WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Hartford Fire Insurance Company v. Zhichao Yang
Case No. D2015-1551
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Hartford Fire Insurance Company of Connecticut, United States of America (“United States), represented by Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, PC, United States.
The Respondent is Zhichao Yang of Hefei, China.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <hartfordinsureance.com>, <thegartford.com>, <thehardfordinsurance.com>, <theharfordinsurance.com>, <thehartdford.com>, <thehartfordcarinsurance.com>, <thehartfore.com>, <thehortford.com>, <thehratford.com> and <thhehartford.com> (collectively, the “Disputed Domain Names”) are registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 28, 2015. On August 31, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Names. On August 31, 2015, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the Respondent’s 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 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on September 14, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 4, 2015. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 12, 2015.
The Center appointed John Swinson as the sole panelist in this matter on October 12, 2015. 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 Hartford Fire Insurance Company, which commonly trades under the name “The Hartford”. The Complainant was founded in 1810, and is currently one of the largest insurance and financial services companies operating in the United States. It has received a number of awards, and has an excellent reputation in the industry.
The Complainant has a number of registered trade marks for THE HARTFORD and HARTFORD in the United States, the earliest of which was registered in 1981. The Complainant has provided evidence of these registrations. The Complainant also has registered trade marks for the same terms in many other jurisdictions. Collectively, these will be referred to as the “Trade Mark”.
The Complainant operates its website from the domain name <thehartford.com>.
The Respondent is Zhichao Yang, an individual of China. The Respondent did not file a Response, and consequently little information is known about the Respondent.
The Respondent registered each of the Disputed Domain Names on July 14, 2012.
The website at each of the Disputed Domain Names features pay per click (“PPC”) links. Most of these websites advertise the Complainant and its competitors. A small number of websites provide links to unrelated services.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant makes the following submissions. The Complainant has helpfully referred to a large number of relevant decisions made by previous panels to support its submissions, which the Panel does not propose to repeat below.
Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Disputed Domain Names are all confusingly similar to the Trade Mark. All but one of the Disputed Domain Names are common typosquatting mistakes, which is sufficient to establish confusing similarity.
In the case of <thehartfordcarinsurance.com>, the addition of generic terms “car” and “insurance” does not alleviate the confusion. As the Complainant is a leading provider of car insurance, the addition of these terms makes confusion more likely.
Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has not granted any license, permission or other right that would allow the Respondent to register and use the Disputed Domain Names. The Disputed Domain Names are not related to a legitimate interest of the Respondent.
The Respondent’s use of the Disputed Domain Names, which contain misspellings of the Trade Mark, to divert Internet users to advertisements and other websites is not a bona fide use of the Disputed Domain Names. The Respondent is likely to be profiting from diverting Internet traffic intended for the Complainant.
There is no apparent reason for the Respondent to have registered the Disputed Domain Names other than to profit from the fame of the Trade Mark, which is not a bona fide use of the Disputed Domain Names.
Registration and Use in Bad Faith
The Trade Mark has been used for many years and is widely recognized. Given the Disputed Domain Names are so closely connected with the Trade Mark, bad faith can be presumed. Further, it is well established under the Policy that typosquatting constitutes bad faith registration.
It is likely the Respondent is using the Disputed Domain Names to benefit from the level of Internet traffic from Internet users seeking the Complainant’s website. Use of the Disputed Domain Names to redirect those users to advertising pages and third party websites constitutes bad faith under the Policy.
The Respondent has a history of registering and using domain names in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
To succeed, the Complainant must demonstrate that all of the elements enumerated in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been satisfied, namely:
(i) the Disputed Domain Names are identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Names; and
(iii) the Disputed Domain Names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
The onus of proving these elements remains on the Complainant even though the Respondent has not filed a Response.
A. Procedural Issues
The Respondent’s failure to file a response does not automatically result in a decision in favour of the Complainant (see, e.g., Airbus SAS, Airbus Operations GmbH v. Alesini Pablo Hernan / PrivacyProtect.org, WIPO Case No. D2013-2059). However, the Panel may draw appropriate inferences from the Respondent’s default.
B. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy provides that the Complainant must establish that the Disputed Domain Names are identical or confusingly similar to the Trade Mark.
As the Complainant submitted, all but one of the Disputed Domain Names are common misspellings of the Trade Mark. They differ from the Trade Mark only by additional, substituted or inverted letters. It is well established that “typosquatting” can constitute confusing similarity (Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft v. New York TV Tickets Inc., WIPO Case No. D2001-1314; DaimlerChrysler Corporation v. Worshipping, Chrisler, and Chr, aka Dream Media and aka Peter Conover, WIPO Case No. D2000-1272; and Playboy Enterprises v. Movie Name Company, WIPO Case No. D2001-1201). The Panel considers this case to be a clear case of typosquatting.
