WIPO

 

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

 

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Staples, Inc., Staples Contract & Commercial, Inc., Staples The Office Superstore, Inc. v. John Sansone

Case No. D2004-0018

 

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Staples, Inc., Staples Contract & Commercial, Inc., and Staples The Office Superstore, Inc., all located at Framingham, Massachusetts, United States of America, represented by Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C., United States of America.

The Respondent is John Sansone, Denver, Colorado, United States of America.

 

2. The Domain Names and Registrar

The disputed domain names <ataples.com>, <sstaples.com>, <staaples.com>, <staoles.com> are registered with eNom.

 

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on January 9, 2004. On January 13, 2004, the Center transmitted by email a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain names at issue to

eNom, who failed to submit a verification response. Therefore, the Center made a Whois printout on January 15, 2004, which showed that the disputed domain name was registered with eNom, and that the Respondent was the current registrant of the disputed domain name. 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 15, 2004. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was February 4, 2004. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center sent notification of the Respondentís default on February 5, 2004.

The Center appointed Sandra Franklin as the sole panelist in this matter on February 18, 2004. 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 Staples is a well-known retailer of office supplies, business services, furniture and technology to consumers and businesses in the United States and Europe. It owns registered trademarks for Staples dating back to 1986, and has used <staples.com> and similar domain names for on-line merchandising since 1998.

Respondent registered 4 misspellings of <staples.com> at the same time in 2000.

 

5. Partiesí Contentions

A. Complainant

Complainant makes the following assertions:

1. Respondentís domain names <ataples.com>, <sstaples.com>, <staaples.com>, <staoles.com> are confusingly similar to Complainantís STAPLES mark.

2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <ataples.com>, <sstaples.com>, <staaples.com>, <staoles.com> domain names.

3. Respondent registered and used the <ataples.com>, <sstaples.com>, <staaples.com>, <staoles.com> domain names in bad faith.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainantís contentions.

 

6. Discussion and Findings

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."

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(e), 14(a) and 15(a) of the Rules and draw such inferences it considers appropriate pursuant to paragraph 14(b) of the Rules.

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 names registered by Respondent are 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 the domain names; and

(3) the domain names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Complainant has established rights in its mark STAPLES through registration of the mark on the Principal Register of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, as well as through continuous use of the mark in commerce since as early as 1986.

Respondentís domain names <ataples.com>, <sstaples.com>, <staaples.com>, <staoles.com> are confusingly similar to Complainantís well-known STAPLES mark, as they are each only one letter different from Complainantís mark. The deletion or addition of one letter is an insignificant change for the purposes of Policy ∂ 4(a)(i). See Reuters Ltd. v. Global Net 2000, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0441 (July 13, 2000) finding that a domain name which differs by only one letter from a trademark has a greater tendency to be confusingly similar to the trademark where the trademark is highly distinctive; see also Universal City Studios, Inc. v. HarperStephens, WIPO Case No. D2000-0716 (September 5, 2000) finding that deleting the letter "s" from Complainantís UNIVERSAL STUDIOS STORE mark did not change the overall impression of the mark and thus made the disputed domain name confusingly similar to it.

The one-letter difference of each of Respondentís domain names render them nonsensical, suggesting that Respondent chose them specifically because they are confusingly similar to Complainantís well-known mark.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the <ataples.com>, <sstaples.com>, <staaples.com>, <staoles.com> domain names are confusingly similar to Complainantís STAPLES mark under Policy ∂ 4(a)(i).

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant, does not offer goods under <ataples.com>, <sstaples.com>, <staaples.com>, <staoles.com> and certainly is not known by such nonsensical names. The Respondentís domain names <ataples.com>, <sstaples.com>, <staaples.com>, <staoles.com> are linked to a third party and one of Complainantís chief competitors, OfficeMax, a further indication that Respondent does not have any rights in the domain names.

Moreover, based on the Respondentís failure to respond to the Complainantís allegations, the Panel assumes the Respondent has no rights to or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. See Geocities v. Geociites.com, WIPO Case No. D2000-0326, finding that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name because the Respondent never submitted a Response or provided the Panel with evidence to suggest otherwise; see also Pavillion Agency, Inc., Cliff Greenhouse and Keith Greenhouse v. Greenhouse Agency Ltd., and Glenn Greenhouse, WIPO Case No. D2000-1221, finding that Respondentsí failure to respond can be construed as an admission that they have no legitimate interest in the domain names.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has established Policy paragraph 4(a)(ii).

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Respondentís registration of 4 domain names that differ by only one letter from Complainantís well-known STAPLES mark supports the inference that Respondent had actual knowledge of Complainantís rights in that mark when it registered the domain names. See America Online, Inc. v. Xianfeng Fu, WIPO Case No. D2000-1374 (December 11, 2000) finding that the Respondentís domain names are so obviously connected with Complainant that the use of the domain names by Respondent, who has no connection with Complainant, suggests opportunistic bad faith. See also The Sportsmanís Guide, Inc. v Vipercom, WIPO Case No. D2003-0145 (April 10, 2003) noting that intentional misspelling, known as "typosquatting", is itself evidence of bad faith.

Furthermore, Respondent is clearly intending to disrupt Complainantís business by redirecting traffic to one of Complainantís major competitors. See Marriott International, Inc. v. Kyznetsov, NAF Case No. FA0009000956648, (October 24, 2000), finding bad faith where Respondent registered <marriottrewards.com> and used it to route Internet traffic to another website that "promotes travel and hotel services Ö identical to the services offered by Complainant".

The Panel thus finds that Respondent registered and used the domain names <ataples.com>, <sstaples.com>, <staaples.com>, <staoles.com> in bad faith, and that Policy ∂ 4(a)(iii) is satisfied.

 

7. Decision

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 names <ataples.com>, <sstaples.com>, <staaples.com>, <staoles.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

 


 

Sandra Franklin
Sole Panelist

Date: February 26, 2004