WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Adams and Remers LLP v. Michael Hallier/Whois Agent, Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc.
Case No. DME2015-0005
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Adams and Remers LLP of Lewes, Sussex, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“United Kingdom”), represented by Adams & Remers LLP, United Kingdom.
The Respondent is Michael Hallier of Adrian, Minnesota, United States of America; Whois Agent, Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc. of Kirkland, Washington, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <adamsandremers.me> is registered with Name.com LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 17, 2015. On June 17, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On June 17, 2015, 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 June 19, 2015 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 June 24, 2015.
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”) as adopted by doMEn, d.o.o. (doMEn), the registry operator of the .ME TLD on April 30, 2008, the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Rules”) approved by doMEn on October 1, 2012, and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Supplemental Rules”).
In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on June 29, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 19, 2015. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on July 20, 2015.
The Center appointed Desmond J. Ryan as the sole panelist in this matter on July 24, 2015. 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 disputed domain name was created on January 6, 2015.
The Complainant is a firm of solicitors practicing in the United Kingdom. One of the partners of the firm is Simon Jones. The Complainant is the registered proprietor of United Kingdom Trademark No. 00002515077 dated May 1, 2009 ADAMS & REMERS in respect of a range of legal services and other related services. It traces its origins back to 1924 and claims to be well-known and highly regarded in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in relation to a range of property, corporate, commercial and private client practice areas.
On March 30, 2015, a client of the Complainant forwarded to a partner of the firm a copy of an email dated March 24, 2015 which the client had received. The email purported to be from Mr. Jones stating that he was “a freelance independent external audit expert assisting a private financial institution here in Britain” and offering to assist in arranging funds transfer in the United Kingdom. The email gave an address for Mr. Jones at the disputed domain name.
On April 27, 2015, the Complainant sent an email to the Respondent asserting fraud, passing off and trademark infringement and demanding immediate cessation of the use of the disputed domain name and the redirection of it to the Complainant’s website at “www.adamsandremers.com”. The Respondent did not respond to this email however, the Panel notes that from at least June 29, 2015 the disputed domain name has been redirected to the Complainant’s website. However, the disputed domain name has not been cancelled or transferred to the Complainant and remains in the name of the Respondent.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant’s contentions may be summarized as follows:
(i) The disputed domain name is identical or at least confusingly similar to the Complainant’s name and trademark ADAMS & REMERS, in which the Complainant has rights by virtue of its registration and use and reputation.
(ii) The Respondent has no connection with the Complainant and the Complainant has not licensed or authorized others to use its name or trademark and there is no evidence of any use or preparations for use in connection with the bona fide offering of goods or services, or of any legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name by the Respondent.
(iii) The disputed domain name has been used for commercial gain as an email address to mislead email recipients into believing they were being offered the services of a reputable law firm and to persuade them to transfer funds and/or disclose confidential banking information.
The Respondent did not file a response.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Apart from the addition of the country code “me” and the rendition of the Complainant’s name and trademark in an acceptable URL form, the disputed domain name wholly incorporates the Complainant’s trademark. Neither of those differences serve to distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainant’s trademark in any material way. Accordingly the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is substantially identical and/or is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant asserts that it has not licensed or otherwise authorized the Respondent to use its trademark and is not in any way connected to the Respondent. The Respondent is not commonly known by a name corresponding to the disputed domain name. The Complainant contends that the use which has been made of the disputed domain name by the Respondent has been for the purpose of impersonating a partner of the Complainant’s firm for the purpose of attracting and deceiving clients. That use cannot be a use of the disputed domain name in connection with the bona fide offering of goods or services nor can it be a legitimate or noncommercial or fair use.
The Respondent had an opportunity to rebut the Complainant’s contentions but it failed to do so. The Panel therefore accepts the Complainant’s contentions and finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
As noted in paragraph 6.B above the Respondent has used the disputed domain name for the purpose of impersonating a partner in the Complainant’s law firm and to illicit the transfer of funds and/or the provision of confidential banking information. The disputed domain name has therefore been used as an instrument for the perpetration of a fraud. It is clearly a use intended to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the Complainant’s online address thereby creating confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the service being offered at that location. Such use is clearly fraudulent and in bad faith.
The disputed domain name is the unique name of the Complainant’s law firm. The incorporation of that name and its subsequent fraudulent use leads inevitably to the conclusion that the disputed domain name was registered for the purpose of perpetrating such fraud.
The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
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 <adamsandremers.me> be transferred to the Complainant.
Desmond J. Ryan AM
Date: July 30, 2015