World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

easyGroup IP Licensing Limited v. wang tao

Case No. DCO2012-0001

1. The Parties

The Complainant is easyGroup IP Licensing Limited of London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, represented by Clarke Willmott, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Respondent is wang tao of Beijing, China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <easyjet.co> is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 31, 2012. On January 31, 2012, the Center transmitted by email to GoDaddy.com, LLC. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 31, 2012, GoDaddy.com, 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 February 2, 2012. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was February 22, 2012. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 23, 2012.

The Center appointed Nathalie Dreyfus as the sole panelist in this matter on March 1, 2012. 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, easyGroup IP Licensing Limited, is a private investment vehicle.

The Complainant is the owner of various trademark registrations that comprise “easyjet”. These trademark registrations are mainly concerned with the provision of air travel and transportation and related travel goods and services (EASYJET, Republic of Korea trademark registration n°4100949200000, registered on December 23, 2003 and covering services in class 39; EASYJET, United Kingdom trademark registration n°2260901, registered on September 20, 2002 and covering goods and services in classes 16, 39 and 42 and EASYJET, International trademark registration n°751331, designating China, registered on February 8, 2001 and covering goods and services in classes 16, 39 and 42).

The Complainant is also the registrant of numerous domain names such as <easyjet.com> created on March 25, 1997 and <easyjet.co.uk> created on June 29, 1995.

The Complainant is the legal owner of the trademark registrations together with all the domain names incorporating the EASYJET trademark. By a license dated October 10, 2010, which replaced an older license dated November 5, 2000, the Complainant granted easyJet Airline Company Limited (“easyJet Airline”) an exclusive license to use the EASYJET trademarks and easyJet domain names.

The disputed domain name was registered on November 23, 2010. According to the public WhoIs details, the Respondent is wang tao, the current registrant of the disputed domain name. The webpage operating from the disputed domain name consists in the website “www.airlineinfos.com”, hosting sponsored links related to various travel companies.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends that its EASYJET trademark enjoys a significant reputation. The Complainant specifies that shortly after easyJet Airline launched in 1995, the number of visits from consumers throughout the world to its website increased. As an evidence of easyJet Airline’s reputation, the Complainant provides the numerous consumer and industry awards won by said airline.

The Complainant refers to the composition of the dispute domain name and highlights that it consists of the term “easyjet”. The Complainant therefore contents that the disputed domain name is identical to its trademark.

The Complainant further claims that many UDRP cases have already recognized its rights in and to the EASYJET trademarks (See easyGroup Licensing Limited v. American Systems USA Inc., WIPO Case No. D2005-1101; easyGroup Licensing Limited v. Philip Thornton, WIPO Case No. D2004-0826; easyGroup Licensing Limited v. John Sansone, WIPO Case No. D2004-0763; easyGroup Licensing Limited v. Amjad Kausar, WIPO Case No. D2003-0012; easyGroup Licensing Limited v. Stuart Snell, WIPO Case No. D2003-0862; easyJet Airline Company Limited v. Marie Claire & [Unknown], WIPO Case No.°2000-1504; easyJet Airline Company Limited v. Mahmoud Panjehshahi, WIPO Case No. D2000-0384; easyJet Airline Company Limited v. Andrew Steggles, WIPO Case No. D2000-0024).

Thus the Complainant also considers that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, which is identical to trademarks in which the Complainant has rights.

The Complainant alleges that the only entity authorized to use the EASYJET trademark is easyJet Airline.

According to the Complainant, the Respondent is not known and has never been known as “easyjet” nor engaged in the aviation business.

The Complainant points out that the Respondent is based in China but is the registrant of a Columbian domain name (given that the gTLD suffix “.co” corresponds to Colombia) whereas there is no evidence that the Respondent has any interest in the Colombian market as the sponsored links displayed on the website to which the disputed domain name resolves, are in English and are clearly targeted at English speaking people.

The Complainant has drawn to the Panel’s attention the fact that the Complainant first discovered that SJ Park had registered the disputed domain name which used to resolve to the website “www.cheapcheapflights.info”, hosting sponsored links to various travel related websites, including the official easyJet website. At that time, the Complainant sent a cease and desist letter on April 18, 2011, to SJ Park asking the latter to cease infringing the Complainant’s rights. The Complainant alleges that SJ Park tried on April 19, 2011, to sell the disputed domain name to the Complainant for more than its out of pocket expenses. The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name was transferred to the Respondent after the offer of the original registrant was rejected.

The Complainant also contends that the current content of the website operating from the dispute domain name, which directs to the website of “www.airlineinfos.com”, remained almost the same with the website of “www.cheapcheapflights.info” after the registrant’s details changed. Therefore, the Complainant submits that the acts of the original registrant, SJ Park, should also be considered the acts of the Respondent.

The Complainant contends that the Respondent’s purpose when registering the disputed domain name was to divert Internet users searching for the Complainant’s website “www.easyjet.com”, using a common misspelling by typing this latter.

