WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
The Knot, Inc. v. Alexis Luongo
Case No. D2006-0296
1. The Parties
The Complainant is The Knot, Inc., New York, New York, United States of America, represented by the law firm Kenyon & Kenyon, New York, New York United States of America.
The Respondent is Alexis Luongo, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <tehknot.com> is registered with eNom.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 8, 2006. On March 9, 2006, the Center transmitted by email to eNom a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name(s) at issue, and eNom 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 March 14, 2006.
On March 27, 2006, one Rose Ann Estep sent an email to Complainant’s attorney, stating that a Richard Grasso owned the disputed domain name, and that Mr. Grasso requested an “administrative review of the matter”. The next day Mr. Grasso made a similar request to the Center by email. Complainant’s attorney referred Ms. Estep and Mr. Grasso to the Center and the Rules.
In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was April 3, 2006. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly the Center notified the Respondent’s default on April 5, 2006.
The Center appointed Richard G. Lyon as the sole panelist in this matter on April 11, 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.
In its discretion under paragraph 12 of the Rules, the Panel determines to consider Respondent’s emails in resolving this matter.
The Panel finds that is has jurisdiction to resolve this proceeding by virtue of Respondent’s agreement with the registrar when it registered the disputed domain name. The registrar’s response to the Center confirms that the registrant is Alexis Luongo, so Complainant has brought this proceeding against the proper Respondent.
4. Factual Background
Complainant is a publicly traded United States company that provides products and services to couples for planning weddings and their subsequent lives together. For example, Complainant’s website at “www.theknot.com” includes planning checklists for weddings, allows a couple to set up a web page devoted exclusively to their wedding, and lists information helpful to prospective wedding guests. Complainant also publishes national and regional wedding magazines that incorporate the words “the knot”. In addition to its corporate name and website, Complainant owns numerous trademarks, registered on the principal register of the United States Trademark Office, that include the words “the knot”. Copies of trademark registrations annexed to the Complaint indicate use in commerce from 1997.
The only information about Respondent comes from the Registrar’s response to the Center’s inquiry for contact information on the disputed domain name, and comparable information submitted as an exhibit to the Complaint. Alexis Luongo appears to be an individual residing in Los Angeles, California, United States of America. Respondent’s email correspondence referred to above includes statements that in fact Richard Grasso owns the disputed domain name.
At one time the disputed domain name resolved to another website, “www.wedtoday.com”, a commercial site with a wedding theme that includes links to wedding-related products and services (for example, “Summer beach wedding special Malibu package $495, includes marriage license”). (Complaint, Exhibit D). The Panel attempted to access the disputed domain name on April 13, 2006, and reached this website. Instead of a page with wedding scenes and links, described in the Complaint and illustrated in Exhibit D, there were links to well-known websites such as eBay and “msn.com”, and a statement “Do you intend to go to one of these similar website addresses? ‘www.TheKnot.com’; ‘www.TheKnot.net’; ‘www.TieTheKnot.com’; and ‘www.TieTheKnot.org’”. A user may click on any of the three of these not owned by Complainant and be linked that site, at which the site’s owner offers wedding-related products and services. Though Complainant’s domain name is underscored like the other three, there is no hyperlink to Complainant’s website.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant contends as follows:
Confusingly similar to a mark in which Complainant has rights. The disputed domain name differs from Complainant’s registered trademark (and corporate name and website) only by transposition of the first two letters. As such, this is a textbook example of typosquatting. The disputed domain name is confusingly similar because of the minor change made and the likelihood that an Internet user seeking Complainant’s site will accidentally mistype the first two letters and thus reach Respondent’s site.
No rights or legitimate interests. Respondent has no trademark registration for and has no apparent common-law rights in the disputed domain name; it does not hold itself out as and is not otherwise known as “TehKnot”; Respondent’s site is commercial because of the hyperlinks and the click-through revenue presumably available from those hyperlinks. The fact that several hyperlinks are to Complainant’s competitors only makes matters worse.
Bad faith. Respondent’s bad faith is demonstrated by his typosquatting, which by itself is strong evidence of bad faith. Similarity to the mark of another, particularly when used by a competitor, indicates both knowledge of the competitor’s mark and an intentional act to suborn the competitor’s mark for the typosquatter own commercial advantage. As such, the requirements of paragraphs 4(b)(iii) and 4(b)(iv) of the Policy have been met.
As noted, no formal Response was submitted. Respondent’s sole contention is contained in the email correspondence referred to above. The Panel quotes this in full “[Respondent] believes that the use of the [disputed] domain name does not constitute a bad faith gesture, and the [disputed] domain name was never used in bad faith”.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Preliminary Issue
Ordinarily the Panel in a default case must verify that the Respondent actually received due notice of this proceeding, so that, under Paragraph 10(b) of the Rules, he is “given a fair opportunity to present its case”. In this proceeding the email correspondence from Ms. Estep and Mr. Grasso confirms that the purported owner of the disputed domain name did in fact receive the Complaint.
B. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The similarity between Complainant’s mark and the disputed domain name is obvious. This fact, and Complainant’s proof of United States federally registered marks incorporating the phrase “the knot”, satisfy the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
C. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Complainant has made out a prima facie case that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to link visitors to his site to Complainant’s competitors is not bona fide or a legitimate use under the Policy, nor does any factual element brought to the attention of the Panel suggest that the Respondent may in any way have rights or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. Respondent has presented no evidence that it has been commonly known by the disputed domain name, or that it has any other legitimate right to use this phrase in its domain name. Paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy is therefore satisfied.
D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Complainant correctly points out that typosquatting is presumptive evidence of bad faith in registration and use. When the typosquatting is done by a competitor or for competitive services, the evidence is conclusive. A close misspelling of a competitor’s mark that results in a nonsensical phrase betrays both knowledge of the mark and an intentional attempt to use that mark to divert Internet users to competitors for profit, taking advantage of whatever goodwill attaches to the mark and bringing the circumstances within paragraph 4(b)(iii) and 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. Respondent’s denial is nothing more than a statement of a desired legal conclusion, unsworn and unsupported by any factual evidence or assertion from which that conclusion could be based. It is thus afforded little or no weight. Complainant has therefore established the requisite 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, <tehknot.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Richard G. Lyon
Dated: April 15, 2006