WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Statoil ASA (“Statoil”) v. Anoop Chetty, Telas
Case No. D2017-1884
1. The Parties
Complainant is Statoil ASA (“Statoil”) of Stavanger, Norway, represented by Valea AB, Sweden.
Respondent is Anoop Chetty, Telas of Andhra Pradesh, India, self-represented.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <statoild.info> is registered with Net 4 India Limited (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 27, 2017. On September 27, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 27, 2017, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details.
The Center verified that the 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 October 11, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 31, 2017. An email was received from the Respondent on October 14, 2017. The Center acknowledged receipt of the communication on October 16, 2017. No formal Response was filed with the Center.
The Center appointed M. Scott Donahey as the sole panelist in this matter on November 14, 2017. 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 an international energy company employing more than 22,000 people in its global operations. Complainant is the holder of numerous trademarks in countries and trademark registries around the world which date to as early as 1988. Complaint, Annex 2.
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on July 21, 2017. Complaint, Annex 1. The disputed domain name is not in use and does not resolve to a web site. Complaint, Annex 4. Respondent has registered the domain name with MXToolbox, apparently for the purpose of using the domain name for email purposes. Complaint, Annex 5. Respondent has also registered misspellings of famous trademarks in the “.info”generic Top-Level-Domain (“gTLD”) with the addition, deletion, or substitution of one letter in the famous mark. Examples include <holcime.info> (the trademark HOLCIM), <lafarger.info> (the trademark LAFARGE), <novarti.info> (the trademark NOVARTIS) and <sanofy.info> (the trade mark SANOFI). Complaint, Annex 6.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant alleges that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s well known trademark of long standing, STATOIL, that Respondent has no connection to Complainant and that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, and that Respondent has registered and is using the domain name in bad faith, in that there is no legitimate use of the disputed domain name that would not affect Complainant’s rights in the STATOIL mark.
Apart from the email of October 14, 2017, Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs the Panel as to the principles the Panel is to use in determining the dispute:
“A Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.”
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that the complainant must prove each of the following:
i) that the domain name registered by the respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and,
ii) that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and,
iii) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name consists of the Complainant’s well known mark STATOIL with the addition of the letter “d.” Panel decisions have consistently held that such small additions to trademarks or service marks do not serve to remove confusion from the mind of the average Internet user. Moreover, a google search on the use of the disputed domain name <statoild.info>, returns a message that no such domain name can be found, and suggests that the user search instead <statoil info>. Complaint, Annex 4. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s STATOIL mark.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
While the overall burden of proof in UDRP proceedings is on the complainant, panels have recognized that proving a respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in a domain name may result in the often impossible task of “proving a negative”, requiring information that is often primarily within the knowledge or control of the respondent. As such, where a complainant makes out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, the burden of production on this element shifts to the respondent to come forward with relevant evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If the respondent fails to come forward with such relevant evidence, the complainant is deemed to have satisfied the second element.
WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”),
In the present case Complainant alleges that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names and Respondent has failed to assert any such rights. Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The disputed domain name differs from Complainant’s trademark only in the addition of one letter at the end of the name. Respondent has registered other domain names in the “.info” gTLD which consist of famous marks which vary in only one letter and which are confusingly similar to other trademarks. All of these domain names, including the disputed domain name, have no conceivable use other than to suggest that they are affiliated with the famous trademarks they approximate. In addition Respondent has registered the trademark with MXToolbox showing a possible intent to use the disputed domain name in an email address. Therefore, the Panel finds that disputed domain name has been 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, <statoild.info>, be transferred to the Complainant.
M. Scott Donahey
Date: November 15, 2017