WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Comerica Bank v. Brian Williams
Case No. D2014-0289
1. The Parties
Complainant is Comerica Bank of Dallas, Texas, United States of America, represented by Bodman PLC, United States of America.
Respondent is Brian Williams of West Hollywood, California, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <comerlica.com> is registered with Network Solutions, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 26, 2014. On February 26, 2014, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On February 27, 2014, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming Respondent as the registrant and provided 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on March 10, 2014. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was March 30, 2014. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on March 31, 2014.
The Center appointed Lorelei Ritchie as the sole panelist in this matter on April 7, 2014. 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
Complainant Comerica is a financial services company based in Texas, in the United States of America. Complainant is listed as one of the top 50 holding companies in the United States by the National Information Center for assets held, with a total of over USD 65 billion attributed as of December 31, 2013. Complainant owns registrations for the mark COMERICA (United States Registration No. 1,251,846, registered 1983), COMERICA and design (United States Registration No. 1,776,041), and various other marks containing the term COMERICA, or derivatives thereof. Complainant also owns registrations for domain names containing this mark, including <comerica.com>, <comerica.net>, and <comerica.org>, and runs a website for prospective customers from at least the first of these URLs according to the materials submitted.
The disputed domain name <comerlica.com> was registered on January 25, 2014. Respondent has no affiliation with Complainant. Respondent has a parked web page at the URL with sponsored links attached thereto. Complainant has not authorized these activities by Respondent, nor any use of its trademarks thereby.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant contends that (i) <comerlica.com> is identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademarks; (ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name; and (iii) Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Respondent did not file a reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
This Panel must first determine whether <comerlica.com> is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy. The Panel finds that it is.
The domain name <comerlica.com> is virtually identical, and is confusingly similar, to Complainant’s mark, COMERICA, adding only a stray letter in the middle of the mark. This indicates a practice commonly known as “typosquatting,” where a domain name registrant deliberately registers common misspellings of a well-known mark in order to divert consumer traffic. Other UDRP panels have routinely found typosquatted domain names like this one to be “confusingly similar” for purposes of a finding under the UDRP. See Edmonds.com, Inc. v. Yingkun Guo, WIPO Case No. D2006-0694 (<edunds.com>); Disney Enterprises, Inc. v. John Zuccarini, Cupcake City and Cupcake Patrol, WIPO Case No. D2001-0489 (<disneychanel.com>, <disneywolrd.com>, <walddisney.com>).
The Panel therefore finds that Complainant has satisfied the first requirement under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Policy provides some guidance to respondents on how to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the domain name at issue in a UDRP dispute. For example, paragraph 4(c) of the Policy gives examples that might show rights or legitimate interests in a domain name. These examples include: (i) use of the domain name “in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services”; (ii) demonstration that respondent has been “commonly known by the domain name”; or (iii) “legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue”.
Respondent did not submit a reply to the Complaint, and no evidence has been presented to this Panel that might support a claim of Respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. Rather, as mentioned in Section 4 of this Panel’s decision, Respondent has used the disputed domain name to divert Internet users via sponsored links.
Therefore, this Panel finds that Complainant has provided sufficient evidence of Respondent’s lack of “rights or legitimate interests” in accordance with paragraph (4)(a)(ii) of the Policy which Respondent has not rebutted.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
There are several ways that a complainant can demonstrate that a domain name was registered and used in bad faith. For example, paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy states that bad faith can be shown where “by using the domain name [respondent has] intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [respondent’s] 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 [respondent’s] website or location or of a product or service on [the] web site or location”. As noted in Section 4 of this Panel’s decision, Respondent has a parked webpage at the URL associated with the disputed domain name, with sponsored links to other websites. Hence, Respondent is trading on the goodwill of Complainant’s trademarks to attract Internet users, presumably for Respondent’s own commercial gain.
Some panels have applied the passive holding concept to mere “parking” by a third-party. Passive holding of a domain name does not shield a respondent from a finding of bad faith. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition, paragraph 3.2, consensus view (“With comparative reference to the circumstances set out in paragraph 4(b) of the UDRP deemed to establish bad faith registration and use, panels have found that the apparent lack of so-called active use (e.g., to resolve to a website) of the domain name without any active attempt to sell or to contact the trademark holder (passive holding), does not as such prevent a finding of bad faith”). Rather, a panel must examine “all of the circumstances,” including, for example, whether a complainant has a well-known trademark, and whether the respondent replies to the complaint. Complainant has shown that it has a strong presence in the United States, the country where Respondent lists his address of record. It stretches credibility to believe that Respondent was not aware of Complainant and its marks when he registered the disputed domain name.
Therefore, this Panel finds that Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
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 <comerlica.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Dated: April 8 2014