WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Principal Financial Services, Inc. v. Withheld for Privacy ehf / Ramin H, RPP
Case No. D2021-4054
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Principal Financial Services, Inc., United States of America (“United States”), represented by Neal & McDevitt, United States.
The Respondent is Withheld for Privacy ehf, Iceland/ Ramin H, RPP, United Arab Emirates.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <principal.sbs> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 4, 2021. On December 6, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On December 6, 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 14, 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 16, 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 21, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was January 10, 2022. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 19, 2022.
The Center appointed Ian Lowe as the sole panelist in this matter on February 1, 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 United States based multi-national financial services institution offering, through its licensees, member companies and affiliates, a broad range of services in sectors including financial, insurance, investment, banking, retirement, global asset management, real estate, and healthcare. It has used its PRINCIPAL trademark in connection with a range of products and services in those business sectors since at least 1985 and, through its predecessor, since 1960. It operates a website at “www.principal.com” marketing and promoting its products and services.
The Complainant is the proprietor of a substantial number of registered trademarks in respect of PRINCIPAL, including United States trademark number 1,562,541 PRINCIPAL registered on October 24, 1989 for services in class 36 and United States trademark number 5,074,931 PRINCIPAL and device mark, registered on November 1, 2016 for services in class 36, as shown below (the “Principal device mark”):
The Domain Name was registered on November 24, 2021. It does not presently resolve to an active website, but at the time of filing the Complaint it resolved to a website (the “Respondent’s Website”) with the heading “Principal”, impersonating the Complainant, purporting to be the website of the Complainant and soliciting investments. The Respondent’s Website incorporated copies of text taken from the Complainant’s website. It displayed the Principal device mark under the heading “About Our Company” and the footer “Copyright (c) 2021, Principal Services, Inc All Rights Reserved”. It included a link “Sign In Now” at the head of every page and a link on the home page “Get Android APP” that took the user to a download of the Complainant’s app in the Google Play store.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is identical to its PRINCIPAL trademark (the “Mark”), that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name, and that the Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith within the meaning of the Policy.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
For this Complaint to succeed in relation to the Domain Name the Complainant must prove that:
(i) the 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 Domain Name; and
(iii) the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has uncontested rights in the Mark, both by virtue of its many trademark registrations and as a result of the substantial goodwill and reputation acquired through its widespread use of the Mark over some 60 years. Ignoring the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.sbs”, the Domain Name is identical to the Mark.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is identical to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has made out a strong prima facie case that the Respondent could have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. The Respondent is not authorized by the Complainant to use the Domain Name. The Respondent has not used the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, but rather has used it to connect to a website impersonating the Complainant and purporting to be the website of the Complainant, soliciting investments.
The Respondent has chosen not to respond to the Complaint or to take any steps to counter the prima facie case established by the Complainant. In the circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Domain Name is identical to the Complainant’s Mark, and the Respondent’s Website impersonates the Complainant and purports to be the website of the Complainant. In the circumstances there can be no doubt that the Respondent had the Complainant and its rights in the Mark in mind when it registered the Domain Name. The legitimate inference is that the Respondent has used the Domain Name to resolve to a website incorporating both the Mark and the Complainant’s Principal device mark in order to deceive Internet users into believing that the Domain Name is operated or authorized by the Complainant. It no doubt did so with a view to attracting Internet users, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Mark, for commercial gain and/or to phish for personal data for improper purposes. In the Panel’s view, this amounts to paradigm bad faith registration and use.
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 <principal.sbs> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: February 15, 2022