WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Credit Suisse Group v. VPDD UBGM ltd
Case No. D2007-0867
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Credit Suisse Group of Zurich, Switzerland, represented internally.
The Respondent is VPDD UBGM ltd of Hanoi, Viet Nam.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <credit-siusse.com> is registered with Moniker Online Services, LLC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 13, 2007. On June 15, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to Moniker Online Services, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On June 18, 2007, Moniker Online Services, LLC transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the required contact details.
In response to a notification by the Center dated July 19. 2007, that the Complaint was administratively deficient, the Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on July 23, 2007. 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 July 25, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was August 14, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on August 17, 2007.
The Center appointed David A.R. Williams QC as the sole panelist in this matter on August 24, 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 Complainant was founded in 1856 in Switzerland. It opened its first international branch, in New York, in 1940. Today it has offices in more than 50 countries worldwide, providing financial and investment services.
The Complainant owns numerous trademarks incorporating the words “Credit Suisse”, including 21 in the United States of America, 2 in Viet Nam and 54 in Switzerland. The trademarks cover goods and services in Classes 9, 14, 16, 25, 28, 35, 36, 41 and 42. Primarily the trademarks are in Class 36; insurance and financial services. Attached as Annex 3 to the Complaint are details of registration of the Complainant’s trademarks in the United States of America, Viet Nam and Switzerland. The earliest lodgment date the Panel noted in Annex 3 was for Trademark No. 385.912, being August 8, 1990. The most recent lodgment indicated in the annexes was in December 2006.
The Complainant also has registered trademarks incorporating “Credit Suisse” around the world, beyond the United States, Viet Nam and Switzerland.
The Complainant also owns the domain name <credit-suisse.com>, evidence of which was provided at Annex 4 of the Complaint. The Complainant’s primary website is located at that domain name.
The Respondent has registered the domain name <credit-siusse.com>.
The Complainant contacted the Respondent by registered letter on April 23, 2007, asking the Respondent to deactivate the website at “www.credit-siusse.com” and transfer the domain name to the Complainant. The Respondent did not reply to this letter.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant submits that each of the three elements specified in Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are applicable to the disputed domain name. First, it is submitted that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights. The Complainant submits that ‘credit-siusse.com’ is merely the full name, trademark and active website of the Complainant with the letters “u” and “i” reversed. The Complainant submits that as a result the likelihood of public confusion with the Complainant’s business is high and that such will be detrimental to the Complainant’s reputation.
Secondly, the Complainant submits that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in respect of the disputed domain name.
Thirdly, it is submitted by the Complainant that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith; that the Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant’s business and has intentionally attempted to attract internet traffic that was intended for the Complainant to its website by using a common misspelling of the Complainant’s domain name and a website which offers services and products similar to that of the Complainant. The Complainant adds that it successfully opposed the Respondent’s registration of the domain name <credisuisse.ch>. The Complainant requests cancellation of the disputed domain name.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions. The Respondent has not replied to any correspondence from the Center. The Panel notes Paragraph 5(e) of the Rules, which states, “If a Respondent does not submit a response, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, the Panel shall decide the dispute based upon the complaint.”
6. Discussion and Findings
To succeed in its request for the cancellation of the disputed domain name, the Complainant must establish that:(i) the 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.
These matters are dealt with consecutively.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has alleged that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to its CREDIT SUISSE trademarks.
The difference between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s trademarks is merely the reversal of two letters, ‘i’ and ‘u’. This is an obvious misspelling of the Complainant’s CREDIT SUISSE trademarks. The question is whether this alteration amounts to a confusing similarity between the two. It is by now well-established that in seeking the answer it is helpful to consider the aural and visual similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s trademark.
The likely pronunciation of “credit siusse” is similar, although not identical, to that of “credit suisse”. As ‘Siusse’ is not a common word its pronunciation is likely to differ among those who attempt to pronounce it.
A visual comparison of the words is determinative. The Panel considers that ‘Credit Suisse’ and ‘Credit Siusse’ are confusingly similar from a visual perspective. As noted above they are merely slight misspellings of each other. On this basis alone the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark. The interchange of two letters does not in the Panel’s view render the Respondent’s domain name distinct or different from the Complainant’s trademarks.
