WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Adecco S.A. v. William Vaughan, SMTM Investments Ltd
Case No. D2008-0095
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Adecco S.A., Glattbrugg, Switzerland, represented by Wild Schnyder AG, Switzerland.
The Respondent is William Vaughan, SMTM Investments Ltd, Springfield, Australia.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <adeccco.com> is registered with InnerWise, Inc. d/b/a ItsYourDomain.com.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 23, 2008. On January 24, 2008, the Center transmitted by email to InnerWise, Inc. d/b/a ItsYourDomain.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On January 24, 2008, InnerWise, Inc. d/b/a ItsYourDomain.com 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 29, 2008. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was February 18, 2008. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 19, 2008.
The Center appointed Adam Samuel as the sole panelist in this matter on March 20, 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 Complainant is a well-known recruitment, staffing and human resources company. It has registered trademarks for ADECCO in Switzerland, P-431224 dated May 9, 1996, in Australia, 718416, dated September 26, 1996, 268255, in New Zealand dated April 8, 1998 and 75179073 in the United States of America dated December 8, 1998.
The disputed domain name was first created on January 13, 2003.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The following are the Complainant’s submissions which the Panel does not necessarily accept in their entirety. To avoid repetition, though, this section will not say repeatedly “the Complainant contends”.
The Complainant is the largest company in the field of human resources and staffing services, operating in 70 countries. It has registered trademarks for the name ADECCO in Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. It has registered domain names widely to exploit these trademark rights, including <adecco.com>. The only difference between the Complainant’s trademark and the domain name in issue is the addition of an extra letter ‘c’. The visual difference between the two is barely difference and phonetically, there is no difference at all. The domain name in issue is merely a mistyped version of the Complainant’s trademark. It is consequently confusingly similar to that mark.
The Respondent uses the disputed domain name for a website with sponsored links relating to human resources. Some of the links refer to the Complainant or its subsidiaries. However, if one clicks on the links, one only reaches active links of the Complainant’s competitors. The Respondent is neither authorized to use ADECCO as a domain name nor to use any of the Complainant’s brands or names of its subsidiaries in a commercial context.
The Respondent’s website makes it very clear that he is targeting the Complainant’s potential customers. The Respondent does not use the website to offer its own products or services, only to divert internet users who are the Complainant’s potential customers through sponsored links displayed on its website unrelated to the Complainant’s official websites and to sell them similar products and services. It is presumed that the Respondent is paid each time a user clicks on a sponsored link and is diverted to a competitor’s page. This is neither a bona fide offering of goods nor a legitimate non-commercial or fair use. It is clearly use for the Respondent’s own gain. The Respondent has never been commonly known by the domain name in issue.
The Respondent obviously knew about the Complainant when he registered the domain and subsequently established the website. On the front page of the Respondent’s website, there is a link to the Complainant. Clicking on that link refers users to other links to firms closely linked to or part of the Complainant’s corporate group. The links are not in fact linked to the real websites of these entities.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Under the Policy, the Complainant must prove that
(i) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which it 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 Complainant owns registered trademarks for the name ADECCO in a number of countries: Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United States to give some examples. The disputed domain name involves the addition of a third ‘c’ - after two previous letter ‘c’s - to the Complainant’s mark. The Complainant’s mark and the domain name in issue both consist of a made up name with no independent meaning and in the letter case the generic “.com”. The Panel accepts the Complainant’s contentions that the leaving aside the “.com”, the two words are phonetically identical and easy to mistake for each other by virtue of the addition of a letter after two previous appearance of it.
This appears to be a classic example of “typo-squatting”, where a domain name attracts Internet users who make a small typing error.
In Sierra HealthStyles LLC v. Modern Limited - Cayman Web Development, WIPO Case No. D2006-0020, the Panel said on this subject:
“Here, the domain name has two differences from Registration No. 2152729 and the key element of the other two registrations: the addition of the .com suffix and the substitution of “i” for the first “a” in the trademark.
The substitution of the “i” for the first “a” is visually apparent on close inspection. The domain name and the trademark, MIRAVAL, however, are phonetically similar. There are various ways that both versions of the word may be pronounced and some of these will or may sound the same or similar. The word element of the domain name created by the substitution of the “i” for the “a” is not a plain English word or otherwise generic. There are likely to be circumstances where a person might unintentionally type in the domain name instead of the trademark term, particularly having regard to imperfect recollection and the potential for persons using the Internet to “guess” at domain names. In these circumstances a finding of confusing similarity in line with the “typosquatting” cases is appropriate. See e.g. AltaVista Company v. Saeid Yomtobian, WIPO Case No. D2000-0937; America Online, Inc. v. Johuathan Investments, Inc. and AOLLNEWS.COM, WIPO Case No. D2001-0918; and Wachovia Corporation v. Peter Carrington, WIPO Case No. D2002-0775.
Consequently, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is at least confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark rights.”
For the same reasons, the Panel concludes here that the domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent is not called “Adeccco” and does not appear to trade under that or any similar name. There is no evidence that the Complainant has authorized the Respondent to use its trademark ADECCO. The Respondent has never asserted any rights or legitimate interests in either name. For these reasons, on the basis of the available record, notably the absence of a Response, the Panel concludes that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The name “adeccco” has no independent existence or meaning except as a misspelling of the Complainant’s trademark. This mark was registered well before the domain name in issue was acquired. The printout of the website dated January 29, 2008 refers to the Complainant as almost its first item. The Respondent clearly knew about the Complainant and its likely ownership of trademark registrations of its name. Other exhibits to the Complaint show that on January 29, 2008, the domain name was being used to promote businesses competing with the Complainant’s business.
The only explanation available, in the absence of a Response, of what has happened is that the Respondent’s motive in registering and using the sites was, as the Complainant says, simply to disrupt the Complainant’s relationship with its customers or potential customers or attempt to attract Internet users for potential gain. These both constitute evidence of registration and use in bad faith: paragraph 4(b)(iii) & (iv) of the Policy. The Respondent clearly knew of the Complainant’s existence and prominence in its field and with it the likelihood that the Complainant owned registered trademarks confusingly similar to its domain name. It then appears to have sought to divert people who mistyped the Complainant’s name to the website of other businesses to earn click-through revenue or just to disrupt for whatever reason the Complainant’s business.
This view is supported by the view expressed in Go Daddy Software, Inc. v. Daniel Hadani, WIPO Case No. D2002-0568:
“Typosquatting is virtually per se registration and use in bad faith. It is difficult to conceive of circumstances that would overcome the inference that the typosquatter “intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [Respondent’s website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source” of the website. Here such conduct was undertaken to send Complainant’s customers to a site that promoted directly competing services.”
For all these reasons, the Panel concludes that the domain name was registered and is being 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 domain name <adeccco.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: March 31, 2008