Complainant is Verizon Trademark Services LLC of Arlington, Virginia, United States of America, represented internally.
Respondent is Ali Aziz of Karachi, Pakistan.
The disputed domain names <veizonwireless.com>, <verionwireless.com>, <verizoin.com>, <verizonswireless.com>, <verizonwieless.com>, <verizoon.com>, <veroizon.com>, <werizonwireless.com>, and <wwwverisonwireless.com> (“Domain Names”) are registered with DSTR Acquisition VII, LLC d/b/a Dotregistrar.com.
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 24, 2010. On May 25, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to DSTR Acquisition VII, LLC d/b/a Dotregistrar.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Names. On May 25, 2010, DSTR Acquisition VII, LLC d/b/a Dotregistrar.com transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on May 27, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was June 16, 2010. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent's default on June 17, 2010.
The Center appointed Clive L. Elliott as the sole panelist in this matter on June 23, 2010. 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.
Complainant is an intellectual property holding company with its principal place of business in Arlington, Virginia, United States of America. It is the owner of a number of trademark and service mark registrations for the VERIZON mark.
According to the publically available WhoIs, the various Domain Names were registered between March 1, 2002 and April 3, 2002.
Complainant asserts that its group of companies (the “Verizon Companies”) are among the world's leading providers of communications and entertainment products and services. Complainant states that Verizon Communications is a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange and that in 2009 it generated annual consolidated operating revenues of more than USD 107 billion. Complainant states that the Verizon Companies employ a diverse workforce of more than 222,900 employees and that one of its subsidiaries, Verizon Wireless, owns and operates the United States' largest wireless carrier, serving 92.8 million voice and data customers.
Complainant asserts that it has granted its affiliate Verizon Licensing Company an exclusive license to sublicense the use of the Verizon marks in connection with various products and services, including communications and entertainment products and services to Verizon's affiliates and to third parties. In turn Verizon Licensing Company has granted such licenses to various Verizon companies, including Verizon Communications Inc. and Verizon Wireless.
Complainant asserts that the Verizon Companies have offered and provided a full array of communications and entertainment products and services under the trademark and trade name VERIZON since 2000 in the United States and throughout the world. It also asserts that the Verizon Companies own and operate one of the most expansive end-to-end global IP networks in the world and provide a full range of communications and entertainment products and services, which were identified in the Complaint.
Complainant states that the Verizon Companies' main websites, featuring information on many of the products and services of the Verizon Companies can be accessed via the domain names:
- <verizon.com>, which has been used since at least as early as June 2000,
- <verizonwireless.com>, which has been used since at least as early as April 2000, and
- <verizonbusiness.com>, which has been used since at least as early as January 2006.
Complainant contends that Verizon's affiliates have spent many billions of dollars since 2000 to advertise and promote VERIZON and VERIZON WIRELESS branded products and services in the United States and throughout the world.
Complainant asserts that its rights in the VERIZON mark have been recognised throughout Europe and the United States as evidenced by various UDRP panel decisions whereby other domain names incorporating the word Verizon in its name have been transferred to Complainant.
Complainant submits that its VERIZON trademark is an inherently distinctive and commercially strong mark entitled to broad protection and that the VERIZON trademark has acquired clear fame.
Complainant submits that the Domain Names are confusingly similar to the VERIZON Marks and that Respondent has deliberately misspelt words to cause confusion, as shown in the domain names:
(a) <verizonwieless.com>, where Respondent has misspelled the word “wireless”;
(b) <verizonswireless.com>, where Respondent has inserted the letter “s” between “Verizon” and “wireless”;
(c) <wwwverisonwireless.com>, where Respondent has replaced the letter “z” with the letter “s” in “Verizon” and added the letters “www”;
(d) <verionwireless.com>, where Respondent has omitted the letter “z” in “Verizon”;
(e) <veizonwireless.com>, where Respondent has omitted the letter “r” in “Verizon”;
(f) <werizonwireless.com>, where Respondent has replaced the “v” with a “w” in “Verizon”;
(g) <veroizon.com>, where Respondent has inserted the letter “o” between the letters “r” and “i” in “Verizon”;
(h) <verizoon.com>, where Respondent has inserted the letter “o” between the letters “z” and “o” in “Verizon”; and
(i) <verizoin.com>, where Respondent has inserted the letter “i” between the letters “o” and “n” in “Verizon.”
