WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
CITGO Petroleum Corporation v. Horace A. "Woofer" Smith
Case No. D2003-0054
1. The Parties
The Complainant is CITGO Petroleum Corporation of Oklahoma, United States of America, represented by attorneys Rachel Blue and David Iandiorio of Doerner, Saunders, Daniel & Anderson of Oklahoma, United States of America.
The Respondent is Horace A. "Woofer" Smith of Texas, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <wwwcitgo.com> is registered with Go Daddy Software, Inc.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on January 24, 2003. On January 27, 2003, the Center transmitted by email to Go Daddy Software a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On January 27 and 28, 2003, Go Daddy Software transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details for the administrative, billing, and technical contact. The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Policy"), 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(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on January 29, 2003. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was February 18, 2003. An informal communication via email from Respondent was sent to the Center on February 12, 2003. Although it did not fit the usual format prescribed in the Rules for a formal Response, the Panel will treat it as such inasmuch as it is the only reply from Respondent to the Center and Respondent has indicated no objection.
The Center appointed Paul E. Mason as the sole panelist in this matter on February 27, 2003. 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 uncontested facts are as follows. According to paragraph 12 of the Complaint, Complainant is CITGO Petroleum Corporation (formerly Cities Service). It is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is a large petrochemical refiner, transporter and marketer. It holds numerous trademark registrations for the CITGO brand in many countries, including the United States where Complainant has registered some 18 trade and service marks dating back to the registration of the original "CITGO" company name in 1966.
5. Partiesí Contentions
Complainant alleges in paragraph 12 of the Complaint that Respondent registered the domain name <wwwcitgo.com>, which is a typographical variation of Complainantís own website at "www.citgo.com" without the period between the "www" and "citgo".
Complainant cites a line of UDRP cases finding that this practice of "typosquatting" creates a confusing similarity between Respondentís domain name and Complainantís trademarked name.
Complainant declares that it has not licensed the use of the CITGO name to Respondent, and that Respondent has no intellectual property rights in that name.
Complainant further alleges that Respondent has not actively used the website resolving from the disputed domain name, and that such passive holding of the domain name can constitute bad faith registration and use of the domain name. To support its contention, Complainant cited cases such as Telstra Corp. v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003 (February 18, 2000).
Respondent has not contested any of these allegations. Instead, it has stated its willingness to cancel registration and use of the domain name.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar: The Panel finds that typosquatting does exist in this case, creating a confusing similarity between Complainantís trademarked name and the disputed domain name.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests: The Panel accepts Complainantís trademark and service mark registrations as proof of its legitimate interests. The Panel finds that Respondent has no such legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith: The parties were unable to execute a proposed agreement to transfer the domain name. In the overall interests of promoting settlement of disputes, this Panel does not wish to make any inferences from the failure of these negotiations.
However, Respondent did send an email communication on January 24, 2003, to the attorneys for the Complainant indicating that Respondent meant no malice in registering the domain name, but it intended to bring visitors that made a mistake in typing to Respondentís site so that Respondent could obtain exposure. The Panel finds this sufficient to show bad faith registration, coupled with bad faith use of the domain name via passive holding.
For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the domain name <wwwcitgo.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Paul E. Mason
Dated: March 4, 2003