WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Customs Support Group B.V. v. Privacy Protection / Yabani Eze, Sugarcane Internet Nigeria Limited

Case No. D2021-4174

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Customs Support Group B.V., Netherlands, represented by Ploum, Netherlands.

The Respondent is Privacy Protection, United States of America / Yabani Eze, Sugarcane Internet Nigeria Limited, Nigeria.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <customssuport.com> is registered with Sav.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 13, 2021. On December 13, 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 the Complainant on December 17, 2022, 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 20, 2022.

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 27, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was January 16, 2022. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 17, 2022.

The Center appointed Andrew F. Christie as the sole panelist in this matter on February 3, 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 was formed in 1991, and is now one of the leading neutral and digital customs agencies in Europe, offering complete solutions in the area of customs services for industrial and logistics companies. Over the last couple of years, the Complainant has grown significantly and added many new members to its group, who have been rebranded to work as “Customs Support”. Every day more than 1,000 customs specialists and Brexit experts from the Complainant are working on the handling of customs affairs in over 70 offices in several countries within Europe and the United Kingdom, advising clients and solving challenges related to tax representation and customs documentation.

The Complainant is the owner of several trademark registrations, including European Union Trademark Registration No. 018208795 (filed on March 11, 2020, and registered on July 7, 2020), and United Kingdom Trademark Registration No. 918208795 (filed on March 11, 2020, and entered into the register on July 7, 2020), both for a stylized trademark containing the text string “Customs Support” (the “CUSTOMS SUPPORT trademark”).

The Complainant operates websites using numerous domain names registered by it that incorporate the text string of its CUSTOMS SUPPORT trademark, including <customssupport.com> and <customssupport.nl>.

The disputed domain name was registered on February 10, 2021. The Complainant has provided screenshots, taken on November 29, 2021, of the website resolving from the disputed domain name. The screenshots show that the disputed domain name resolved to what appears to be a parked page, containing pay-per-click advertising links, the titles of which include “Import Export Management Software”, “Delivery and Logistics”, “Import and Export Data”, and what appears to be a URL which includes “customssupport.com”. The Complainant says that these links resolve to the Complainant’s website and to websites of the Complainant’s competitors. At the time of this decision, the disputed domain name resolves to a website that appears to be the same as the website shown in the screenshots provided by the Complainant.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant made the following contentions to establish that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights. The disputed domain name incorporates its CUSTOMS SUPPORT trademark in its entirety and adds an obvious misspelling by the omission of the second letter “p” in the word “support”. The omission of the letter “p” in the disputed domain name is clearly an intentional misspelling of the CUSTOMS SUPPORT trademark, and does not alter the finding of confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the CUSTOMS SUPPORT trademark.

The Complainant made the following contentions to establish that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name (as an individual, business or other organization) and has not acquired any trademark rights to the name “Customssuport”. There is no connection between the Respondent and the Complainant, and the Complainant did not authorize the Respondent to use its CUSTOMS SUPPORT trademark in any way whatsoever. The Respondent does not use, and has not made any preparation to use, the disputed domain name or a name corresponding to the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. The website resolving from the disputed domain name is a parked page comprising pay-per-click advertising links to the Complainant’s website and to websites of the Complainant’s direct competitors, and the Respondent thereby competes with and capitalizes on the reputation and goodwill of the CUSTOMS SUPPORT trademark. As the Respondent is offering pay-per-click advertising links on the website resolving from the disputed domain name by using the confusingly similar CUSTOMS SUPPORT trademark with an obvious misspelling, the Respondent is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name without the intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the CUSTOMS SUPPORT trademark.

The Complainant made the following contentions to establish that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. Due to the extensive marketing activities of the Complainant and its existence in the customs market since 1999, the Complainant is considered well-known amongst the relevant public within the European Union and, accordingly, the Respondent must have been aware of the existence of the Complainant’s activities and rights at the time of registration of the disputed domain name. There is no plausible explanation why the Respondent registered the disputed domain name other than the Respondent intended to trade off the goodwill and reputation associated with the Complainant. The disputed domain name is hosting a parked page that displays advertisement links to the Complainant and other companies specialized in the same field of services as the Complainant and for which services the CUSTOMS SUPPORT trademark is registered. The purpose of this pay-per-click parking page is clearly to attract Internet users to the website resolving from the disputed domain name for profit, based on the Respondent’s created confusion between the disputed domain name, with an obvious misspelling, and the Complainant’s website. Given the high similarity between the disputed domain name and the CUSTOMS SUPPORT trademark, there is a great risk that the main purpose for registering the disputed domain name is that it will be used for fraudulent activities by the Respondent. The Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name shows the Respondent’s intent to rely on a risk of confusion with the Complainant’s activity and trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the disputed domain name and the website associated with it. The use of a privacy service to mask the information in the WhoIs database is an indication of bad faith. The Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the CUSTOMS SUPPORT trademark.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Once the gTLD “.com” is ignored (which is appropriate in this case), the disputed domain name consists of the text string contained in the Complainant’s stylized CUSTOMS SUPPORT trademark, without one of the letters “p”. The Complainant’s trademark is clearly recognizable within the disputed domain name. The omission of the letter “p” does not avoid the confusing similarity of the disputed domain name with the Complainant’s trademark.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Respondent is not a licensee of the Complainant, is not otherwise affiliated with the Complainant, and has not been authorized by the Complainant to use its CUSTOMS SUPPORT trademark. The Respondent has not provided any evidence that it has been commonly known by, or has made a bona fide use of, the disputed domain name, or that it has, for any other reason, rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The evidence provided by the Complainant shows that the disputed domain name has been used to resolve to a website which displayed pay-per-click advertisements with links related to the Complainant’s area of business. The Complainant alleges that these links resolve to the Complainant’s website and to websites of the Complainant’s competitors. Given the confusing similarity of the disputed domain name to the Complainant’s trademark, the absence of any relationship between the Respondent and the Complainant, and the risk of implied false affiliation with the Complainant, the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name is neither a bona fide use nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use

The Complainant has put forward a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and the Respondent has not rebutted this. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The disputed domain name was registered approximately one year after the Complainant first registered its CUSTOMS SUPPORT trademark, and many years after the Complaint began trading under the name that comprises the text string in its CUSTOMS SUPPORT trademark. It seems highly unlikely that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name ignorant of the existence of the Complainant and its CUSTOMER SUPPORT trademark, given that the disputed domain name is almost certainly a deliberate misspelling of the Complainant’s name and trademark, and that the Respondent used the disputed domain name to resolve to a website at which there are pay-per-click advertisements with links related to the Complainant’s area of business.

Given the Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and the confusing similarity of the disputed domain name to the Complainant’s trademark, any use of the disputed domain name by the Respondent almost certainly implies an affiliation with the Complainant that does not exist, and so would be a use in bad faith.

Furthermore, the evidence on the record provided by the Complainant indicates that the Respondent has used the disputed domain name in an attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to a website by creating confusion in the minds of the public as to an association between the website and the Complainant.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name has been 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 disputed domain name, <customssuport.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.

Andrew F. Christie
Sole Panelist
Date: February 17, 2022