World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Verizon Trademark Services LLC v. NA, NA NA

Case No. D2011-0295

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Verizon Trademark Services LLC of Arlington, Virginia, United States of America, represented internally, United States of America.

The Respondent is NA, NA NA of Xiamen, Fujian, China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <verzion.com> is registered with eNom.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 11, 2011. On February 14, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to eNom a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On February 14, 2011, eNom 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 February 17, 2011. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was March 9, 2011. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 10, 2011.

The Center appointed Christian Schalk as the sole panelist in this matter on March 22, 2011. 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 Panel has reviewed the record and confirms the Complaint’s compliance with the formal requirements. The Complaint was properly notified to the Respondent in accordance with paragraph 2(b) of the Rules. The language of the proceedings is English. The Panel has not received any requests from the Complainant or the Respondent regarding further submissions, waivers or extensions of deadlines, and the Panel has not found it necessary to request any further information from the parties.

4. Factual Background

The Complainant is a leading provider of communications, entertainment, IT and security solutions to residential, business, wholesale, and government wireline and wireless customers. Among others, it owns and operates an expansive end-to-end global IP network serving more than 2,700 cities in 159 countries worldwide and provides advanced IP, data, voice and security solutions to many Fortune 1,000 companies and government customers. In accordance with the information provided by the Complainant, it generated annual consolidated operating revenues of more than USD100 billion in 2010.

The Complainant’s main websites featuring information on its many products and services can be accessed via the domain name <verizon.com> since at least June 2000. Numerous UDRP decisions have already recognized the Complainant’s trademark rights in the term “Verizon”, for instance in Verizon Trademark Services LLC v. Paul Swider d/b/a OnClick, NAF Claim No.670992; Verizon Trademark Services LLC v. Pawel Panchuk, NAF Claim No.1326430; Verizon Trademark Services LLC v. Van Groenendael Adviesgroep, WIPO Case No. DNL2008-0029; Verizon Trademark Services LLC v. paulo c/o paulo kann, WIPO Case No. D2010-0989.

The Complainant owns - among others - the following trademark registrations:

European Community Trademark registration No. 1543362 VERIZON, filed March 7, 2000 with priority claim of September 10, 1999, covering goods and services in Int. Classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 37, 38, 41 and 42;

European Community Trademark registration No. 1923671 VERIZON & Design, filed October 13, 2000 with priority claim of April 26, 2000, covering goods and services in Int. Classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 37, 38, 41 and 42;

European Community Trademark registration No. 3826096 VERIZON WIRELESS, filed May 10, 2004, covering goods and services in Int. Classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 37, 38, 41 and 42;

Chinese Trademark registration No. 1772833 VERIZON, filed March 10, 2000, with priority claim of September 10, 1999, covering goods and services in Int. Classes 9;

Chinese Trademark registration No. 1592620 VERIZON, filed March 10, 2000 with priority claim of September 10, 1999, covering goods and services in Int. Classes 16;

Chinese Trademark registration No. 1715691 VERIZON, filed March 10, 2000 with priority claim of September 10, 1999, covering goods and services in Int. Classes 35;

Chinese Trademark registration No. 1687715 VERIZON, filed March 10, 2000 with priority claim of September 10, 1999, covering goods and services in Int. Classes 36;

Chinese Trademark registration No. 1667948 VERIZON, filed March 10, 2000 with priority claim of September 10, 1999, covering goods and services in Int. Classes 37;

Chinese Trademark registration No. 1723579 VERIZON, filed March 10, 2000 with priority claim of September 10, 1999, covering goods and services in Int. Classes 38;

Chinese Trademark registration No. 1735785 VERIZON, filed March 10, 2000 with priority claim of September 10, 1999, covering goods and services in Int. Classes 41;

Chinese Trademark registration No. 1759481 VERIZON, filed March 10, 2000 with priority claim of September 10, 1999, covering goods and services in Int. Classes 42;

United State Trademark registration No. 2886813 VERIZON, filed September 10, 1999, covering goods and services in Int. Classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 37, 38, 41 and 42;

United State Trademark registration No. 3826096 VERIZON WIRELESS, filed May 11, 2000, covering goods and services in Int. Classes 38.

