case No. DCO2017-0021, as quoted below:
“From the above it is apparent to the Panel that the Respondent was not only familiar with the Complainant's trademarks, but also its company, when registering the disputed domain name. It can be inferred that the Respondent solely registered the disputed domain name for fraudulent purposes. It is established case law that the use of a disputed domain name for the purpose of defrauding Internet users by the operation of a ‘phishing scheme’ is perhaps the clearest evidence of registration and use of a domain name in bad faith (see OLX, Inc. v. J D Mason Singh, WIPO Case No. D2014-1037 and The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc v. Secret Registration Customer ID 232883 / Lauren Terrado, WIPO Case No. D2012-2093).”
Therefore, the Panel finds that paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy has been satisfied, since Respondent clearly intends to attract, for financial and illegal gain, Complainant’s consumers by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant and its trademark COMPASS, which constitutes registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith.
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 <compassinternationalfinancial.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Gabriel F. Leonardos
Date: December 29, 2021