WPEngine, Inc. v. George Washere
Claim Number: FA1809001809561
Complainant is WPEngine, Inc. (“Complainant”), represented by Brian A. Hall of Traverse Legal, PLC d/b/a Hall Law, Texas. Respondent is George Washere (“Respondent”), Panama.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <wpeninge.com>, registered with eNom, LLC.
The undersigned certifies that he has acted independently and impartially and to the best of his knowledge has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding.
Paul M. DeCicco, as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the Forum electronically on September 28, 2018; the Forum received payment on September 28, 2018.
On September 28, 2018, eNom, LLC confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <wpeninge.com> domain name is registered with eNom, LLC and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. eNom, LLC has verified that Respondent is bound by the eNom, LLC registration agreement and has thereby agreed to resolve domain disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”).
On October 1, 2018, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint, setting a deadline of October 22, 2018 by which Respondent could file a Response to the Complaint, via e-mail to all entities and persons listed on Respondent’s registration as technical, administrative, and billing contacts, and to email@example.com. Also on October 1, 2018, the Written Notice of the Complaint, notifying Respondent of the e-mail addresses served and the deadline for a Response, was transmitted to Respondent via post and fax, to all entities and persons listed on Respondent’s registration as technical, administrative and billing contacts.
Having received no response from Respondent, the Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
On October 28, 2018, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed Paul M. DeCicco as Panelist.
Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the "Panel") finds that the Forum has discharged its responsibility under Paragraph 2(a) of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Rules") "to employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice to Respondent" through submission of Electronic and Written Notices, as defined in Rule 1 and Rule 2. Therefore, the Panel may issue its decision based on the documents submitted and in accordance with the ICANN Policy, ICANN Rules, the Forum's Supplemental Rules and any rules and principles of law that the Panel deems applicable, without the benefit of any response from Respondent.
Complainant requests that the domain name be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.
Complainant contends as follows:
Complainant, WPEngine, Inc., has offered website hosting and related services continuously and exclusively under the WP ENGINE mark since as early as May 1, 2010.
Complainant has rights in the WP ENGINE mark based upon its registration of the mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”).
Respondent’s <wpeninge.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark because Respondent includes the entire mark in the disputed domain name differing only by a few letters.
Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the <wpeninge.com> domain name because Respondent is not commonly known by the domain name and is not authorized by Complainant to use the WP ENGINE mark in any way. Additionally, Respondent fails to use the at-issue domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services or for a legitimate noncommercial or fair use. Instead, Respondent attempts to commercially gain by diverting Internet users to a webpage that attempts to download apparent malware or at times, a parked page.
Respondent registered and uses the <wpeninge.com> domain name in bad faith because Respondent attempts to disrupt Complainant’s business by redirecting Internet users to a webpage that attempts to install malware. Additionally, Respondent may potentially use the domain name and malware to phish for Internet users’ personal information. Furthermore, Respondent attempts to attract third parties for commercial gain, by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, of endorsement of Complainant’s website.
Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant has rights in the WP ENGINE mark through its registration of such mark with the USPTO.
Respondent is not affiliated with Complainant and had not been authorized to use Complainant’s trademark in any capacity.
Respondent registered the at‑issue domain name after Complainant acquired rights in the WP ENGINE trademark.
Respondent uses the at-issue domain name to address webpages that install malware and may otherwise inappropriately benefit Respondent.
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs this Panel to "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 requires that Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred:
(1) the domain name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(2) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
In view of Respondent's failure to submit a response, the Panel shall decide this administrative proceeding on the basis of Complainant's undisputed representations pursuant to paragraphs 5(f), 14(a) and 15(a) of the Rules and draw such inferences it considers appropriate pursuant to paragraph 14(b) of the Rules. The Panel is entitled to accept all reasonable allegations and inferences set forth in the Complaint as true unless the evidence is clearly contradictory. See Vertical Solutions Mgmt., Inc. v. webnet-marketing, inc., FA 95095 (Forum July 31, 2000) (holding that the respondent’s failure to respond allows all reasonable inferences of fact in the allegations of the complaint to be deemed true); see also Talk City, Inc. v. Robertson, D2000-0009 (WIPO Feb. 29, 2000) (“In the absence of a response, it is appropriate to accept as true all allegations of the Complaint.”).
The at-issue domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which Complainant has rights.
Complainant shows it has registered its WP ENGINE mark with the USPTO. A USPTO registration is convincing evidence of Complainant’s rights in the WP ENGINE mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Microsoft Corp. v. Burkes, FA 652743 (Forum Apr. 17, 2006) (“Complainant has established rights in the MICROSOFT mark through registration of the mark with the USPTO.”).
