The Complainant is Harrods Limited, of London, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“United Kingdom” or “UK”) represented by Burges Salmon LLP, United Kingdom.
The Respondent is Harrods, of London, United Kingdom; Transure Enterprise Ltd. of Tortola, Virgin Islands, Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, United Kingdom.
The disputed domain name <harodds.com> is registered with Above.com, Inc.
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 4, 2008. On November 5, 2008, the Center transmitted by email to Above.com, Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 6, 2008, Above.com, Inc. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that Harrods 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 17, 2008. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was December 7, 2008. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on December 9, 2008.
The Center appointed Adam Samuel as the sole panelist in this matter on December 29, 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 owns Community trade marks numbers 62414 registered on October 23, 1998 and 61697, registered 3 August 2001, and US trade marks numbers 2966488 registered July 12, 2005 and 3250706 registered June 12, 2007 all for the name HARRODS.
The disputed domain name was created on February 24, 2008.
These are the Complainant's contentions. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the Panel.
The Complainant owns the world-famous Harrods Department Store. The Complainant promotes this through its Internet site, “www.harrods.com”. The Complainant owns trade marks in the name HARRODS.
The only difference between the disputed domain name and the Complainant's HARRODS trade marks is the omission of an “r” and the addition of a “d”. The domain name is a clear attempt to attract Internet traffic to the domain name through “typosquatting”. The addition of the generic top-level domain name (“gTLD”) <.com>. is without legal significance. Pronunciation of the trade mark and the domain name without the gTLD is very similar. This is an example of confusing similarity brought about through easily made typing errors made by an Internet user.
The disputed domain name currently resolves to a website offering links for various goods and services. The Respondent has not been commonly known by the name “Harrods”. Although the details of the Registrant of the domain name have been altered to read “Harrods”, including the Complainant's address, this reference does not relate to the Complainant's authentic details. Nor could it be intended to refer to any other “Harrod” or “Harodd”. The Complainant believes the Respondent to be Transure Enterprise Ltd and is unaware of any directors or employees of that entity who may be named “Harrod” or “Harodd”. There is no information to suggest a legitimate right to use the name “Harrods” by the Respondent. The Complainant wrote on two occasions to the Respondent in ways which would have enabled the Respondent to reveal any legitimate interest it might have in the domain name.
The commercial impression conveyed to Internet users by the disputed domain name is that any goods or services offered by the Respondent from this disputed domain name would be endorsed or affiliated with the Complainant. The Respondent's disputed domain name suggests a false sense of origin or sponsorship for any associated products, goods or services and was undoubtedly chosen by the Respondent in an attempt to free-ride off the goodwill associated with the HARRODS mark, in which the Complainant enjoys exclusive rights. Where a respondent cannot use a domain name without violating the complainant's rights under the applicable law, it is accepted that bad faith exists even if the respondent has done nothing but register the domain name. The Respondent has acquired the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting or otherwise transferring the disputed domain name registration to the Complainant who is the owner of the HARRODS trade mark or to a competitor of the Complainant for valuable consideration in excess of the Respondent's documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the disputed domain name. Alternatively, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its web site 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 the web site or location or of a product or service on the website or location. With a mark as distinctive as the Complainant's, bad faith is found if it is unlikely that the respondent would have selected the domain name without knowing of its reputation.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove 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.
The disputed domain name is almost identical to the Complainant's famous trademark except for the omission of the second “r” and the addition of a “d” and the generic top-level domain (“gTLD”) < .com>. The resulting name “harodds” has no ordinary meaning. Without the gTLD, the two names are pronounced almost identically. The names sound and look similar to each other. This appears to be a classic example of “typosquatting”, 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 these reasons, the Panel concludes here that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's registered trademark.
The original registrant was Transure Enterprise Ltd of Tortola in the Virgin Islands. A more recent WHOIS search reveals that the registrant is now called “Harrods” and has the same address as the Complainant although not technically the same name. The Panel accepts the Complainant's submission that this evidence suggests that the use of the Harrods name as the registrant on the WHOIS search is essentially fictitious.
The Complainant's solicitors wrote to the Respondent on the subject of this dispute on April 1, 2008 and the Complaint has been served on the Respondent. Each document has given the Respondent the opportunity to indicate any rights or legitimate interests that the Respondent may have in respect of the disputed domain name. No answer has been forthcoming.
There is no evidence that the owner of the trademark in question, the Complainant, has authorized the Respondent to use its trademark HARRODS. The Respondent has never asserted any rights or legitimate interests in the name. For these reasons, on the basis of the evidence in the case file, and in view of the absence of a Response, the Panel concludes that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
Currently, the disputed domain name resolves to a website that offers links to a number of further websites through which users can purchase a wide variety of products and services.
The name, “harodds” has no independent existence or meaning except as a misspelling of the Complainant's trademark. This was registered well before the domain name in issue was registered. The Complainant's trademark is distinctive, well-known and has no ordinary meaning. The Complainant has asserted that the Respondent registered and is using it in bad faith. The Respondent has not replied. All this suggests that the Respondent registered the domain name knowing of the Complainant's rights in connection with its trademark. Registering and keeping a domain name knowing that it infringes the Complainant's trademark without having a reason for doing so is itself registration and use in bad faith.
It is impossible to know the motives of the Respondent in all this in view of its lack of response to this Complaint. It would appear that it has registered the disputed domain name for one or more of the following reasons: to disrupt the Complainant's business by diverting customers seeking details of the Complainant's products or stores to the disputed domain name, to earn revenue through the website to which the domain name would be diverting users looking for the Complainant's website or to persuade the Complainant to buy the disputed domain name for more than his out-of-pocket expenses.
This conclusion 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.”
For all these reasons, the Panel concludes that the disputed 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 disputed domain name, <harodds.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: January 6, 2009