WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Orano SA v. WhoisGuard, Inc. / Stephen Chomg

Case No. DCO2019-0039

1. The Parties

Complainant is Orano SA, France, represented by CSC Digital Brand Services AB, Sweden.

Respondent is WhoisGuard, Inc., Panama / Stephen Chomg, United Kingdom.1

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <orano-group.co> is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 20, 2019. On September 20, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 20, 2019, 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 September 23, 2019, 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 September 27, 2019.

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 September 30, 2019. On October 3, 2019, a third party sent an email communication to the Center, stating they had received a communication from the Center regarding this case, but that the name of the individual named as Respondent was unknown to them. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 20, 2019. Respondent did not submit any formal response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Commencement of Panel Appointment Process on October 22, 2019.

The Center appointed Stephanie G. Hartung as the sole panelist in this matter on October 30, 2019. 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 is a company organized under the laws of France that is active in the nuclear fuel business, offering e.g. services such as mining, dismantling, conversion, enrichment, recycling, logistics and engineering.

Complainant has provided evidence that it is the registered owner of numerous trademarks relating to Complainant’s company name and brand “Orano”, including the following which enjoy protection, inter alia, in the territory of the United Kingdom:

- Word Mark ORANO, European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), registration number: 017075581, registration date: December 21, 2017, status: active;

- Word Mark ORANO, EUIPO, registration number: 017600181, registration date: April 26, 2018, status: active.

Moreover, Complainant has evidenced to own, inter alia, the domain name <orano.group> which was registered on December 14, 2017, and is used to run Complainant’s main website at “www.orano.group” promoting Complainant’s products and services.

Respondent, according to the WhoIs information for the disputed domain name, is a resident of the United Kingdom and registered the disputed domain name on March 19, 2019. At the time of the filing of the Complaint and the rendering of this decision, the disputed domain name resolves to a standardized pay-per-click (PPC) website, displaying hyperlinks to numerous third party websites not specifically tailored to Complainant.

Complainant requests that the disputed domain name be transferred to Complainant.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

Complainant contends that its roots can be traced back to 1976, today operating 17 industrial sites in France with 16,000 employees worldwide contributing to the development of society in the energy and medical radiological research fields.

Complainant submits that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s ORANO trademark, as it predominantly consists thereof with the only addition of the term “group”. Moreover, Complainant asserts that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name since (1) Respondent neither is sponsored by or affiliated with Complainant in any way nor has Complainant licensed, authorized, or permitted Respondent to register domain names incorporating Complainant’s ORANO trademark, (2) Respondent obviously is not commonly known by the disputed domain name, (3) the fact that Respondent receives pay-per-click fees from the website linked to the disputed domain name clearly demonstrates that Respondent neither makes use of the latter in a bona fide nor in a noncommercial or fair manner. Finally, Complainant argues that Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith since (1) including Complainant’s ORANO trademark in a domain name together with the generic term “group” demonstrates a knowledge of Respondent and familiarity with Complainant’s ORANO brand and business and that Respondent is targeting the latter, (2) given Complainant’s worldwide fame, according to which Internet searches for the term “orano-group” return multiple links referencing Complainant and its business, Respondent cannot credibly claim to have been unaware of Complainant’s ORANO trademark when registering the disputed domain name, (3) Respondent is using the disputed domain name to confuse unsuspecting Internet users looking for Complainant’s services, (4) Respondent employed a privacy service to hide its identity, and (5) Respondent ignored and failed to respond to a cease-and-desist letter sent by Complainant on July 2, 2019.

B. Respondent

Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, Complainant carries the burden of proving:

(i) That the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(ii) That Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) That the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

Respondent’s default in the case at hand does not automatically result in a decision in favor of Complainant, however, paragraph 5(f) of the Rules provides that if Respondent does not submit a response, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, the Panel shall decide the dispute solely based upon the Complaint. Further, the Panel may draw such inferences as are appropriate from Respondent’s failure to submit a Response.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel concludes that the disputed domain name <orano-group.co> is confusingly similar to the ORANO trademark in which Complainant has rights.