The Respondent registered the disputed domain name on April 6, 2002. When Internet user type the disputed domain name into their browser, they get redirected to the Complainant’s “www.verizon.com” website.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar with the Complainant’s VERIZON marks. The Complainant explains that the Respondent has simply exchanged the letters “i” and “z” in the term “Verizon”.

The Complainant asserts also that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. The Complainant contends that the Respondent has neither a connection nor an affiliation with the Complainant or any of its products and services and nor does the Respondent have a license or any other permission to use the Complainant’s VERIZON - trademarks in a domain name or in any other manner. The Complainant believes further that the Respondent’s misappropriation of the Complainant’s VERIZON - trademarks was intentionally in order to capitalize on the consumer recognition of the Complainant’s famous VERIZON - trademarks which also does not constitute fair use.

The Complainant asserts further, that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant explains in this context that the Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant and its rights in the VERIZON - trademarks and that the Respondent must have been expected that any use of the disputed domain name would cause harm to the Complainant since the disputed domain name is so obviously indicative that the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name would inevitably lead to confusion of some sort. In this context, the Complainant cites AT&T v. Rice, WIPO Case No. 2000-1276 to support its arguments. The Complainant argues in addition to this also that typosquatting has been recognized as evidencing bad faith registration and use. In order to support this argument, the Complainant refers to Bank of Am. Corp.v. Tak Ume domains for sale, NAF Claim No.154528.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

The Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law it deems applicable (paragraph 15(a) of the Rules). Pursuant to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, a domain name can be transferred only where the complainant has proven that each of the following three elements is present:

(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.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel finds that the Complainant has established trademark rights in the term VERIZON. The disputed domain name is not identical but confusingly similar with the Complainant’s trademarks. The Complainant’s VERIZON trademark and the disputed domain name have the same number of letters. The only difference is that the fourth and the fifth letter have been exchanged. Phonetically and visually, the terms “verizon” and “verzion” are very close. In many languages, both terms have a nearly identical pronunciation. In the Panel’s view, this is a clear case of “typosquatting” because the Respondent takes advantage of possible misspellings by Internet users who are unaware of the fact that they have typed the Complainant’s trademark incorrectly in the Internet browser. This risk is even higher when the mark is from another language from that of the Internet user’s mother tongue (see, for instance, Edmunds.com, Inc. v. Digi Real Estate Foundation, WIPO Case No. D2006-1043; Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft v New York TV Tickets Inc., WIPO Case No. D2001-1314; Louis Vuitton v. Net-Promotion, WIPO Case No. D2000-0430; Neuberger Berman Inc. v. Alfred Jacobsen, WIPO Case No. D2000-0323).

The “.com” suffix in the disputed domain names does not affect the determination that the disputed domain name is nearly identical with the term “verizon” in which the Complainant has trademark rights (see also: Köstrizer Schwarzbierbrauerei v. Macros-Telekom Corp., WIPO Case No. D2001-0936, Laboratoire Pharmafarm (SAS) v. M. Sivaramakrishan, WIPO Case No. D2001-0615 and further references).

For all these reasons the Panel finds that the Complainant has fulfilled the first element under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

According to the material brought before the Panel, and in the absence of a Response to the Complaint, the Panel finds that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name for the following reasons:

The Respondent has not provided any evidence of circumstances of the type specified in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, or of any other circumstances giving rise to a right to or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. Especially, there is no evidence that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name. The Respondent is also neither affiliated with the Complainant nor has the Complainant granted the Respondent a license to use its trademark.