One of the Disputed Domain Names, <thehartfordcarinsurance.com>, wholly incorporates the Trade Mark and combines it with the term “car insurance”, which is descriptive of the services provided by the Complainant and which Internet users are likely to associate with the Complainant. As the Complainant submitted, these factors serve to increase the confusing similarity.
The Disputed Domain Names are confusingly similar to the Trade Mark. The Complainant succeeds on the first element of the Policy.
C. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy provides that the Complainant must establish that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Names. The Complainant is required to make out a prima facie case showing that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests.
The Panel considers the Complainant has made out a prima facie case. This finding is based on the following:
- The Respondent has not used, or made demonstrable preparations to use, the Disputed Domain Names in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. The websites at the Disputed Domain Names feature PPC link pages. Most of these links relate to the financial services and insurance industries, and many direct Internet users to the Complainant’s competitors. This is not a bona fide use of the Disputed Domain Names under the Policy.
- The Panel accepts the Complainant’s submission that the Complainant has not authorized or otherwise given the Respondent permission to use the Disputed Domain Names.
- There is no evidence that the Respondent has been commonly known by the Disputed Domain Names, or has registered or common law trade mark rights in relation to any of these names.
- The Respondent has not been making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Disputed Domain Names without intent for commercial gain. As submitted by the Complainant, it is likely that the Respondent is profiting from the PPC advertising on the websites at the Disputed Domain Names. In the absence of any evidence from the Respondent to the contrary, the Panel is of the view that this does not amount to a bona fide use for the purposes of the Policy.
- As previous panels have found, typosquatting does not constitute a legitimate use of the Disputed Domain Names (see, e.g., Edmunds.com, Inc. v. Yingkun Guo, dba This domain is 4 sale, WIPO Case No. D2006-0694; Barnes & Noble College Bookstores, Inc. v. Oleg Techino, WIPO Case No. D2006-1537).
The Respondent had the opportunity to demonstrate his rights or legitimate interests, but did not do so. As such, the prima facie case established by the Complainant has not been rebutted and the Complainant succeeds on the second element of the Policy.
D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy provides that the Complainant must establish that the Respondent registered and subsequently used the Disputed Domain Names in bad faith.
The Complainant has been operating for over 200 years, and has had registered trade mark rights for over 30 years. It is clearly a well-known, respected and established brand. The Disputed Domain Names were registered on July 14, 2012. Previous UDRP panels have found that where the reputation of a complainant in a given mark is significant and the mark has strong similarities to the disputed domain name, the likelihood of confusion is such that bad faith may be inferred (see, e.g. Verner Panton Design v. Fontana di Luce Corp, WIPO Case No. D2012-1909 and cases cited therein). Given the large number of domain names registered by the Respondent which are variations of the Trade Mark, the Panel finds it inconceivable that the Respondent was not aware of the Trade Mark at the time he registered the Disputed Domain Names.
Further, previous UDRP panels have found that if a respondent has engaged in typosquatting, that is sufficient to establish registration and use in bad faith (Barnes & Noble College Bookstores, Inc. v. Oleg Techino, WIPO Case No. D2006-1537; Edmunds.com, Inc. v. Yingkun Guo, dba This domain is 4 sale, WIPO Case No. D2006-0694; Sephora v. WhoisGuard, WIPO Case No. D2006-0845). In particular, the panel in National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, Inc., d/b/a Minor League Baseball v. John Zuccarini, WIPO Case No. D2002-1011, stated that “[t]yposquatting is inherently parasitic and of itself evidence of bad faith”. The Panel agrees with this view.
This is a clear case of typosquatting, having regard to the number of Disputed Domain Names and the minor differences between them and the Trade Mark. The Respondent has registered a number of common misspellings of the Trade Mark to divert traffic from the Complainant's website to the Respondent's websites. The Panel finds that this constitutes bad faith registration and use under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
Finally, the Complainant has identified a large number of other domain names registered by the Respondent (over 10,000), many of which incorporate well-known trade marks. The Complainant has also identified a number of previous UDRP panel decisions which have made adverse findings against the Respondent. The Panel further considers that the Respondent has engaged in a pattern of conduct of registering domain names to prevent owners of trade marks from reflecting their trade marks in those domain names, which is a further indicator of bad faith registration and use under paragraph 4(b)(ii) of the Policy. This pattern of conduct is evident both from these proceedings (which relate to 10 different domain names), and from the numerous other proceedings in which the Respondent has been named.
In light of the above, and in the absence of a Response and any evidence rebutting bad faith registration and use, the Panel finds that the Complainant has succeeded on the third element 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 Names <hartfordinsureance.com>, <thegartford.com>, <thehardfordinsurance.com>, <theharfordinsurance.com>, <thehartdford.com>, <thehartfordcarinsurance.com>, <thehartfore.com>, <thehortford.com>, <thehratford.com> and <thhehartford.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: October 22, 2015