WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Sodexo v. 李厚昌 (Li Hou Chang)

Case No. DCO2021-0026

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Sodexo, France, represented by Areopage, France.

The Respondent is 李厚昌 (Li Hou Chang), China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <sodexomyway.co> is registered with Alibaba Cloud Computing Ltd. d/b/a HiChina (www.net.cn) (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed in English with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 14, 2021. On April 14, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 15, 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 the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on April 20, 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 in English on April 23, 2021.

On April 20, 2021, the Center transmitted an email in English and Chinese to the Parties regarding the language of the proceeding. The Complainant confirmed the request that English be the language of the proceeding on April 23, 2021. The Respondent did not comment on the language of the proceeding.

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 in English and Chinese, and the proceedings commenced on May 10, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was May 30, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 8, 2021.

The Center appointed Joseph Simone as the sole panelist in this matter on June 24, 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

The Complainant, Sodexo, was founded in 1966 and is one of the largest food services and facilities management companies in the world, with 470,000 employees serving 100 million consumers in 67 countries.

The Complainant provides restaurant and catering services, as well as facility management services, workplace services, benefits and rewards services, and personal and home services.

The Complainant has an extensive global portfolio of SODEXO trade marks, which includes the following:

- International Trade Mark Registration No. 964615 for SODEXO (figurative mark) in Classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44 and 45 extended to China, Russian Federation, Singapore, United States of America, etc., registered on January 8, 2008;

- International Trade Mark Registration No. 1240316 for SODEXO (word mark) in Classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44 and 45 extended to United Kingdom, etc., registered on October 23, 2014;

- International Trade Mark Registration No. 1195702 for SODEXO QUALITY OF LIFE SERVICES (figurative mark) in Classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44 and 45 extended to Australia, China, and the United States of America, registered on October 10, 2013.

The disputed domain name was registered on June 4, 2020.

The Complainant asserts that at the time of filing of the Complaint, the disputed domain name resolved to an error page. At the time of this decision, the disputed domain name resolves to an official .co page requesting that the registrant update its registration details.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant asserts that it has prior rights in the SODEXO trade mark and that it is a leading operator in its fields of business.

The Complainant further notes that the disputed domain name is composed of the mark SODEXO and the expression “my way” and that the SODEXO trade mark is clearly the predominant and most distinctive element of the disputed domain name. The Complainant argues that the addition of the expression “my way” is not sufficient to distinguish it from the Complainant’s SODEXO trade mark, especially in view of the fact that the Complainant has used the term “myway” by Sodexo in connection with its business activities.

The Complainant asserts that it has not authorized the Respondent to use the SODEXO mark, and there is no evidence to suggest that the Respondent has used, or undertaken any demonstrable preparations to use, the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.

The Complainant further asserts that, considering the evidence, it is implausible that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in good faith, and that any use of the disputed domain name must be in bad faith.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Language of the Proceeding

In accordance with paragraph 11 of the Rules:

“[…] the language of the administrative proceeding shall be the language of the Registration Agreement, subject to the authority of the Panel to determine otherwise, having regard to the circumstances of the administrative proceeding.”

In this case, the language of the Registration Agreement for the disputed domain name is in Chinese.

However, the Complainant filed the Complaint in English, and requested the Panel to consider using English as the language of the proceeding, asserting that:

- The Complainant is not familiar with the Chinese language. The Complainant would have to incur substantial expenses if the Complainant were to submit all documents in the language of the Registration Agreement, and the proceeding would inevitably be unduly delayed; and

- The disputed domain name is registered in Latin script and is composed of English words (“my” and “way”).

The Respondent was notified in both Chinese and English of the language of the proceeding and the Complaint and did not object to the Complainant’s request that English be the language of the proceeding or submit any response.

Accordingly, the Panel has determined that the language of the proceeding shall be English, and the Panel has issued this decision in English.

B. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel acknowledges that the Complainant has established rights in the SODEXO trade mark in many territories around the world.

The disputed domain name incorporates the SODEXO trade mark in its entirety. Thus, the disputed domain name should be regarded as confusingly similar to the Complainant’s SODEXO trade mark, notwithstanding the inclusion of the terms “my” and “way”.

The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy by establishing its rights in the SODEXO trade mark and showing that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its mark.

C. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Pursuant to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, the complainant is required to make out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name. Once such a prima facie case is made, the respondent carries the burden of producing evidence in support of its rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. If the respondent fails to do so, the complainant may be deemed to have satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 2.1.

In this case, the Complainant has not authorized the Respondent to use its trade mark, and there is no evidence to suggest that the Respondent has used, or undertaken any demonstrable preparations to use, the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.

Thus, the Complainant has established its prima facie case with sufficient evidence.

The Respondent did not file a response and has therefore failed to assert factors or put forth evidence to establish that he enjoys rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. As such, the Panel concludes that the Respondent failed to rebut the Complainant’s prima facie showing of the Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and that none of the circumstances of paragraph 4(c) of the Policy are evident in this case.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy states that any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, shall be considered evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:

(i) circumstances indicating that the respondent registered or acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant (the owner of the trademark or service mark) or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the respondent’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or

(ii) circumstances indicating that the respondent registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that the respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) circumstances indicating that the respondent registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) circumstances indicating that the respondent is using the domain name to intentionally attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on its website or location.

The examples of bad faith registration and use set forth in paragraph 4(b) of the Policy are not meant to be exhaustive of all circumstances from which such bad faith may be found. See Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003. The overriding objective of the Policy is to curb the abusive registration of domain names in circumstances where the registrant seeks to profit from and exploit the trade mark of another. Match.com, LP v. Bill Zag and NWLAWS.ORG, WIPO Case No. D2004-0230.

For the reasons discussed under this and the preceding heading, the Panel considers that the Respondent’s conduct in this case constitutes bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name within the meaning of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy. In the Panel’s assessment, the Respondent should have been aware of the Complainant’s marks when registering the disputed domain name, given the extensive prior use and fame of these marks.

When the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in June 2020, the SODEXO trade marks were already widely known and directly associated with the Complainant’s activities.

The Respondent has provided no evidence to justify his registration of the disputed domain name. Given the foregoing, it would be unreasonable to conclude that at the time of the registration of the disputed domain name the Respondent was unaware of the Complainant’s trade marks, or that the Respondent’s adoption of the uncommon and distinctive name “sodexo” was a mere coincidence.

The Complainant’s initial registration and use of the SODEXO trade marks precedes the registration date of the disputed domain name by decade. A simple search on an online search engine against the term “sodexo” would have no doubt revealed that it is a world-renowned brand.

Given the foregoing, the Panel takes the view that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name with full knowledge of the Complainant’s trade mark rights and with the intention of taking advantage of the fame and reputation of the Complainant’s trade marks. In doing so, the Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name to create a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trade and potentially deprived the Complainant of the opportunity to offer its products to prospective customers through the disputed domain name.

The Panel is therefore of the view that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name with knowledge of the Complainant’s trade mark rights and with the intention of taking advantage of the fame and reputation of the Complainant’s trade mark. The fact that the disputed domain name does not resolve to an active website does not preclude a finding of bad faith.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith pursuant to paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

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 <sodexomyway.co> be transferred to the Complainant.

Joseph Simone
Sole Panelist
Date: July 7, 2021