WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
NORDNET v. LaPorte Holdings
Case No. D2005-1217
1. The Parties
The Complainant is NORDNET, Hem, of France, represented by Fidal Law Society, France.
The Respondent is LaPorte Holdings, Los Angeles, California, of United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <wwwsecuritoo.com> is registered with NameKing.com.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 24, 2005. On November 25, 2005, the Center transmitted by email to NameKing.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On November 28, 2005, NameKing.com 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. In response to a notification by the Center that the Complaint was administratively deficient, the Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on December 7, 2005. The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to 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 December 8, 2005. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for the Response was December 28, 2005. The Respondent did not submit any Response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 29, 2005.
The Center appointed Günter Pickrahn as the sole panelist in this matter on January 16, 2006. 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 Complainant is a French company developing and selling antivirus, firewalls, parental control software and professional control software products. It conducts its business through its “www.securitoo.com” website. This website is accessible also through other domain names, including inter alia the domain names <securitoo.biz>, <securitoo.fr>, <securitoo.info>, <securitoo.net>, and various other domain names including the name “securitoo” or modifications thereof.
The Complainant is the registered proprietor of the French trademark SECURITOO No. 013085251 dated February 26, 2001 in Classes 9, 16, 35, 38, 41 and 42, and the word and design trademark No. 023166908 dated May 31, 2002 in Classes 9, 16, 35, 38, 41, 42 and 45. In addition, it holds the community trademark “SECURITOO” No. EM 2337343 dated August 10, 2001 in Classes 9, 16, 35, 38, 41 and 42.
The Respondent has been a party to numerous UDRP cases in which it was found to have registered domain names, which closely resemble well-known trademarks, in a form commonly known as “typo squatting”.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant argued that Respondent’s domain name <wwwsecuritoo.com> is almost identical or, at least, confusingly similar to its trademark SECURITOO since the addition of the prefix “www” before “securitoo” did not affect the similarity between the domain name and Complainant’s trademark. It asserted that Respondent used its domain name to give access to a linking portal offering links towards other websites through which products that are similar to Complainant’s products were sold or offered for free. The Complainant stressed that, if a consumer did not realize that he or she made a typographical error, he or she could assume that she or he reached Complainant’s website.
It is Complainant’s position that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name <wwwsecuritoo.com>. The Complainant asserted that Respondent is not linked in any way to Complainant and has no license or other right to use the SECURITOO trademark. Complainant believes that Respondent has deliberately chosen that domain name to redirect internet users to websites containing links to other commercial websites offering similar products and services.
According to Complainant Respondent has registered and used the domain name in bad faith. It stated that LaPorte Holdings Inc. was an alter ego for Henry Chan, a notorious cyber squatter, that also does business as Horoshiy, Inc. The Complainant referred to numerous decisions in which Respondent or its alter egos Henry Chan or Horoshiy, Inc. were found to have engaged in typo squatting. Due to the fact that Respondent’s website provides hyperlinks to other websites where antivirus, firewalls, and security solutions are offered, the Complainant assumes that Respondent derives a financial benefit from the web traffic generated via its website to the detriment of both the image and the traffic of Complainant’s www.securitoo.com website.
For these reasons, the Complainant requests that this panel issue a decision that <wwwsecuritoo.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Under the Policy (paragraph 4 a) the Complainant must prove that
(i) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
However, under Rule 14(b) of the Rules the Panel is authorized to draw such inferences which it considers appropriate from the Respondent’s failure to comply with a provision or requirement of the Rules.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has provided evidence of ownership of various trademarks concerning the mark SECURITOO. The Panel finds that Respondent’s domain name <wwwsecuritoo.com> is confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademarks. It is well accepted that, when comparing Complainant’s trademarks with the domain name, the suffix “.com” must be disregarded because it is merely a functional component of the domain name (see, for example, AstraZeneca plc vs. Dreamlight, WIPO case No. D2005-1010). In accordance with numerous decisions the Panel also holds that the prefix “www” is not capable of distinguishing Respondent’s domain name from Complainant’s trademark. The prefix “www” is the acronym for “world wide web” and has in the internet world no distinguishing capacity in the context of domain names (see, for example, AstraZeneca plc vs. Dreamlight, WIPO case No. D2005-1010; Reuters Limited vs. Global Net 2000, Inc., WIPO case No. D2000-0441).
The Panel, therefore, finds that the domain name and the trademark SECURITOO are confusingly similar.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
In principle, the Complainant must show that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in respect of the disputed domain name. Under paragraph 4(c) of the Policy the Respondent may establish a right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name by demonstrating
a) that it has made preparations to use the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services prior to the dispute; or
b) that it is commonly known by the domain name, even if it has not acquired any trademark rights; or
c) that it intends to make a legitimate, noncommercial or fair use of the domain name without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark.
Since Respondent failed to submit a Response, it failed to establish any circumstance which could, pursuant to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, demonstrate any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. On the contrary, the Complainant put forward evidence showing that Respondent used the disputed domain name to mislead and divert consumers by using the disputed domain name for a website which provides hyperlinks to other websites offering products that compete with the Complainant’s products. The Complainant stressed that it never granted to Respondent any license or other right to use its trademark SECURITOO.
The Panel, therefore, holds that there is conclusive evidence that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides for four (non exclusive) circumstances which indicate that the registration and use of the domain name was in bad faith. Among others, the use of a domain name by the registrant to intentionally attempt to attract, for commercial gain, internet users to the registrant’s website or other online locations by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the registrant’s website or location or of a product or service on the registrant’s website or location should constitute a registration and use in bad faith. By submitting screen shots of Respondent’s website at “www.wwwsecuritoo.com” the Complainant submitted evidence that the Respondent used the disputed domain name in order to create a likelihood of confusion to attract internet users to its website which provided hyperlinks to other websites offering products that were similar to the Complainant’s products. This, at least, constitutes a prima-facie case which in the Panel’s view required Respondent to demonstrate that it did not register and use the domain name in bad faith. Since Respondent failed to do so, Complainant is deemed to have satisfied paragraph 4(b) of the Policy. In light of these circumstances, the Panel concludes that the Respondent’s passive holding of the domain name satisfies also the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy that the domain name “is being used in bad faith” by Respondent.
In addition, and even more important, Respondent has already been involved in numerous cases and found to have engaged in cyber squatting (LDLC.com vs. LaPorte Holdings, WIPO case No. D2005-0687; Société Française du Radiotéléphone – SFR vs. LaPorte Holdings, WIPO case No. D2004-0926; Claire’s Stores, Inc., Claire’s Boutiques, Inc., CBI Distribution Corp. vs. LaPorte Holdings, WIPO case No. D2005-0589; Crédit Industriel et Commercial S.A. vs. LaPorte Holdings, WIPO case No. D2005-0473; Société des Bains de Mer et du Cercle des Etrangers à Monaco vs. LaPorte Holdings, LLC, WIPO Case No. D2005-0526). These cases indicate a pattern of bad faith behavior by Respondent. These cases in itself would constitute sufficient evidence that Respondent is a notorious cyber squatter. Complainant’s referral to numerous other decisions in which Henry Chan or Horoshiy, Inc. were found to be accused of cyber squatting only contribute to the conviction of this Panel that Respondent is an alter ego for Henry Chan or Horoshiy, Inc. and was registering and has been using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Accordingly, this Panel concludes that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name <wwwsecuritoo.com> in bad faith.
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 <wwwsecuritoo.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: January 25, 2006