Next, Respondent’s domain name starts with the first term of Complainant’s WP ENGINE trademark (WP), omits the domain name impermissible space found in the mark, adds a misspelling/mistyping of the mark’s second term “engine” transposing the term’s “g” to yield “eninge,” and concludes with the top level domain name “.com”. The differences between Respondent’s <wpeninge.com> domain name and Complainant’s trademark are insufficient to distinguish one from the other for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). Therefore, the Panel concludes that Respondent’s <wpeninge.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s WP ENGINE trademark. See RetailMeNot, Inc. v. Domain Admin / Private Registrations Aktien Gesellschaft, FA 1625879 (Forum Aug. 6, 2015) (finding confusing similarity while Respondent merely transposed the letters “a” and “t” in the RETAILMENOT mark in crafting the <reatilmenot.com> domain name).
Under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii), Complainant must first make out a prima facie case showing that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in respect of an at-issue domain name and then the burden, in effect, shifts to Respondent to come forward with evidence of its rights or legitimate interests. See Hanna-Barbera Prods., Inc. v. Entm’t Commentaries, FA 741828 (Forum Aug. 18, 2006). Since Respondent failed to respond, Complainant’s prima facie showing acts conclusively.
Respondent lacks both rights and legitimate interests in respect of the at-issue domain name. Respondent is not authorized to use Complainant’s trademark in any capacity and, as discussed below, there are no Policy ¶4(c) circumstances from which the Panel might find that Respondent has rights or interests in respect of the at‑issue domain name.
WHOIS information for the at-issue domain name identifies the domain name’s registrant as “George Washere” and the record before the Panel contains no evidence that otherwise tends to prove that Respondent is commonly known by the <wpeninge.com> domain name. The Panel therefore concludes that Respondent is not commonly known by the <wpeninge.com> domain name for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Coppertown Drive-Thru Sys., LLC v. Snowden, FA 715089 (Forum July 17, 2006) (concluding that the respondent was not commonly known by the <coppertown.com> domain name where there was no evidence in the record, including the WHOIS information, suggesting that the respondent was commonly known by the disputed domain name).
Moreover, Respondent’s confusingly similar <wpeninge.com>domain name addresses what appears to be a parking page, or temporal array of such pages, some of which download malware. Using the domain name in this manner is neither a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶4(c)(i), nor a non-commercial or fair use pursuant to Policy ¶4(c)(iii). See Baker v. J M, FA 1259254 (Forum June 12, 2009) (concluding that the hosting of a virus that activates when an internet user accesses the resolving website does not demonstrate rights and legitimate interests in a disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii); see also Gold Medal Travel Grp. plc v. Kruzicevic, D2007-1902 (WIPO Mar. 12, 2008) (where the disputed domain name had been parked, the panel found the “the Registrant is responsible for the content of the material appearing on the webpage associated with the domain name in dispute.”)
Given the forgoing, Complainant satisfies its initial burden and conclusively demonstrates Respondent’s lack of rights and lack of interests in respect of the at-issue domain name pursuant to Policy ¶4(a)(ii).
The at-issue domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. As discussed below without limitation, bad faith circumstances are present from which the Panel concludes that Respondent acted in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶4(a)(iii).
As mentioned above regarding rights and legitimate interest, Respondent uses the confusingly similar domain name to address an array of various time dependent webpages, some that downloads malware. Such use of the domain name is disruptive to Complainant’s business and creates a likelihood of confusion with Complainant mark regarding the sponsorship of the domain name and its referenced webpages. Respondent’s bad faith registration and use of the domain name is thereby indicated under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii) and (iv). See PopSockets LLC v. san mao, FA 1740903 (Forum Aug. 27, 2017) (finding disruption of a complainant’s business which was not directly commercial competitive behavior was nonetheless sufficient to establish bad faith registration and use per Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii)); see also Microsoft Corporation v. Story Remix / Inofficial, FA 1734934 (Forum July 10, 2017) (finding bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) where the respondent was diverting Internet users searching for the complainant to its own website and likely profiting).
Furthermore, using the <wpeninge.com> domain name to install malware is itself evidence of Respondent’s bad faith. See eNom, Incorporated v. Muhammad Enoms General delivery etc., FA1505001621663 (Forum July 2, 2015) (“In addition, Respondent has used the disputed domain name to install malware on Internet users’ devices. The Panel finds that this is bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii).”).
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <wpeninge.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Paul M. DeCicco, Panelist
Dated: October 28, 2018
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