WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Sony Ericsson Mobile Communication AB, Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson , Sony Corporation v. Host Master
Case No. D2006-1569
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Sony Ericsson Mobile Communication AB, Lund, Sweden; Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, Stockholm, Sweden; and Sony Corporation, Tokyo, Japan, represented by Göhmann Wrede Haas Kappus & Hartmann, Germany.
The Respondent is Host Master, Florida, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <sontericsson.com> is registered with Domain-It!, Inc. dba Domain-It!.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 8, 2006. On December 13, 2006, the Center transmitted by email to Domain-It!, Inc. dba Domain-It! a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On December 14, 2006, Domain-It!, Inc. dba Domain-It! 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 31, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was February 20, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 22, 2007.
The Center appointed Michael J. Spence as the sole panelist in this matter on March 7, 2007. 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 first Complainant is the registered proprietor of the Swedish company name “sonyericsson” and is entitled, under license from the second and third Complainants, to use the registered Community trademarks SONY and ERICSSON in combination. The first Complainant owns and operates a website under the domain name <sonyericsson.com>.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the name “Sony Ericsson” has within a short period of time become globally recognized in the field of mobile telephones and is now well-known in the telecommunication industry amongst the respective consumers. It has to be considered as a well-known trademark in that field. It therefore contends that the Respondent’s domain name <sontericsson.com> is confusingly similar to the trademark SONYERICSSON. Moreover, it contends that the Respondent has no legitimate rights or interests in the disputed domain name, having never used, or made preparations to use it. Finally, it contends that the name is being used in bad faith on the basis that it is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trade marks and exposes the Complainant to the potential reputational damage of exposure to the Respondent’s activities (citing Geert Hofstede v. Sigma Two, WIPO Case No. D2003-0646).
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The domain name <sontericsson.com> is confusingly similar to the trademark SONYERICSSON. It is true that there is not strong aural similarity between the domain name and the mark. However, the fact that they are differentiated by only one letter, and a letter placed next to the correct letter on the ‘qwerty’ keyboard, making typographical errors highly likely, means that the two are confusingly similar. This type of ‘typosquatting’ has been frequently held to satisfy the first element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy (see, for example, Yahoo! Inc. and GeoCities v. Data Art Corp., DataArt Enterprises, Inc., Stonybrook Investments, Global Net 2000, Inc., Powerclick, Inc., and Yahoo Search, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0587).
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has established the first element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy in relation to the disputed domain name.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
It is for the Complainant to establish, at least prima facie that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed names (Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455, Belupo d.d. v. WACHEM d.o.o., WIPO Case No. D2004-0110). In this case the Complainant owns a strong and distinctive trademark. It is therefore less likely that the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the domain name than it would be if it corresponded to a less distinctive or well-known mark. Moreover, where the disputed domain name is not being used, and the Respondent makes no attempt at all to communicate with the Complainant to demonstrate preparations to use the domain name, it is open to the panel to conclude that the Respondent is highly unlikely to have rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has established the second element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy in relation to the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
It is well established under the Policy that bad faith can be found in apparent circumstances where no active use has been made of the domain name (see, for example, Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003, Jupiters Limited v. Aaron Hall, WIPO Case No. D2000-0574 and Ladbroke Group Plc v. Sonoma International LDC, WIPO Case No. D2002-0131). In this context, given the distinctiveness of the Complainant’s trade marks, and the extent to which they are well-known, and noting also that the Respondent has made no apparent attempt to contact the Complainant or answer the Complaint, it is difficult to conceive of a use of the disputed domain name by the Respondent that would not be in bad faith. The circumstances of this case make it highly likely that this is a situation of ‘typosquatting’ for commercial gain.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has, on balance, established the third element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy in relation to the disputed domain name.
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, <sontericsson.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Michael J. Spence
Dated: March 20, 2007