WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Government Employees Insurance Company (“GEICO”) v. Bladimir Boyiko
Case No. D2010-1180
1. The Parties
Complainant is Government Employees Insurance Company (“GEICO”) of Chevy Chase, Maryland, United States of America, represented by Burns & Levinson LLP, United States of America.
Respondent is Bladimir Boyiko of Moscow, Russian Federation.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <wwwgeico.com> (“Domain Name”) is registered with eNom.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 16, 2010. On July 19, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to eNom a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On July 19, 2010, eNom 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 July 21, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was August 10, 2010. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on August 11, 2010.
The Center appointed Clive L. Elliott as the sole panelist in this matter on August 16, 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.
4. Factual Background
Complainant is an insurance provider incorporated under the laws of the state of Maryland, United States of America and is the owner of a number of trademark and service mark registrations for GEICO, in connection with the goods and services it provides.
According to the publicly available WhoIs data, the Domain Name was registered on July 27, 2001.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant contends that it is a well-known insurance company, employing over 24,000 employees, and has provided insurance services since 1936, offering a range of insurance services including but not limited to automobile, motorcycle, homeowners, rental, condominium, flood, mobile home, personal umbrella, and overseas insurance.
Complainant asserts that it is the registered owner of many federally registered trademarks and service marks (the “GEICO trademark”) in connection with its goods and services and that it invests large sums to promote and develop its marks through television, print media, and the Internet. Complainant contends that the GEICO trademark has become uniquely associated with Complainant and its services and further contends that it has over 9 million customers and insures more than 16 million vehicles.
Complainant states that it has established a website located at “www.geico.com”, which it uses to promote and sell its services, as well as enabling computer users to access information regarding Complainant’s insurance services, manage their policies and claims, learn more about Complainant and obtain insurance quotes.
Complainant contends that when an Internet user types the Domain Name into the Internet browser’s address bar, the user is directed to a website, “www.USSeek.com” which provides links to competing insurance companies
Complainant asserts that Respondent is a serial cybersquatter and more specifically a “typosquatter” who has registered hundreds of other domain names, many of which Complainant believes appear to infringe upon the rights of other brand holders. Complainant supports that allegation by making reference to the following domain names Respondent has registered (<diesny.com> (DISNEY), <yanaha.com> (YAMAHA), <swaroski.com> (SWAROVSKI), <wwwgoggle.com> and <googele.com> (GOOGLE)). Complainant also states that Respondent has been adjudicated before WIPO and the National Arbitration Forum no less than 16 times for its cybersquatting activities.
Complainant contends that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to its GEICO trademark and asserts that the Domain Name is an attempt to capture users who mistakenly type “www” twice when entering the address for Complainant’s website. Complainant submits that this is an example of the practice known as “typosquatting”, which has been held by numerous administrative panels to be evidence of confusing similarity.
Complainant states that Respondent has no connection or affiliation with it and has not received any license or consent, express or implied, to use the GEICO trademark in a domain name or in any other manner.
Complainant submits that Respondent has never been known by the Domain Name, is not offering bona fide goods or services and therefore has no legitimate interest in it and is using the Domain Name for commercial gain to collect revenue through pay-per-click advertising.
Complainant contends that Respondent’s choice of the Domain Name was no accident and because Respondent could have no legitimate interest in the GEICO trademark, it would not be a name it would have legitimately and randomly chose to use in connection of insurance sales/offerings and further contends that it chose this name because is was seeking to create an impression of an association with Complainant.
Complainant asserts that Respondent registered the Domain Name in bad faith by doing so with knowledge of Complainant’s rights in the GEICO trademark. Complainant further contends that Respondent had prior knowledge of its trademark by the fact that Respondent has directed Internet users of the Domain Name to websites advertising and selling auto insurance, including a link to Complainant’s own website.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Complainant is the owner of the GEICO trademark (hereinafter “the Trademark”). Complainant has provided a range of insurance products and services under the Trademark.
Complainant’s assertion that Respondent has created a domain name designed to mislead Internet users who mistakenly type “www” twice when entering the address for Complainant’s website has merit. Complainant submits that this is an example of the practice known as “typosquatting”, which has been held by numerous administrative panels to be evidence of confusing similarity. On the basis of this assertion and in the absence of a denial that is found to be the case here.
It is clear that the Domain Name includes the Trademark and that the Trademark is clearly identifiable within the Domain Name. The Panel has no difficulty in finding that the Domain Name is 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 Name, and that the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy are met.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Respondent is not 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 Name. The Domain Name makes an obvious and direct reference to the Trademark and insurance products and services provided by Complainant.
Complainant contends that Internet users who type the Domain Name into their browser are directed to a website, “www.USSeek.com”, which provides links to competing insurance companies. In the absence of any explanation or denial this seems to be a straight-forward pay-per-click operation and the reasonable inference is that Respondent has intentionally attempted to divert, for commercial gain, Internet users to websites operated or controlled by competitors of Complainant.
The Panel finds that this constitutes an improper commercial use of the Domain Name for the purpose of diverting customers to the offerings of third parties’ businesses, either now or in the future. 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 Name under Paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy requires that Respondent has registered and uses the Domain Name 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 the Trademark at the time it registered the Domain Name. The allegation that Respondent is involved in typo squatting and improper diversion of business is plausible and further supports a finding of bad faith.
This enables the Panel to conclude, without difficulty, that the Domain Name was 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 Name <wwwgeico.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Clive L. Elliott
Dated: August 30, 2010