WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund v. Marcello Bologna, Interhome AG
Case No. D2010-1489
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund of Zurich, Switzerland, represented by Baker & McKenzie, Switzerland.
The Respondent is Marcello Bologna, Interhome AG of Glattbrugg, Switzerland.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <lnterhome.net> is registered with Todaynic.com, Inc.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 6, 2010. On September 7, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to Todaynic.com, Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 16, 2010, Todaynic.com, 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 September 23, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 13, 2010. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 14, 2010.
The Center appointed Tobias Zuberbühler as the sole panelist in this matter on October 20, 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 holding 100% of the Swiss company Interhome AG through its subsidiary Hotelplan Holding AG. According to information provided by the Complainant, Interhome AG is currently the largest provider of quality holiday apartments and villas in Europe. Every year, more than 500000 clients contact Interhome AG to book their holidays. Interhome AG has around 300 employees and generated a consolidated turnover of CHF 212 million in 2009. The Complainant promotes its services via the website “www.interhome.com”.
The Complainant is the owner of the Swiss trademark No. P-470968 (INTERHOME) and the international registration No. 740 788 (INTERHOME), both registered on March 29, 2000.
The disputed domain name was registered on August 17, 2010 and currently leads to an inactive webpage.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The disputed domain name was used in the context of an Internet scam. Due to the similarity of the miniscule “L” used in the disputed domain name <lnterhome.net> to the capital “I” in the term “Interhome”, the disputed domain name looks nearly identical to the Complainant's second level domain “interhome”. In order to scam third parties into believing that Interhome AG will employ them, the Respondent used different alias names in falsified documents to create the impression that he is employed by Interhome AG, the subsidiary of the Complainant. The purpose of these actions was to have these third parties create bank accounts in good faith from which money would be transferred to other third party accounts. It seems that this scam was used for money laundering and fraud.
The element “Lnterhome” of the disputed domain name is almost identical and obviously similar to the Complainant’s trademark INTERHOME. This is a typical case of typosquatting.
Furthermore, there is no evidence of the Respondent's use of the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. The Respondent is not authorized by and has no other links to the Complainant or the Complainant’s business and is not commonly known as an individual, business or organization by the disputed domain name. The Respondent is also not making any legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
Finally, it is clear that the trademark INTERHOME is well-known in Switzerland and Europe and therefore must have been known to the Respondent at the time of registration. As WIPO UDRP Panels have found in similar situations, (i) a confusingly similar domain name being used to give the impression that a site is connected with a trademark and (ii) providing false contact details to the Registrar (as was the case here) is both evidence of bad faith.
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 INTERHOME, except for the use of the letter “L” instead of “I”. It is very hard to distinguish a miniscule “L” from a capital “I”, so the graphical appearance of “lnterhome” (with a miniscule “L”) and “Interhome” (with a capital “I”) is virtually identical.
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 an intentional misspelling of the trademark of the Complainant (i.e. a case of so-called typo-squatting), cannot be considered as 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 appeared to be used for an Internet scam (as described in the Complainant's contentions above and further discussed below). For obvious reasons, the fraudulent use of a domain name can never be qualified as a legitimate interest. 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 disputed 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 for its fraudulent activities, 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.
Finally, the Respondent seems to have appropriated the name of the CFO of Interhome AG for the contact details of the disputed domain name. Such indication of false contact details to the Registrar is further evidence of bad faith (Wachovia Corporation v. Peter Carrington, WIPO Case No. D2002-0775).
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.
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 <lnterhome.net> (with a miniscule "L") be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: October 26, 2010