WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Sprint Communications Company L.P. v. Domain Administrator
Case No. D2007-1457
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Sprint Communications Company L.P., Overland Park, Kansas, United States of America, represented internally.
The Respondent is Domain Administrator, Huntington Beach, California, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed Domain Name <spirnt.com> is registered with eNom, Inc.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 2, 2007. On October 4, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On October 5, 2007, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response indicating that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. The Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on October 8, 2007. In response to a notification by the Center that the Complaint was administratively deficient, the Complainant filed a second amendment to the Complaint on October 12, 2007, based on information provided by the Registrar concerning the name of the registrant. The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendments 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 October 19, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was November 8, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 9, 2007.
The Center appointed W. Scott Blackmer as the sole panelist in this matter on November 20, 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 is a Delaware limited partnership. Its sole general partner is United Telecom, Inc., a Kansas corporation based in Overland Park, Kansas, United States of America. The Complainant is a subsidiary of Sprint Nextel Corporation and owns the SPRINT trademarks licensed to affiliates and others in connection with telecommunications services.
The Complainant and its licensees have used SPRINT trademarks continuously since 1977. The earliest United States trademark for SPRINT as a standard character mark, Registration No. 1104943 (most recently renewed in 1998) was issued in October 1978, showing first use in commerce in February 1977.
The Panel notes that, according to public filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, Sprint Nextel Corporation provides an array of wireless and wireline telecommunications services and products to some 54 million customers. It also operates a “Tier 1” global Internet backbone network used by Internet service providers. The company’s principal website is at “www.sprint.com.”
Since telecommunications services have been advertised and provided to millions of customers under the SPRINT brand over the past thirty years, the Panel accepts the Complainant’s undisputed contention that the SPRINT brand is famous, at least in the United States where both the Complainant and the Respondent are located.
The Domain Name was registered on September 5, 2001 and updated on February 17, 2007, using the Registrar’s affiliated domain privacy service, Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc. After being contacted by the Center concerning the Complaint in this proceeding, the Registrar changed the entry in its WHOIS database to show the registrant of the Domain Name as “Domain Administrator,” with contact details in Huntington Beach, California. “Domain Administrator” does not appear to be the name of an identifiable individual or legal entity.
The Domain Name does not currently resolve to a website. The Complainant furnished a printout of the website to which the Domain Name formerly resolved, an advertising portal featuring telecommunications products including “Sprint Cell Phone Plans,” “Sprint Prepaid Wireless,” “My Sprint Pcs,” “Used Sprint Cell Phones,” “Sprint Voip,” “Cheap Cell Phone Plans,” “Cell Phone Ringtone,” “International Calling Cards,” and “Cellular Phone Batteries.” The page also included an advertising search engine function for keyword queries relating to other products and services.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant argues that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to its well established SPRINT marks, differing only by the transposition of two letters. The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name and that it registered and used the Domain Name in a bad-faith attempt to divert Internet users to an unrelated advertising portal for commercial gain.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy provides that in order to divest a respondent of a disputed domain name, a complainant must demonstrate each of the following:
(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.
Under paragraph 15(a) of the Rules,
“A Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.”
A. Identical or Confusingly Similarity
The Complainant indisputably owns the registered SPRINT trademark. The Domain Name is visually and phonetically similar to this trademark, differing only in transposing the letters “i” and “r.” The Panel concludes that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s SPRINT trademark for purposes of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent’s identity remains hidden, but the Complainant denies giving permission to any unrelated party to use a misspelling of the SPRINT mark for a domain name, or for purposes of advertising “sprint” telecommunications products and telecommunications products offered by competitors. There is no known company named “Spirnt,” and “spirnt” is not a dictionary word in English.
The Respondent has not come forward with a legitimate interest in using a Domain Name based on a misspelling of the Complainant’s trademark, and none appears from a perusal of the website with which the Domain Name was formerly associated. The Panel concludes, therefore, that this element of the Complaint has been established.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides a non-exhaustive list of circumstances that indicate bad faith, including the following:
“(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.”
The Domain Name appears to be nothing more than a deliberate misspelling of a famous mark (“typosquatting”), as an Internet user might type it by mistake into a browser or search engine. It resolved to an advertising portal featuring products of the Complainant and of its competitors, presumably in connection with a pay-per-click Internet advertising scheme. This is entirely consistent with the instance of bad faith described in paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
The registrant’s bad faith is further suggested by his or her failure to respond to the Complaint or to provide a genuine name even to the Registrar’s domain privacy service.
The Panel concludes that the Complaint establishes bad faith registration and use under 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 <spirnt.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
W. Scott Blackmer
Dated: December 6, 2007