The Panel considers the Complainant’s trademark to be highly distinctive. A domain name which differs very slightly from a trademark has a greater tendency to be confusingly similar where that trademark is highly distinctive. See Reuters Limited v Global Net 2000, Inc, WIPO Case No. D2000-0441.
Further, the Panel does not doubt that the Respondent is engaging in “typosquatting”, an undertaking that attempts to benefit from the typographical errors of the Complainant’s consumers by registering a domain name that is extremely similar to the Complainant’s trademark. The likelihood of a consumer intending to visit the Complainant’s website but mistakenly arriving at the Respondent’s site is increased by the proximity of the letters ‘i’ and ‘u’on a standard QWERTY keyboard. Typosquatting has been considered and unequivocally condemned in a number of cases. See Playboy Enterprises International Inc v. SAND WebNames – For Sale, WIPO Case No. D2001-0094; Eddie Bauer Inc v. John Zuccarini aka Cupcake Party, WIPO Case No. D2001-0224. The failure of the Respondent to refute the allegation leads to the conclusion that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name for the very reason that it is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks.
For all the foregoing reasons the Panel finds that the domain name <credit-siusse.com> is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s CREDIT SUISSE trademarks.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has filed no response to the Complaint, and thus has made no assertion of interest in the domain name as provided in Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy. The failure to file a Response or to otherwise assert any such right or interest leads to a presumption that the Respondent is unable to establish any such right or interest. See Cornell Trading Inc v. Web-Interactive.com Inc, WIPO Case No. D2000-0887; Mary-Lynn Mondich and American Wine Biscuits, Inc. v. Shane Brown, doing business as Big Daddy’s Antiques, WIPO Case No. D2000-0004. As stated by the panel in Cornell Trading, the burden of proof shifts where the complainant presents a prima facie showing, as has occurred in the present case.
In any event, no evidence that is before the Panel suggests that the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not known by the disputed domain name. There is no reference to any goods or services offered by Respondent on the website of the disputed domain name, merely links to other companies’ websites.
The Panel finds that, in relation to the disputed domain name, the Respondent’s conduct in using a likely misspelling of the Complainant’s trademarks to redirect Internet traffic to its own website was done with the intention of misleading consumers for the purpose of commercial gain. There is no other inference that can be drawn from the use of the disputed domain name given the lack of any connection between the Respondent and the disputed domain name. This is not a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of that domain name pursuant to paragraph 4(c)(iii) of the Policy.
Thus the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Under Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy, if found by the Panel to be present, the following activities undertaken by the Respondent, in particular but without limitation, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:
“ (iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your website or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your website or location or of a product or service on your website or location.”
Given the scope of the Complainant’s international reputation the Respondent was most likely aware of the Complainant’s trademarks. In addition, the lack of any legitimate rights and interests in the domain names reinforces the Panel’s conclusion that the registration must have been made for the purpose of diverting Internet traffic from the Complainant’s website to that of the Respondent, thus disrupting the business of the Complainant and capitalizing on the goodwill of the Complainant’s trademarks. The Respondent has not asserted any good faith reason for the registration of the disputed domain name.
The use of the disputed domain name was clearly intended to create confusion with the Complainant’s mark in the mind of the consumer. Further, the home page of the Respondent’s website states among other things that “we specialize in Credit Suisse Group”, which is clearly not the case in any legitimate sense. It is clear to the Panel that the Respondent has intentionally made improper use of the Complainant’s name to attract Internet users to its website and to suggest to those Internet users that the Respondent is legitimately connected to the Complainant’s business.
The intentional redirection of Internet traffic to the Respondent’s website based on the misspelling of the Complainant’s trademark is for the Respondent’s commercial gain. The Panel finds that this is a bad faith use of the disputed domain name. The Respondent has provided no evidence to the contrary.
For all the foregoing reasons, and in accordance with Paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the domain name <credit-siusse.com> be cancelled.
David A.R. Williams QC
Dated: September 10, 2007