WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
State of Florida, Department of Management Services v. Digi Real Estate Foundation
Case No. D2007-0907
1. The Parties
The Complainant is State of Florida, Department of Management Services, of Tallahassee, Florida, United States of America (the “Complainant”), represented by Gerard T. York, Esq., United States of America.
The Respondent is Digi Real Estate Foundation of Panama City, Panama (the “Respondent”).
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name, <myfloridaa.com> (the “Domain Name”), is registered with Netracorp, LLC dba Global Internet (“the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 20, 2007. On June 21, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On the same day, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response 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 June 27, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 17, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on July 20, 2007.
The Center appointed Tony Willoughby as the sole panelist in this matter on August 2, 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.
The Complainant is, in essence, the State of Florida, which operates under a variety of names and through a number of different agencies (e.g. ‘The Department of Management Services’, ‘The State Technology Office’, ‘The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’). For the purposes of this administrative proceeding the Panel does not distinguish between these various names and/or agencies and refers to them simply as “the Complainant”.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is the registered proprietor of three United States trademark registrations of or including the name MYFLORIDA. They are numbers 2720387, 2723081 and 2723083 in classes 35 and 42 for a wide range of governmental and governmental information services consistent with the Complainant’s functions.
The trademark registrations all date back to September 2000. Registration number 2723083 also features the Complainant’s domain name, <myflorida.com>, a domain name which since the year 2000 has been connected to the Complainant’s operating portal website at “www.myflorida.com”, being the gateway to the Complainant’s electronic resources.
The Complainant has made very extensive use of its <myflorida.com> domain name not only to connect to its portal website, but also in graphic form on many millions of Florida vehicle registration plates.
The Respondent registered the Domain Name on April 20, 2007, and connected it to a Siteboxparking directory site.
On May 7, 2007, the Complainant sent a cease and desist letter to the Respondent drawing the latter’s attention to its rights in the trademark, MYFLORIDA, and demanding transfer of the Domain Name.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark and to its domain name, <myflorida.com>.
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name, observing that the Respondent is not known by the Domain Name and has a track record as a cybersquatter. The Complainant cites more than 20 domain name disputes in which the Respondent has featured as a respondent. In all of those cases the Respondent’s registrations were held to have been made and used in bad faith.
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant contends that the Respondent deliberately registered a mis-spelling of the Complainant’s portal domain name, <myflorida.com>, with a view to diverting Internet traffic from the Complainant’s site to the Respondent’s directory site.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, for this Complaint to succeed in relation to the Domain Name, 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) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and
(iii) The Domain Name has been registered in bad faith and is being used in bad faith.
B. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has trademark registrations in the United States covering representations of the mark MYFLORIDA. The Complainant has produced substantial evidence of its extensive use of the mark, primarily as part of the domain name, <myflorida.com>, a domain name, which is featured widely on car registration plates in Florida and which is the domain name used for the Complainant’s portal site for its electronic resources.
The Domain Name differs from both the Complainant’s registered mark and its portal domain name only in that the Domain Name features an additional ‘a’ prior to the generic domain suffix.
The Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights.
C. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant asserts that the Respondent registered the Domain Name, knowing of the Complainant’s portal website at ‘www.myflorida.com’ and intending that Internet users trying to reach the Complainant’s website, but mistyping the Complainant’s domain name, should instead reach the Respondent’s directory website. It is noteworthy that among the many links featured on the Respondent’s directory site there is a link to the Complainant’s portal website.
From the plethora of other domain name disputes involving the Respondent where the domain names in question have been mis-spellings of well-known trademarks and service marks of other parties and connected to directory sites, it is reasonable to infer that the Respondent is in business to divert Internet traffic to its sites, presumably for a commercial purpose (e.g. click-per-view revenue).
The Complainant has made out a prima facie case to that effect and it is for the Respondent to answer that case.
However, the Respondent has not responded. Moreover, none of the instances of ‘rights and legitimate interests’ set out in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy seem to the Panel to be applicable here. Nor can the Panel conceive of any other reason why the Respondent could reasonably be said to have rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
As indicated, the Complainant has made out a good case to the effect that the Respondent registered the Domain Name, knowing it to be a confusingly similar mis-spelling of the Complainant’s portal site domain name and with the intention of diverting Internet traffic to the Respondent’s directory site for commercial gain.
Accordingly, and in the absence of any counter explanation from the Respondent, the Panel finds that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
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, <myfloridaa.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: August 16, 2007