The disputed domain name incorporates Complainant’s ORANO trademark in its entirety. Numerous UDRP panels have recognized that incorporating a trademark in its entirety can be sufficient to establish that the disputed domain name is at least confusingly similar to a registered trademark (see e.g., PepsiCo, Inc. v. PEPSI, SRL (a/k/a P.E.P.S.I.) and EMS Computer Industry (a/k/a EMS), WIPO Case No. D2003-0696). Moreover, it has been held in many UDRP decisions and has become a consensus view among UDRP panels (see WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.8), that the addition of another term (whether e.g., descriptive or meaningless) to a trademark in a domain name would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity under the first element of the UDRP. Accordingly, the addition of the descriptive term “group” does not dispel the confusing similarity arising from the incorporation of Complainant’s ORANO trademark in the disputed domain name. Also, the existence of the country-code Top-Level domain (“ccTLD”) “.co” in the disputed domain name is not in contrast to such finding either, as the ccTLD is generally viewed as a standard registration requirement and as such is disregarded under the first element test (see WIPO Overview 3.0, section 1.11)

Therefore, Complainant has established the first element under the Policy set forth by paragraph 4(a)(i).

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Panel is further convinced on the basis of Complainant’s undisputed contentions that Respondent has not made use of the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor has Respondent been commonly known by the disputed domain name, nor can it be found that Respondent has made a legitimate noncommercial or fair use thereof without intent for commercial gain.

Respondent has not been authorized to use Complainant’s ORANO trademark, either as a domain name or in any other way. Also, there is no reason to believe that Respondent’s name somehow corresponds with the disputed domain name and Respondent does not appear to have any trademark rights associated with the term “Orano”. Finally, Respondent has neither used the disputed domain name for a bona fide offering of goods or services nor for a legitimate noncommercial or fair purpose. On the contrary, the disputed domain name resolves to a typical PPC website showing a variety of hyperlinks to third parties’ websites for the obvious purpose of generating pay-per-click revenues. UDRP panels agree that using a domain name to host a PPC website does not present a bona fide offering where such links compete with or capitalize on the reputation and goodwill of the complainant’s trademark or otherwise mislead Internet users (see WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.9).

Accordingly, Complainant has established a prima facie case that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Now, the burden of production shifts to Respondent to come forward with appropriate allegations or evidence demonstrating to the contrary (see WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.1). Given that Respondent has defaulted, keeping silent on both the amended Complaint as well as Complainant’s cease-and-desist letter dated July 2, 2019, Respondent has not met that burden.

Therefore, the Panel finds that Complainant has also satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) and, thus, the second element of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Panel finally holds that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used by Respondent in bad faith.

Redirecting the disputed domain name which is confusingly similar to Complainant’s ORANO trademark to a typical PPC website which shows a variety of hyperlinks for the purpose of generating PPC revenues, is a clear indication that Respondent intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its own website by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s ORANO trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of this website. Such circumstances are evidence of registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.

In connection with this finding, it also carries weight in the eyes of the Panel that Respondent made use of a WhoIs privacy shield, apparently in an attempt to conceal its true identity. This fact is not per se illegitimate, but given that Respondent seems to have misused the contact information of a third party when registering the disputed domain name, at least throws a light on Respondent’s behavior which supports the conclusion of a bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name.

Therefore, the Panel finds that Complainant has also satisfied the third element under the Policy as set forth by paragraph 4(a)(iii).

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 <orano-group.co> be transferred to Complainant.

Stephanie G. Hartung
Sole Panelist
Date: November 11, 2019


1 It is evident from the case file that WhoisGuard, Inc., Panama is a privacy protection service and that Stephen Chomg, United Kingdom, is the underlying registrant of the disputed domain name. Therefore, unless otherwise indicated, the term “Respondent” is used by the Panel in the case at hand to refer to the latter underlying registrant only.