World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Allstate Insurance Company v. Private Registration

Case No. D2011-0971

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Allstate Insurance Company of Northbrook, Illinois, United States of America, represented by Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo, PC, United States of America.

The Respondent is Private Registration of Nanjing, China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <aqllstate.com> (the “Disputed Domain Name”) is registered with Nanjing Imperiosus Technology Co. Ltd.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 8, 2011. On June 8, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to Nanjing Imperiosus Technology Co. Ltd. a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Name. On June 9, 2011, Nanjing Imperiosus Technology Co. Ltd. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. On June 10, 2011, the Center transmitted an email communication to the parties in both Chinese and English regarding the language of the proceeding. On June 13, 2011, the Complainant submitted a request that English be the language of the proceeding. The Respondent did not comment on the language of the proceeding by the specified due date.

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 June 16, 2011. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 6, 2011. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on July 7, 2011.

The Center appointed Kar Liang Soh as the sole panelist in this matter on July 18, 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.

4. Factual Background

The Complainant was founded in 1931 and is a leading publicly held personal lines insurer in the United States. The Complainant has been using the word ALLSTATE as a trade mark since its founding. In 2009, the Complainant’s revenues were about USD 32 billion. The Complainant has devoted hundreds of millions of dollars to advertise and promote its services under the trade mark ALLSTATE. The Complainant and its services are the subject of media articles.

The Complainant has registered its trade mark ALLSTATE in the United States including the following:

Trade mark number Registration date

0717683 June 27, 1961

0761091 December 3, 1963

0840187 December 5, 1967

3164784 October 31, 2006

The Complainant has registered the trade mark ALLSTATE in other jurisdictions but the available evidence does not contain any details of these registrations.

Domain names incorporating the trade mark ALLSTATE held by the Complainant exceed 1,000, including common typographical errors of the word “allstate”. These include: <allstate.com>, <allstate.org>, <allstate.net>, <allstare.com>, <allstaye.com>, <allastate.com>, <allsatate.com>, <allsstate.com> and <asllstate.com>. The Complainant registered the domain name <allstate.com> in May 1995.

An online keyword typo generator provided by SEO Book lists “aqllstate” as a typo and common misspelling of “allstate”.

The Disputed Domain Name was registered on January 15, 2008. On or about December 31, 2010, the Disputed Domain Name was registered to R. Zhang, […]. The Complainant’s attorneys wrote to R. Zhang demanding transfer of the Disputed Domain Name on December 31, 2010 and January 12, 2011. R. Zhang did not reply to the letters.

By June 6, 2011, the Disputed Domain Name was registered to “Private Registration”. As of the same date, the Disputed Domain Name resolved to a website which features services and information relating to insurance matters and links to the Complainant and the Complainant’ s direct competitors. The content of the website was entirely in English. Thereafter, the Disputed Domain Name redirected Internet users to the Complainant’s website (although the evidence does not indicate under which of the Complainant’s domain names). The Disputed Domain Name was offered for sale at another website – “www.sedo.com” – according to a printout from that website on July 6, 2011. Not much else is known about the Respondent.

As no Response was filed, very limited information beyond the WhoIs record of the Disputed Domain Name about the Respondent is available. The WhoIs record indicates what appears to be an incomplete contact address for the Respondent in Nanjing, China and provides facsimile number which does not seem to work.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends that:

1) The Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to the trade mark ALLSTATE. The Disputed Domain Name incorporates a common and predictable misspelling of the trade mark ALLSTATE;

2) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name. The Complainant has not authorized the Respondent to use the ALLSTATE trade mark in the Disputed Domain Name. The Respondent is not commonly known by the Disputed Domain Name. The Respondent is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Disputed Domain Name; and

3) The Respondent registered and used the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith. The Respondent was aware of the trade mark ALLSTATE at the time of registering the Disputed Domain Name. Typosquatting is itself evidence of bad faith. The Respondent is operating a “pay-per-click” website for commercial gain. The hyperlinking to the website of the Complainant and websites of the Complainant’s competitor was designed to disrupt the Complainant’s business. The alteration of the website resolved from the Disputed Domain Name after receiving the Complainant’s demand letters is not consistent with the actions of a good faith registrant.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

The language of the Registration Agreement is in Chinese. Therefore, the default language of the proceeding is Chinese.

