WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
ZB, N.A., A National Banking Association, dba Zions First National Bank v. Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp
Case No. D2016-0999
1. The Parties
The Complainant is ZB, N.A., A National Banking Association, dba Zions First National Bank of Salt Lake City, Utah, United States of America ("United States" or "US"), represented by TechLaw Ventures, PLLC, United States.
The Respondent is Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp of Nassau, Bahamas.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <zionsbsnk.com> is registered with TLD Registrar Solutions Ltd. (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on May 18, 2016. On May 19, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On May 23, 2016, the Registrar 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 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on May 24, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was June 13, 2016. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on June 14, 2016.
The Center appointed William A. Van Caenegem as the sole panelist in this matter on June 21, 2016. 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 has rights in the following word marks registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office: ZIONS BANK, Registration No. 2,381,006 of August 29, 2000; ZIONSBANK.COM, Registration No. 2,531,436 of June 22, 2002; and ZIONS, Registration No. 2,380,325 of August 29, 2000.
The disputed domain name was registered on May 9, 2012.
The Complainant is active in the banking and financial services sectors in the United States. The Complainant's parent company is the owner of a number of US registered trademarks including the mark ZIONSBANK.COM, as indicated above. According to the Complainant the Respondent in this matter has included identical marks in the disputed domain name, except for the substitution of 's' for 'a', in a typical case of typosquatting. The Complainant's trademark is said to be clearly recognizable in the disputed domain name, which is confusingly similar but for the slight spelling error. A domain name which contains obvious misspelling of a trademark will usually be found to be confusingly similar to a trademark, if the misspelled trademark is the dominant or principal part of the domain name. Internet users may believe there is a legitimate connection between the Respondent and the Complainant as a consequence, such connection not in fact existing.
Internet users using the disputed domain name are directed to a website that references various banking terms and links to financial services. According to the Complainant the website is likely to confuse consumers as to the source of the goods being offered under the Complainant's marks.
According to the Complainant the Respondent has engaged in typosquatting to take advantage of users seeking to find the Complainant's website at the domain name <zionsbank.com>, and the services offered at that site, but who mistakenly type the disputed domain name.
The Complainant asserts that the Respondent has also displayed the mark ZIONS BANK on the website associated with the disputed domain name.
Further, the Complainant asserts that it was using and had registered its various trademarks here at issue for a long time before the disputed domain name was registered by the Respondent. Although in some cases the use of parking and landing pages can be permissible according to the Complainant, it does not by itself confer rights or vest legitimate interests arising from use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the disputed domain name, or a corresponding name, in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. The disputed domain name in this case resolves to a website displaying the Complainant's marks, and links to competing financial services. This does not amount to a "bona fide offering of goods or services" or a "legitimate noncommercial or fair use" of the disputed domain name.
Further the Complainant asserts that it is not aware that the Respondent, as an individual, business, or other organization, has been commonly known by the disputed domain name, even in the absence of trademark or service mark rights in its name. The Complainant also asserts that the Respondent is not a licensee of the Complainant's trademarks, and has not otherwise obtained authorization to use them.
According to the Complainant, the use of virtually identical or similar marks indicates that the disputed domain name was registered primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of the Complainant, and appears to be intended to take advantage of the goodwill associated with the Complainant's trademarks. The Respondent is attempting to exploit the goodwill vested in the Complainant for either malicious purposes or some commercial gain. With an apparently intentional typographical error it is intending to create confusion with the Complainant's mark as to source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement. Even if the website posts and advertising links on the relevant webpage are automatically generated, according to the Complainant it remains the Respondent's responsibility to prevent inclusion by good faith efforts, of which there is no evidence in this case. Further, some of the links appearing at the relevant webpage could be associated with phishing or other fraudulent activities, and may tarnish the Complainant's trademarks.
Although the disputed domain name does not always resolve to the same webpages according to the Complainant, at least one of the pages includes the Complainant's trademarks ZIONS and ZIONS BANK and also links to competitive products and services. The use of a privacy or proxy service although in itself not sufficient may, taken together with other factors as in this case, be further evidence of bad faith on the part of a respondent.
Finally, the Complainant indicates that it has been successful in a substantial number of other matters where the Complainant's trademarks were included in disputed domain names of a similar character as the domain name at issue in this proceeding.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name in this matter is not identical to any of the trademarks in which Complainant has rights. However, the Complainant has rights in ZIONS BANK and ZIONSBANK.COM and the disputed domain name relevantly only differs by way of substitution of the 'a' in 'bank' by an 's'. As a result, the disputed domain name has the appearance typical of a typosquatting registration, i.e., registration of a domain name that differs only by way of a minor spelling or typing error from a registered trademark to cause Internet users to arrive at webpages not in fact associated with the Complainant. The disputed domain name is in this case so similar to the registered trademarks of the Complainant that the difference between the two is easily or readily overlooked by a user trying to find the Complainant's authorized website on the Internet.
Therefore the Panel holds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the marks in which the Complainant has rights, ZIONS BANK and ZIONSBANK.COM.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The disputed domain name resolves to webpages that contain sponsored links and links that could lend themselves to phishing or other fraudulent activities, but that have varied over time. They have, according to the Complainant, the appearance of links, typically found on parking or landing pages, that are automatically generated. However, that is of no consequence since the contents of the webpages to which a disputed domain name resolves are primarily the responsibility of the registrant. The latter has not filed a Response in this matter, and is likely to be drawing some commercial or financial advantage from the links included on the relevant webpages. The Respondent manifestly seeks to rely on the typographical errors commonly made by Internet users to obtain this advantage, thereby seeking to benefit from the goodwill and reputation inherent in the Complainant's marks. Typosquatting is not an activity of a kind to vest rights or legitimate interests in a registrant. In this case the disputed domain name with its typographical error cannot be seen as anything other than typical typosquatting – there is no alternative meaning attached to the different spelling employed by the Respondent to distort the Complainant's trademarks, nor any other innocent explanation available.
Therefore the Panel holds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant registered its relevant trademarks long before the registration date of the disputed domain name. In any case it has traded in the financial and banking services sector under its very distinctive ZIONS mark since the late 19th century. It is wholly improbable that the Respondent was unaware of the goodwill vesting in the Complainant's marks at the time of registration. Further, the Respondent deliberately included a spelling error further demonstrating its lack of good faith at the time of registration. It can only be inferred that the Respondent intended to take advantage of the fact that Internet users searching for the Complainant but making a typing error in that process would land on its website instead. The Respondent included, at least at certain times, hyperlinks on the webpages to which the disputed domain name resolves that direct Internet users towards services offered by competitors of the Complainant. It also included links that could result in phishing or defrauding of Internet users, for instance because they seek the input of login details. It is apparent in the circumstances that this is a typical case of typosquatting which is an activity characterized by bad faith reliance on consumer error.
Therefore the Panel holds that the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith.
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 <zionsbsnk.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
WiIliam A. Van Caenegem
Date: July 5, 2016