WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Comerica Incorporated v. Wan-Fu China, Ltd.
Case No. D2007-0590
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Comerica Incorporated, a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Detroit, Michigan, United States of America, represented by Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone, PLC, United States of America.
The Respondent is Wan-Fu China Ltd., Nassau, Bahamas.
2. The Domain Names and Registrars
The disputed domain names <comericawbbanking.com>, <comericawebbankin.com>, <comericaa.com>, <comericanwebbanking.com>, <webankingcomerica.com> and <comericanwebbankiing.com> are registered variously with DomainDoorman, LLC/CapitolDomains, and LLC/BelgiumDomains, LLC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 18, 2007. On April 19, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to DomainDoorman, LLC/CapitolDomains, LLC and BelgiumDomains, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On April 19, 2007, DomainDoorman, LLC/CapitolDomains and BelgiumDomains, LLC transmitted by email to the Center their respective verification responses confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. 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 April 25, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was May 16, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 11, 2007.
The Center appointed J. Christopher Thomas, Q.C. as the sole panelist in this matter on June 11, 2007. 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. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is one of the United States’ oldest and largest holding companies engaged in banking and investment services. It owns the United States trademark registrations for the mark and logo COMERICA. It also owns Canadian and Mexican trademarks for the mark and logo. Copies of the respective registrations were annexed to the Complaint.
The Complainant also owns other trademarks and service marks in the United States which incorporate “Comerica”, including COMERICA WEBBANKING, COMERICA WEB BANKING FOR BUSINESS, COMERICA WEB BANKING FOR SMALL BUSINESS and COMERICA WEB BILL PAY. Comerica also uses the COMERICA and COMERICA WEBBANKING trademarks for services relating to financial services, banking and investments. The Complainant used the first of these marks as early as February 26, 1982 and it registered the mark on September 20, 1983. It used the latter trademark as early as April 1, 2000 and registered the mark on July 10, 2001.
The Respondent registered the contested domain names since December 24, 2006.
The Complainant became aware of these registrations and sent a cease and desist letter on March 30, 2007. It received no reply to its letter.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant asserts that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to its COMERICA and COMERICA WEBBANKING trademarks because the disputed names employ the COMERICA name and marks. The Complainant contends that the Respondent has engaged in typosquatting, a practice by which a registrant deliberately introduces slight deviations from famous marks. It employs common misspellings of “web banking”, for example, which are then conjoined to the Complainant’s marks. The confusion is compounded by the phonetically similar disputed domain names. In short, the domain names will cause consumers to believe that they are affiliated with or owned by the Complainant.
The Complainant contends further that the Respondent has no legitimate rights to the COMERICA and COMERICA WEBBANKING trademarks or any other trademark that incorporates the foregoing marks. Nor is it commonly known nor has held itself out as any of the disputed domain names. Moreover, the disputed domain names resolve to sites which list financial services providers that compete with the Complainant in the United States of America. This, which the Complainant contends is done with intent for commercial gain, is not a legitimate, bona fide use and does not confer legitimate interests in the domain names.
The Complainant contends further that the domain names were registered and are being used in bad faith. The principal allegations are as follows: First, the disputed domain names contain only misspellings or slight deviations from the Complainant’s trademarks. The practice of typosquatting, in and of itself, has been held to be evidence of the bad faith registration of a domain name. Second, the Respondent’s use of the domain names to resolve to websites of competing financial services providers leads the Complainant to assert that, on information and belief, the Respondent is receiving click through fees for featuring such links on the sites connected to the dispute domain names. Third, the Respondent has already been found to have registered a domain name in bad faith in similar circumstances.
In sum, the Complainant contends that the Respondent is seeking to profit from the Complainant’s trademark rights and is using the domain names for commercial gain by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s marks as to source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the various websites.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
In order for the Panel to decide to grant the remedy requested by the Complainant under the Policy, it is necessary that the Complainant prove, as required by paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, in respect of the contested domain name, that:
(i) the contested domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) the 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.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel has concluded that the Respondent has engaged in typosquatting. It has taken the COMERICA marks and simply conjoined them with variations on either the mark itself or misspelling of the modifying phrase “web banking”. This in itself would be sufficient to satisfy the “confusingly similar” requirement. In addition, however, the fact that the Respondent has employed the contested domain names to direct users to United States financial services providers which compete with the Complainant adds a further element of confusion to the contested domain name. It is hardly a matter of coincidence, in the Panel’s view, that the site resolves to the Complainant’s competitors. The inference to be drawn from this is that the Respondent apparently chose domain names that were similar to the Complainant’s marks in an attempt to confuse would-be users of the Complainant’s services and to divert them away to other would-be suppliers.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has fulfilled the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has made a prima facie showing of the Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. There is no evidence of the Respondent’s use of, or demonstrable 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.
Based on the evidence before the Panel, the Respondent has no apparent connection to the Complainant, nor has it been licensed or authorized by it to use the disputed domain name. To the contrary, the Complainant has instructed it to cease and desist using the COMERICA marks. The disputed domain names are evidently not the Respondent’s name, and there is no evidence that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain names. Nor is the Respondent making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
Given the use of the disputed domain names described above and in the absence of any evidence in the Respondent’s favor, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names within the meaning of paragraph 4(a) (ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Respondent’s domain names serve to divert users to the Complainant’s competitors. The Respondent is plainly attempting to mislead consumers by diverting Internet traffic away from the Complainant’s websites for its own commercial gain. In the circumstances, the Panel concludes that the domain names were registered and used 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 disputed domain names <comericawbbanking.com>, <comericawebbankin.com>, <comericaa.com>, <comericanwebbanking.com>, <webankingcomerica.com> and <comericanwebbankiing.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
J. Christopher Thomas, Q.C.
Dated: June 25, 2007