WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

PrideStaff, Inc. v. Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0162471366 / Milen Radumilo

Case No. D2021-4002

1. The Parties

The Complainant is PrideStaff, Inc., United States of America (“United States”), represented by Frost Brown Todd LLC, United States.

The Respondent is Milen Radumilo, Romania.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <applypridestaff.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with Tucows Inc. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 30, 2021. On December 1, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On December 1, 2021, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Domain Name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on December 2, 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 amended Complaint on December 7, 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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on December 8, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 28, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 4, 2022.

The Center appointed Jonas Gulliksson as the sole panelist in this matter on January 14, 2022. 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 staffing firm in the United States and is in the business of providing professional staffing services for both employers with professional staffing needs and individuals looking for job placement services (the “PrideStaff Services”). The Complainant is the proprietor of the United States trademark registration for PRIDESTAFF, registration no. 2116589, registered on November 25, 1997, for use in connection with: employment agency services; personnel relocation services; personnel placement and recruitment services; temporary personnel placement and recruitment services; contract staffing services; personnel management consulting services; and personnel outplacement services in class 35.

The Domain Name was registered on August 31, 2021. The Domain Name used to redirect Internet users to various websites with purported job placement offerings and it currently resolves to a webpage with Pay-Per-Click (“PPC”) links.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant asserts, substantially, the following:

The Complainant has used the PRIDESTAFF mark in connection with the PrideStaff Services since at least as early as 1995. Since 1996, the Complainant has owned and used the <pridestaff.com> domain name. The Complainant is well known in the staffing industry and its PrideStaff Services have received numerous independent awards and recognitions from unrelated third parties, showcasing the strength and value of the PRIDESTAFF mark.

The Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s PRIDESTAFF mark.

The Respondent has no legitimate interest in the Domain Name. The website associated with the Domain Name does not currently resolve to any content. Rather, upon typing the Domain Name into the URL address bar, an interested viewer is redirected to sites such as “www.redfireshield.com” with an “offer” to download an extension that is likely used to harvest personal information from the Internet user. Beyond this initial “offer”, a viewer is then redirected to other websites, such as “www.higherincomejobs.com” with purported job placement offerings and further promoted to create a user profile. The Respondent is neither a licensee of, nor otherwise currently affiliated with the Complainant. The Respondent is under no contractual relationship with the Complainant to distribute or promote any PRIDESTAFF products or services. The Respondent is not a registered business and is otherwise not doing business as “Apply Pridestaff”. Rather, the Respondent is using the Domain Name for illegitimate purposes, which do not equate to a bona fide offering of services in connection with the Domain Name.

The Respondent is passively holding the Domain Name and is preventing the Complainant from obtaining its rightful ownership and control of this PRIDESTAFF domain name. The Respondent undoubtedly registered the Domain Name to capitalize on the recognition of the PRIDESTAFF mark by those seeking employment services, thus making the registration of the Domain Name in bad faith. Furthermore, the Respondent has set up MX-records for the Domain Name. This allows the Respondent to send and receive emails from the Domain Name such as “[...]@applypridestaff.com”, indicating that the Domain Name may be used for fraudulent email communications.

Due to the assignment of MX-records for the Domain Name, coupled with the lack of an established and bona fide business use of the Domain Name, it can be inferred that the Domain Name was set up to engage in some type of employment scam. In addition, the Respondent’s use of a privacy shield, while not considered evidence of bad faith use under the Policy per se, can be taken into account in appropriate cases, such as the case herein when such concealment of identity provides a further inference of bad faith. Moreover, this case involves a Respondent who is a serial cybersquatter.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

The burden for the Complainants under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is to prove:

(i) that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;

(ii) that the Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in respect of the Domain Name; and

(iii) that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

It is clearly established that the Complainant holds rights in the trademark PRIDESTAFF, registered in the United States several years before the registration of the Domain Name.

The Domain Name incorporates the Complainant’s PRIDESTAFF mark in its entirety while adding the term “apply” in the beginning of the Domain Name. According to the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.8, where the relevant trademark is recognizable within the disputed domain name, the addition of other terms (whether descriptive, geographical, pejorative, meaningless, or otherwise) would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity under the first element. Further, it is well established that “.com”, as a generic Top-Level Domain suffix, is disregarded in the assessment of the similarity between the Domain Name and the Complainant’s mark (see section 1.11.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).

Accordingly, the Panel finds that that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to a trademark and service mark in which the Complainant has rights, in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, a complainant must first make out a prima facie case showing that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in respect of a disputed domain name and then the burden, in effect, shifts to the respondent to come forward with evidence of its rights or legitimate interests (see section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).

The Panel acknowledges that the Complainant has made a prima facie case showing that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. In this regard, the Panel notes, i.e. that the Respondent does not seem to have acquired trademark or service mark rights in relation to the Domain Name, nor is there any indication that the Complainant has authorized the Respondent’s use and registration of the Domain Name. Further, the nature of the Domain Name carries a risk of implied affiliation. The composition of the Domain Name, namely the addition of “apply” to the Complainant’s trademark PRIDESTAFF, suggests affiliation with the Complainant. Furthermore, there is evidence on the file showing that the Domain Name redirected Internet users to the website “www.higherincomejobs.com” which includes offerings similar to, and competing with, the PrideStaff Services. Also, the use of the Domain Name to invite Internet users to download possibly malicious software does not confer rights or legitimate interests upon the Respondent. Lastly, the Domain Name currently resolves to a PPC site with links that capitalize on the reputation and goodwill associated with the Complainant, which cannot constitute fair use. See section 2.9 of the WIPO Overview 3.0.

Considering what has been stated above, the Panel finds that that the Complainant has established that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests with respect of the Domain Name.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

As mentioned above, the composition of the Domain Name suggests affiliation with the Complainant. The content of the websites to which the Domain Name redirected Internet users, and the current PPC links displayed at to the Domain Name website now, supports a finding of bad faith. Further, the Complainant claims that the Complainant has received numerous awards and recognitions within its field of business, and has provided evidence in this regard that has not been disputed. Therefore, the Panel finds that the Respondent must have registered the Domain Name having the Complainant in mind. By using the Domain Name, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the website to which the Domain Name redirects Internet users. In addition, the Respondent used a privacy service to hide its identity, failed to participate in this proceeding, and has been found to be a serial cybersquatter by previous UDRP panels, all of which which strongly supports a finding of bad faith.

Considering what has been stated above, the Panel finds that the Domain Name was 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 Domain Name, <applypridestaff.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Jonas Gulliksson
Sole Panelist
Date: January 28, 2022