World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Associated Banc-Corp v. Paulo

Case No. D2010-1285

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Associated Banc-Corp of Wisconsin, United States of America, represented by Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c., United States of America.

The Respondent is Paulo of Dijon, France.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <associatedbak.com> is registered with Dynadot, LLC.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 30, 2010. On August 2, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to Dynadot, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On August 2, 2010, Dynadot, LLC 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 August 5, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was August 25, 2010. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on August 28, 2010.

The Center appointed Tobias Zuberbühler as the sole panelist in this matter on September 13, 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

The Complainant is the owner of the US trademark ASSOCIATED BANK (registration date: May 2, 2006), which it claims to have been using since 1970. In addition, the Complainant asserts to have been marketing its products since 1999 under the domain name <associatedbank.com>.

The disputed domain name <associatedbak.com> was registered on April 15, 2010 and is currently connected to a website with links to various online banking businesses, including links to the Complainant's website.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

According to the Complainant (citing UDRP precedent to support its position), the disputed domain name is confusingly similar, in the sense of the Policy, to the Complainant’s trademark ASSOCIATED BANK, since the disputed domain name is nearly identical to the Complainant's trademark, and the omission of the letter "n" does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity.

Further, the Complainant contends that the Respondent does not have any license or authorization to use the Complainant’s mark.

The Complainant states that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name to point to a website containing links to online banking services, including a link to the Complainant's website ”www.associatedbank.com”. Such use is not a bona fide use under the Policy in the opinion of the Complainant. Consequently, the Respondent is using the disputed domain name to intentionally attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the website at the disputed domain name, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the website. The Complainant cites UDRP precedents to conclude that the Respondent has violated the Policy.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s registered trademark ASSOCIATED BANK except for the omission of the letter “n”.

The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is thus confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights and that the Complainant has thus fulfilled paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The use of the disputed domain name, which is a misspelling of the trademark of the Complainant (i.e. a case of so-called typo-squatting), cannot be considered use in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use. The Panel refers to National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, Inc., d/b/a Minor League Baseball v. John Zuccarini, WIPO Case No. D2002-1011.

The Panel also notes that the website under the disputed domain name is a so-called “parking page”. Because the disputed domain name reproduces the Complainant’s trademark, except for the omission of the letter “n”, this use cannot be considered as bona fide offering of goods or services, nor as a legitimate noncommercial or fair use (see mVisible Technologies, Inc. v. Navigation Catalyst Systems, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2007-1141 and the cases cited therein). Additionally, the Panel notes that from the present record, and in the absence of any Response from the Respondent, it does not appear that the Respondent is commonly known by the domain name, and does not appear to have any other basis for demonstrating any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

Since the Complainant has shown that the Respondent does not have a right or a legitimate interest in the disputed domain name, the Complainant has fulfilled the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Under the circumstances of this case, the Panel finds that it can be inferred that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s trademark when registering the disputed domain name.

The Panel finds that there is sufficient evidence that the Respondent, by registering and using the disputed domain name, attempted to attract Internet users for commercial gain to his website, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of his website or the products or services on his website, which demonstrates bad faith.

Furthermore, the Panel notes that the disputed domain name is an example of typo-squatting, which in the circumstances of this case also demonstrates bad faith. The Panel refers in this respect to National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, Inc., d/b/a Minor League Baseball v. John Zuccarini, supra.

In summary, the Panel finds that the Respondent has registered and uses the disputed domain name in bad faith, thus fulfilling paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

7. Decision

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 <associatedbak.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Tobias Zuberbühler
Sole Panelist
Dated: September 28, 2010

 

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