The Complaint was filed in English and the Complainant has also requested that English be the language of the proceeding. Pursuant to paragraph 11(a) of the Rules, the Panel holds that English shall be the language of the proceeding for the following reasons:

1) No Response was filed and the Respondent does not appear to be interested to participate in the proceeding;

2) All websites resolved from the Disputed Domain Name including the modifications following the Complainant’s demand letters, were entirely in English;

3) The hyperlinks from the website resolved from the Disputed Domain Name lead to English-language websites including United States-based competitors of the Complainant;

4) The Complainant is not able to communicate in Chinese. Requiring a translation of the Complaint into Chinese will lead to additional expense on the Complainant and delay to the proceeding; and

5) No discernible benefit will be achieved by insisting on the default language of the proceeding.

Having determined the language of the proceeding, the Panel turns to consider the three limbs of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy:

1) The Disputed Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark in which the Complainant has rights;

2) The Respondent has not rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name; and

3) The Disputed Domain Name was registered and used in bad faith.

To succeed in this proceeding, the Complainant must establish all three limbs.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

By virtue of trade mark registrations indicated above, the Complainant undoubtedly owns trade mark rights in the word ALLSTATE. The Complainant’s trade mark registrations pre-date the registration of the Disputed Domain Name by many decades.

The only difference between the Disputed Domain Name and the trade mark ALLSTATE is the insertion of the letter “q” after the first and second letters “a” and “l” in the word “allstate”. The Panel is of the view that the difference is minor and does not assist to visually distinguish the Disputed Domain Name from the trade mark ALLSTATE.

The Panel further accepts that in view of the proximity of the letter “q” to the letter “a” on a “qwerty” keyboard, the letter combination “aqllstate” is a reasonably likely typographical misspelling of the letter combination “allstate”. Therefore, there is also a likelihood of confusion from a typographical perspective.

The first limb of paragraph 4(a) is established on the evidence before the Panel.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Complainant has confirmed that it did not authorize the Respondent to use of the trade mark ALLSTATE. Prior to the demand letters, the Respondent was known as R. Zhang. Subsequently, the Respondent’s identity has been deliberately hidden. There is no evidence to suggest that the Respondent is commonly known by the name “allstate” or “aqllstate”.

The Complainant’s serious allegation of the Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name has been met with silence from the Respondent. In the Panel’s view, a reasonable person faced with such accusations would refute them if they were false. Since the Respondent has chosen not to refute these accusations, the Panel draws an adverse inference the Complainant’s allegation is justified.

Further, the use by the Respondent of the Disputed Domain Name to link (and subsequently to redirect) to the Complainant’s website shows that the Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant’s trade mark ALLSTATE. Using the Disputed Domain Name to hyperlink to competitors of the Complainant and/or for redirecting Internet users to the Complainant’s website does not in the view of the Panel constitute any rights or legitimate interests in the Respondent.

Based on the above, the Complainant has shown a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name which the Respondent has failed to rebut. The second limb of paragraph 4(a) is also established.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy illustrates an example of bad faith registration and use:

“by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location.”

The confusing similarity between the Disputed Domain Name and the trade mark ALLSTATE has already been established by the Complainant. By hyperlinking the website resolved from the Disputed Domain Name to the Complainant’s website and subsequently redirecting Internet users thereto, the is no doubt that the Respondent must have been aware of the trade mark ALLSTATE. In the absence of any contrary evidence, the Respondent was in all likelihood so aware at the time the Disputed Domain Name was registered.

The Complainant has alleged that the Respondent engaged in “pay-per-click” activities on the website resolved from the Disputed Domain Name. Although this is a bare allegation without any direct evidence, “pay-per-click” revenue is but only an example of commercial gain. The Panel has noted that the webpage resolved from the Disputed Domain Name advertised and promoted various types of insurance services. The Respondent must either have provided these services or have supplied advertising services to providers of these services. Both possibilities involve commercial gain. As such, a finding that the Respondent has registered and used the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) is difficult to avoid.

Further, paragraph 4(b)(iv) is only an illustration of bad faith registration and use. Bad faith registration and use can exist in other circumstances. The Panel agrees that typosquatting may be considered as evidence of bad faith registration and use. The registration of the Disputed Domain Name by the Respondent is done with knowledge of the Complainant’s trade mark ALLSTATE. The attempt to sell the Disputed Domain Name at the website “www.sedo.com” and the surreptitious hiding of the Respondent’s identity behind “Private Registration” after receiving the Complainant’s demand letters indicate to the Panel that the Respondent is in all likelihood a typosquatter.

In the circumstances, the Panel holds that bad faith registration and use of the Disputed Domain Name is established.

7. Decision

For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Disputed Domain Name, <aqllstate.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.

Kar Liang Soh
Sole Panelist
Dated: August 12, 2011

 

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