The Respondent has also not rebutted the Complainant’s allegations on the Respondent’s lack of rights and legitimate interests and has not provided the Panel with any explanations as to whether this is the case or not or whether there are indeed legitimate reasons for the choice of the domain name. Therefore, as it has been stated by panels in previous cases, the Respondent must bear the consequences of this lack of information and in the light of the other information provided by the Complainant which raises serious doubts as to the legitimacy of the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name, the Panel finds that the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(ii) is also met (see also GEA AG v. Josue da Silva, WIPO Case No. D2003-0727).

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant contends that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith in violation of the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii). The Policy, paragraph 4(b) sets forth four non-exclusive circumstances which are evidence of bad faith registration and use of domain names:

(1) circumstances indicating that the respondent has registered or has acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the respondent’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or

(2) the respondent has registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that the respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(3) the respondent has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(4) by using the domain name, the respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of its website or location of a product.

According to the material brought before the Panel and in the absence of a Response to the Complaint, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name has been registered and used by the Respondent in bad faith in accordance with paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy for the following reasons:

It is a principle considered under prior UDRP decisions (see, for instance, Carolina Herrera, Ltd. v. Alberto Rincon Garcia, WIPO Case No. D2002-0806; Six Continents Hotels, Inc. v. Seweryn Nowak, WIPO Case No. D2003-0022) and under the Policy (see paragraph 2), that a domain name registrant represents and warrants to the concerned registrar that, to its knowledge the registration of the domain name will not infringe the rights of any third party.

Given the fact that the disputed domain name is directed to the Complainant’s website the Panel finds that the Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant’s trademark when it registered the disputed domain name (see, Liseberg AB v. Administration Local Manage Technical, WIPO Case No. D2003-0864). Therefore, the Panel believes that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in bad faith.

Furthermore, the Respondent registered the disputed domain name, which differs in one letter from the Complainant’s trademark. Both words are pronounced nearly identical in many languages and there are also very minor differences in their visual impression if both terms would be compared side by side. Therefore, it is very likely that Internet users mistyping the Complainant’s trademark in the Internet browser field will not notice this error. Had the Respondent linked the disputed domain name with a website which would offer products and services nearly identical to the Complainant ones, then, Internet users would believe that this is a website either of the Complainant itself or associated with it. They would also believe that they buy products and services from the Complainant while, in reality, they are purchasing only the Respondent’s products. Therefore, the Panel is convinced that the Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name to take advantage of such typical typing errors. “Typosquatting” or registering a domain name that is a common misspelling of a mark in which a party has rights has often been recognized as evidence of bad faith registration per se. (see e.g. Edmunds.com, Inc. v. Digi Real Estate Foundation, WIPO Case No. D2006-1043; Paragon Gifts, Inc. v. Domain.Contact, WIPO Case No. D2004-0107 (citing National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, d/b/a Minor League Baseball v. Zuccarini, WIPO Case No. D2002-1011); ESPN, Inc. v. XC2, WIPO Case No. D2005-0444 (finding that the practice of “typosquatting” itself is evidence of bad faith registration of a domain name). Furthermore, several panels have decided in previous cases that typo squatting per se may be sufficient to establish registration and use in bad faith under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy (SurePayroll, Inc. v. Web Advertising, Corp., WIPO Case No. D2007-0470 and Swarowski A.G. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2006-0148).

Moreover, the Respondent has provided inaccurate contact details when he registered the domain name at issue or failed at least to correct such false contact details. The Center has used the contact details given in the WhoIs information for the disputed domain name when it tried to contact the Respondent. However, the e-mail was returned because it could not be delivered and the courier service informed the Center that the Respondent’s street address is incorrect as well. The Panel notes that the Respondent is in breach of the registration agreement (See Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003) and may have given incorrect contact details to frustrate or at least to delay these proceedings.

Given all facts and circumstances of this case, the Panel finds therefore, that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

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, <verzion.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Christian Schalk
Sole Panelist
Dated: April 5, 2011

 

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