The Complainant is Florida Department of Management Service, State of Florida, Tallahassee, Florida, United States of America, represented internally.
The Respondent is Forsyte Corporation, Nassau, Bahamas.
The disputed domain name <myfloridaa.com> is registered with Regnow.ca Inc.
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 30, 2008. On October 31, 2008, the Center transmitted by email to Regnow.ca Inc. a request for registrar, verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 3, 2008, Regnow.ca Inc. 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” or “UDRP”), 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 November 4, 2008. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was November 24, 2008. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on November 28, 2008.
The Center appointed Sir Ian Barker as the sole panelist in this matter on December 10, 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.
The Complainant is the registered proprietor of United States trademarks for the words MY FLORIDA and MY FLORIDA.COM. The trademark registrations date back to September 2000 and cover a wide range of governmental and information services. The Complainant is the State of Florida which operates under a variety of names, including “Department of Management Services”. It will be convenient to refer to the various agencies of the State of Florida as “the Complainant”.
The Complainant registered the domain name <myflorida.com> on September 2, 1999 as its portal website and the primary access for all those interested in obtaining information concerning the services and agencies of the State of Florida. The website hosts an extensive knowledge-base and provides the ability for any citizen to send in a question to be answered by the Florida Department of state. It is a very frequently visited website. In the fiscal year 2006-07, the State of Florida spent some USD 594,965 on activities relating to the domain name <myflorida.com>.
The vehicle licence plates for the State of Florida display the words “MyFlorida.com”. As of December 2006, there had been some 13.5 million vehicle tags bearing these words manufactured.
In State of Florida, Department of Management Services v. Digi Real Estate Foundation, WIPO Case No. D2007-0907 a WIPO panelist ordered the transfer of the same disputed domain name <myfloridaa.com> to be transferred to the Complainant.
The Respondent registered the disputed domain name on July 7, 2008. Through an administrative error, the Complainant's domain name registration had expired before the Respondent obtained registration of the disputed domain name on July 7, 2008.
The Respondent, in numerous reported cases before both WIPO and the National Arbitration Forum, has been found to have been engaged in typosquatting or cybersquatting.
The Complainant sent a “cease and desist” letter to the Respondent on July 28, 2008, and received in reply an offer from the Respondent to sell the disputed domain name to the Complainant for the sum of USD 2,000.
The Complainant's contentions were supported by declarations.
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's registered trademark and to its domain name <myflorida.com>.
The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect to the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name and has a track record as a cybersquatter.
The disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Respondent deliberately registered a misspelling 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.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that the Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred:
(1) the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(2) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Complainant has trademark registrations in the United States for the words MY FLORIDA. The expression “MyFlorida.com” is featured widely on Florida vehicle registration plates and is used in the Complainant's portal sites.
The difference between the registered trademark and the disputed domain name is the additional “a” prior to the generic domain suffix “.com”. The Panel concludes that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
The Complainant asserts that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name knowing of the Complainant's portal site, intending that Internet users who try to access the Complainant's website, but mistype the Complainant's domain name reach the Respondent's website instead. There have been many domain name disputes involving typo-squatting of this sort where a complainant has prevailed over this practice.
In this case the Respondent has not produced any evidence to show that it comes within paragraph 4(c) of the Policy which offers several defences to the claim of lack of rights or legitimate interests.
The Complainant has, therefore, made out a prima facie case to that effect and it is for the Respondent to disprove that case, which it has not done. The Panel can see no reason why the Respondent could reasonably be said to have any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect to the disputed domain name.
The Complainant has made out a good case for bad faith registration and use. Clearly, there is a confusingly similar misspelling of the Complainant's trademark and own domain name. The Panel thus infers an intention of diverting Internet traffic to the Respondent's site for commercial gain. Moreover, the fact that the Respondent has sought money for the disputed domain name is evidence of registration and use in bad faith under paragraph 4(b) of the Policy.
Accordingly, in the absence of any counter-explanation, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(iii) of the Policy.
The Respondent's record of recidivist typosquatting and/or cybersquatting is also relevant in this context of bad faith registration and use.
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.
Sir Ian Barker
Dated: December 22, 2008