Regarding that among the first links of the website to which the disputed domain name resolves is a link to the easyJet official website, the Complainant claims that the Respondent was perfectly aware of the Complainant. The Complainant then further contends that given the significant reputation of its trademark, the Respondent acquired the disputed domain name solely in order to attract Internet users and earn revenue from the sponsored links.

Thus the Complainant considers that the Respondent has both registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions and is therefore in default.

6. Discussion and Findings

The Panel is of the view that there are no exceptional circumstances within paragraph 5(e) of the Rules so as to prevent this Panel from determining the dispute based upon the Complaint, notwithstanding the failure of the Respondent to lodge a response.

Notwithstanding the default of the Respondent, it remains incumbent on the Complainant to make out its case in all respects under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy. Namely, the Complainant must prove that:

(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights (paragraph 4(a)(i)); and

(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name (paragraph 4(a)(ii)); and

(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith (paragraph 4(a)(iii)).

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The first element under the paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy requires the Complainant to establish the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which it has rights.

The Panel finds that the Complainant has established its registered trademark rights in EASYJET as evidenced by the trademark registrations submitted with the Complaint.

The Panel accepts that the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s ESAYJET trademark. Indeed, the disputed domain name reproduces entirely the term “easyjet”. The disputed domain name <easyjet.co> differs from the Complainant’s trademark EASYJET only to the extent of the addition of the suffix “.co”. It has been held in numerous UDRP decisions that the addition of the gTLD suffix does not affect the likelihood of confusion merely because it is necessary for the registration of the domain name itself (See Confederation Nationale du Crédit Mutuel contre Naser Messili, WIPO Case No. DCO2011-0010). Therefore, in the present case, the mere addition of the extension “.co” is not to be taken into consideration when examining the identity or similarity between the Complainant’s trademark and the disputed domain name.

The Complainant has therefore made out the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The second element under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy requires the Complainant to establish the Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

The Panel finds no evidence that the Respondent ever had any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

In view of the Panel, it is considered as “cyberflight” the practice where the registration information is altered once a respondent has become aware of proceedings being brought against it under the UDRP (See Accor v. JE Jeong, WIPO Case No. D2010-0040). In the present case, given that the content of the website to which the disputed domain name resolves, which remained the same after the registrant’s details changed, the original registrant and the Respondent appear still to be one and the same person. The Panel is of the opinion that such a behavior is a strong indicator of the Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests.

As the Complainant points out, the disputed domain name <easyjet.co> imitates the Complainant’s official domain name <easyjet.com> and it appears that the Respondent is using a common misspelling of Internet users looking for the Complainant’s website. An unintentional and inadvertent typing error of leaving out an “m” may cause a consumer intending to reach the Complainant’s website at “www.easyjet.com” to end up on the page associated with the disputed domain name (See Accor v. JE Jeong, supra.). This registration corresponds to “typosquatting”. Indeed, typosquatting is a form of Internet cybersquatting, based on the probability that a certain number of Internet users will mistype the domain name of a website (or actually its URL) when surfing the Internet. The Panel agrees that this type of use is neither a bona fide offering of goods or services nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use.

The website operating from the disputed domain name not only features sponsored links related to Complainant’s official website but also sponsored links related to the Complainant’s competitors. In these circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent uses the disputed domain name to generate revenue via pay-per-click sponsored links. The Panel accepts that such behavior does not provide a right or legitimate interest for the purpose of the Policy.

Therefore, the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(ii) is also met.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The third element under paragraph 4(a)(iii) requires the Complainant to establish that the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith.

The disputed domain name consists of the term “easyjet” in which the Complainant has rights. The Panel is of the view that the registration of such a domain name is a strong indication of the Respondent’s bad faith. In the circumstance of the case, the Panel finds that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name to divert Internet user from the Complainant’s website and attract them to its own website by capitalizing on a common spelling error.

The disputed domain name reproduces the Complainant’s trademark and it appears obvious to the Panel that the website operating from the disputed domain name displays sponsored links in order to generate income from people clicking on the website. It has already been recognized that “the use of a domain name that is deceptively similar to a trademark to obtain click-through-revenue is found to be bad faith use” (See Mpire Corporation v. Michael Frey, WIPO Case No. D2009-0258). In the present case, the Panel finds that the Respondent was using the disputed domain name to intentionally attempt to attract Internet users to the website associated with the disputed domain name. The Panel finds that the Respondent creates a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademarks as to the source, sponsored ship, affiliation, or endorsement of its website, in order to direct traffic away from the Complainant and generate commercial gain and revenue from the sponsored links displayed on the website associated to the disputed domain name.

In the circumstances of this case, the Panel holds that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith in the sense of the Policy.

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, <easyjet.co> be transferred to the Complainant.

Nathalie Dreyfus
Sole Panelist
Dated: March 15, 2012

 

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