Complainant asserts that Respondent has intentionally attempted to divert, for commercial gain, Internet users to its websites, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the VERIZON Marks as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation and endorsement of its websites located at the Domain Names. Complainant submits that the Domain Names are active and when each domain name is typed into a URL browser the user is redirected to the website located at <usseek.com> which displays a landing page designed to intentionally monetize the VERIZON marks by offering sponsored links both to goods and services offered for sale by Verizon and to divert customers to websites of Verizon's competitors.
Complainant submits that Respondent is a known cybersquatter with numerous adverse UDRP decisions, including but not limited to the following:
(a) La Quinta Worldwide, LLC v. Ali Aziz, WIPO Case No. D2008-1389; and
(b) Cingular Wireless II, LLC v. Ali Aziz, NAF Claim No. 892865.
Complainant argues that Respondent's registration of multiple domain names consisting of misspellings of the VERIZON Marks further demonstrates Respondent's bad faith registration and use of the Domain Names.
Respondent has failed to reply to Complainant's contentions.
Complainant is the owner of the trademark and trade name VERIZON (hereinafter “the Trademark”). Complainant has provided a range of communications and entertainment products and services under the Trademark.
There is merit in Complainant's submission that Respondent has deliberately misspelt words to cause confusion. The fact that the misspellings are similar and consistent and that all of the Domain Names were registered within the space of a few days lends weight to this argument. Equally, there is no basis for suggesting that because the Domain Names contain misspellings of the VERIZON Trademark or descriptive terminology associated or likely to be associated with the Trademark, that they are thereby rendered sufficiently different or distinguishable from the Trademark.
It is amply clear that the Domain Names include the Trademark VERIZON and that the Trademark is clearly identifiable within the Domain Names. Respondent has had the opportunity to do so but has declined to explain why it registered such a large number of domain names comprising or containing the word VERIZON. As a result, the Panel has no difficulty in finding that the Domain Names are confusingly similar to the Trademark.
It is therefore found that Complainant has rights in the Trademark, that the Trademark comprises a dominant and confusing part of the Domain Names, and that the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy are met.
Respondent is not apparently affiliated with Complainant in any way and has not been authorized by Complainant to use and register its trademarks or to seek the registration of any domain name incorporating the Trademark.
The registration and use of the Trademark preceded the registration of the Domain Names. The Domain Names make an obvious and direct reference to the Trademark and communications and entertainment products and services provided by Complainant or otherwise associated with Complainant or other Verizon Companies.
Complainant asserts that the Domain Names are active and that users are redirected to the website located at <usseek.com> which displays a landing page offering sponsored links to goods and services offered for sale by Verizon and also to divert customers to websites of certain of Verizon's competitors. This assertion is not disputed. The Panel finds that it constitutes an improper commercial use of the Domain Names for the purpose of diverting customers to the offerings of third parties' businesses. The Panel concludes that such activity is not consistent with any rights or legitimate interests on Respondent's part.
It is therefore established that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy requires that Respondent has registered and uses the Domain Names in bad faith.
It is not difficult, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, to infer that Respondent knew or must have known of Complainant's Trademark at the time it registered the Domain Names. VERIZON is a well-known trademark with a well-established and widespread international reputation.
Complainant asserts that Respondent has a pattern of cybersquatting and evidence is provided to support this assertion. Evidence of a pattern of questionable domain name registrations may be taken into account in drawing certain inferences. This coupled with the allegation that Respondent is involved in typo-squatting and improper diversion of business is plausible and further supports a finding of bad faith. It also stands uncontradicted.
This enables the Panel to conclude, without difficulty, that the Domain Names were both registered and used in bad faith in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(iii) 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 Names: <veizonwireless.com>, <verionwireless.com>, <verizoin.com>, <verizonswireless.com>, <verizonwieless.com>, <verizoon.com>, <veroizon.com>, <werizonwireless.com>, and <wwwverisonwireless.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Clive L. Elliott
Dated: July 14, 2010