WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Alfa Laval AB, Laval Corporate AB v. Caribbean Online International Ltd. (ALFALAVALL-COM-DOM)
Case No. D2007-1893
1. The Parties
The Complainants are Alfa Laval AB and Laval Corporate AB, of Lund, Sweden, represented by Advokatbyrån Gulliksson AB, Sweden.
The Respondent is Caribbean Online International Ltd. (ALFALAVALL-COM-DOM), of Nassau, Bahamas.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <alfalavall.com> is registered with Capitoldomains, LLC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 19, 2007. On December 21, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to Capitoldomains, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On December 26, 2007, Capitoldomains, LLC 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 January 10, 2008. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was January 30, 2008. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 1, 2008.
The Center appointed Flip Jan Claude Petillion as the sole panelist in this matter on February 13, 2008. 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 Complainants are the owners of several registrations for the trademark ALFA LAVAL all over the world. Alfa Laval AB is one of the oldest, and largest companies of Sweden, with its oldest trademark registration in Sweden dating back to the filing date of December 13, 1897.
The Complainants produced a list of trademark registrations for the trademark ALFA LAVAL owned by the Complainants. The Complainants also produced copies of the registrations for the relevant marks.
The trademark ALFA LAVAL has been used by the Complainants all over the world since the year 1883 when the first company was founded by Gustaf de Laval, based on an invention of a separator. The Complainants’ company group has since grown to become one of the market leaders in the field, with heat transfer and fluid handling added to its expertise. The company group is situated in most countries around the world.
The domain name was registered on November 20, 2005.
It differs from the trademark in the way that it has an extra letter “l” at the end.
It is unknown whether or not the domain name is used in an email address.
A visit of the website via an URL including the domain name, results into a landing page with plenty of links to websites of competitors of the Complainants.
5. Parties’ Contentions
1. The domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark in which the Complainants have rights.
The domain name is virtually identical and confusingly similar to the trademark ALFA LAVAL in which the Complainants have rights, as the domain name is merely a misspelling of the trademark. The only difference is an extra letter “l” at the end of the domain name. <alfalaval.com> can easily be misspelled <alfalavall.com> and users looking for the website of the Complainant might through a typing error be directed to the website of the Respondent instead.
The practice that the Respondent engages in by registering the domain name is a typical example of typosquatting. See e.g. Microsoft Corporation v. Microsof.com aka Tarek Ahmed, WIPO Case No. D2000-0548, the domain name <microsof.com> being very similar to the trademark MICROSOFT and Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft v. New York TV Tickets Inc., WIPO Case No. D2001-1314), in which the panel held that the domain name <duetschebank.com> was a case of ‘typosquatting’ where the domain name is a slight alphabetical variation of a famous mark and thus confusingly similar.
2. The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name.
The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name that is the subject of the Complaint.
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.
The Respondent has to the knowledge of the Complainants not been commonly known by the domain name.
The Complainants have found nothing to indicate that the Respondent is making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the domain name. On the contrary, by directing traffic to the domain name to sponsored links, the Respondent’s intent is seemingly to, with intent for commercial gain, misleadingly divert consumers and to tarnish the trademark.
3. The domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
The domain name has been both registered and used in bad faith by the Respondent.
The domain name leads Internet users to an site with links to other sites, among them competitors’ sites, namely a so-called link farm.
This conduct is a common practice of taking advantage of a well-known trademark for commercial gain. The practice has been determined to constitute bad faith use, see e.g. Network Solutions, LLC v. Philippine, Inc./ KerryWeb Enterprises, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2007-0109, and (Deutsche Telekom AG v. WWW Enterprise, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2005-1136, the panel in this case stating that “it is now a well known practice to display on a web page or search engine various links to other commercial websites, every link activated by an Internet user enables the host of the search engine to collect financial remuneration proportional to the number of connections. Previous panels have established that this practice constitutes bad faith use”.
The Complainants’ trademark is a famous trademark, which makes it quite probable that the Respondent had knowledge of it prior to registering a misspelling of the trademark as a domain name. That this is considered a circumstance sufficient to constitute bad faith at the time of registration is established in Red Bull GmbH v. Harold Gutch, WIPO Case No. D2000-0766, in which the panel establishes bad faith by determining that “it is highly unlikely that the Respondent has selected the domain name without having knowledge of the Complaint’s use of his marks. He must not only have had the Complaint’s marks in mind when he registered the domain names but he must also have been aware of the deception and confusion that would inevitably follow if he uses the domain”.
The Respondent has repeatedly engaged in the practice of typosquatting, which has been the subject of several previous panel decisions. Markel Corporation v. Caribbean Online International Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2007-1537, is a similar case of the respondent “using the domain name intentionally to attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the respondent’s website or other online location by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the respondent’s site or of a product or service offered on the respondent’s site”. Policy paragraph 4(b)(iv).
This, and many more of the panel decisions in which the Respondent features, are blatant examples of both registration and use in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainants’ contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel is satisfied that the Complainants have rights to the trademark ALFA LAVAL.
A comparison between the domain name and the trademark of the Complainants shows that the domain name contains a variation of the trademark ALFA LAVAL.
Only one additional letter “l” distinguishes the domain name from the Complainants’ trademark.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the domain name and the trademark are confusingly similar.
As a result, the Panel finds that the conditions of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy are met.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Under the Policy, rights or legitimate interests in the domain name may be demonstrated by showing that: (i) before any notice of this dispute, respondent used, or demonstrably prepared to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or (ii) respondent has been commonly known by the domain name, even if no trademark or service mark rights have been acquired; or (iii) respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert customers or to tarnish the trademark at issue. Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy.
Although the Complainants bear the ultimate burden of establishing all three elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, it is generally assumed that paragraph 4(c) of the Policy shifts the burden to the respondent to come forward with evidence of a right or legitimate interest in the domain name, once the complainant has made a prima facie showing.
In this case, the Complainants have argued that the Respondent had never been authorised by the Complainants to use their trademark in any way and that the Respondent has not made any use of, or demonstrable preparation to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.
The Respondent has not filed any response in the course of the proceedings so the Respondent has not brought any evidence in support of its potential rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.
Even in the absence of a Response, the Panel has reviewed the record and the website to which the domain name resolves and finds that there is no indication of any right or legitimate interest by the Respondent in the domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The trademark ALVA LAVAL undoubtedly are widelyl known trademarks.
The Respondent must have known these trademarks at the time of the registration of the domain name.
Only one letter in the domain name distinguishes the domain name from the Complainants’ trademark.
The website to which the domain name resolves shows that the Respondent has intentionally sought to attract Internet users to a website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainants’ trademarks and domain name for commercial gain.
The trademark ALFA LAVAL (spelled as the trademark is registered and not with an additional “l”, as is the case in the domain name) is mentioned on the website.
The Respondent is clearly specifically targeting the Complainants’ trademark and attempting to divert Internet users searching for the Complainants’ product to the Respondent’s website.
The Respondent is presumably profiting from this conduct in the form of click-through revenues.
These facts all support a finding of bad faith registration and use under 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 <alfalavall.com> be transferred to the Complainants.
Flip Jan Claude Petillion
Dated: February 27, 2008