WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Alma Media Oyj v. Stephan Lehmann
Case No. D2016-2146
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Alma Media Oyj of Helsinki, Finland, represented by Castrén & Snellman, Finland.
The Respondent is Stephan Lehmann of Rosengarten, Germany, self-represented.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <vuokrovi.com> is registered with EPAG Domainservices GmbH (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 24, 2016. On October 24, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 28, 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 and noting that the language of the registration agreement is German.
Pursuant to the Complaint submitted in English and the Registrar’s confirmation that German is the language of the registration agreement, on October 31, 2016, the Center requested that the Parties submit their comments on the language of the proceeding. On November 3, 2016, the Complainant submitted its request for English to be the language of the proceeding. The Respondent did not submit any comment on the language of the proceeding.
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 November 8, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 28, 2016. The Respondent did not submit any response by November 28, 2016. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 29, 2016. The Respondent sent a letter on November 29, 2016 after the notification of the Respondent’s default.
The Center appointed Tobias Zuberbühler as the sole panelist in this matter on December 2, 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 operates an online market place for rental properties and related services and is the owner of the European Union trademark No. 5855747 VUOKRAOVI (registration date: March 7, 2008). The Complainant has been operating its website since January 2007 under the domain name <vuokraovi.com>.
The disputed domain name <vuokrovi.com> was registered on September 15, 2016 and has been connected to a website resembling the login page of the Complainant’s website. The website linked to the disputed domain name is currently blocked, upon instruction by the Respondent himself.
5. Parties’ Contentions
In summary, the Complainant contends the following:
The Complainant’s trademark and the disputed domain name differ only by one letter: The disputed domain name lacks a letter “a” in the middle compared to the Complainant’s trademark.
The Complainant’s trademark is a combination of two Finnish words, “vuokra” (“rent”) and “ovi” (“door”). The combination “vuokraovi” (“rent door”) is not a word used in Finnish standard language. The disputed domain name (“vuokrovi”) does not mean anything in any common language to the best knowledge of the Complainant. Therefore, it must be concluded that the disputed domain name is a misspelled version of the Complainant’s trademark.
According to the Complainant’s best knowledge, the Respondent has not used or prepared to use the disputed domain name in connection with any bona fide offering of goods and services. Neither has the Respondent been commonly known by the disputed domain name. Moreover, the Respondent is not in any way related to the Complainant’s business, nor has the Complainant ever given any authorization to the Respondent to use or register the disputed domain name.
The fact that the Respondent has registered a domain name which only differs from the Complainant’s trademark by a typographical misspelling by itself strongly indicates that the disputed domain name has been registered in bad faith.
As further evidence of bad faith, the Complainant has become aware of emails sent in the name of the Complainant’s service to the Complainant’s customers on September 20, 2016, i.e., within five days of registration of the disputed domain name. A link in the emails led to a website connected with the disputed domain name which resembles the login page of the Complainant’s website. The website connected to the disputed domain name collected user names and passwords, upon which it redirected Internet users to the Complainant’s website. The Complainant is aware of cases where the user names and passwords obtained this way have been used for fraudulent activities and has filed a request for criminal investigation with the Finnish police.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions within the set deadline, but sent a letter (in German) to the Center one day later (on November 29, 2016), explaining that one of his domain name accounts had been hacked. Three domain names (including the disputed domain name) had been registered under his name and used by the hackers. The Respondent had filed a criminal complaint on September 16, 2016 at his domicile in Germany and blocked the domain names with his provider.
The Respondent provided copies of the criminal complaint and an answer by his provider of September 23, 2016 as attachments to his letter to the Center of November 29, 2016.
The Respondent concluded his letter by emphasizing that he “considered the matter as concluded” as to himself, since he was not in a position to react earlier and did not have anything to do with the registration of the disputed domain name.
6. Discussion and Findings
6.1. Language of the Proceeding
Despite the fact that the registration agreement for the disputed domain name is in German, the Complainant has requested English as language of the proceeding, arguing that the Respondent could be assumed to understand English and Complainant would be disadvantaged if it had to translate the Complaint and other materials related to the administrative proceedings into German.
Considering that the Respondent, who appears to be working in the media industry, indeed may be expected to understand English and does not consider himself affected by these proceedings in any event, the Panel holds that the language of the proceedings shall be English.
6.2. Substantive Issues
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s registered trademark VUOKRAOVI except for the omission of the letter “a”.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is thus confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights and that the Complainant has thus fulfilled paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The use of the disputed domain name, which is a misspelling of the trademark of the Complainant (i.e., a case of so-called typo-squatting), cannot be considered use in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use. The Panel refers to National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, Inc., d/b/a Minor League Baseball v. John Zuccarini, WIPO Case No. D2002-1011.
Additionally, the Panel notes that from the present record, it does not appear that the Respondent is commonly known by the domain name, or has any other basis for demonstrating any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Since the Complainant has shown that the Respondent does not have a right or a legitimate interest in the disputed domain name, the Complainant has fulfilled the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Under the circumstances of this case, it appears plausible that hackers gained access to a domain name account of the Respondent with his provider, registered the disputed domain name in the Respondent’s name, created emails with links to a website under the disputed domain name to obtain login information by the Complainant’s customers and engaged in fraudulent activities with such information (so-called “phishing”).
It can thus be inferred that the hackers were aware of the Complainant’s trademark when registering the disputed domain name.
Furthermore, the Panel notes that the disputed domain name is an example of typo-squatting and has been used for phishing activities, which clearly demonstrates bad faith.
In summary, the Panel finds that the hackers (impersonating the Respondent) have registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith, thus fulfilling 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 <vuokrovi.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: December 16, 2016