WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Verizon Trademark Services LLC v. Verizom Inc
Case No. D2017-0281
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Verizon Trademark Services LLC of Arlington, Virginia, United States of America ("United States"), internally represented.
The Respondent is Verizom Inc of Seoul, Republic of Korea.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <verizom.com> is registered with Inames Co., Ltd. (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on February 13, 2017. On February 14, 2017, the Center transmitted to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On February 15, 2017, the Registrar transmitted to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details.
On February 15, 2017, the Center notified the parties, in both English and Korean, that the Complaint was submitted in English, and that according to the Registrar, the language of the Registration Agreement is Korean. In the same notification, the Center instructed the Complainant to provide, by February 18, 2017:
"1) satisfactory evidence of an agreement between the Complainant and the Respondent to the effect that the proceedings should be in English; or
2) submit the Complaint translated into Korean; or
3) submit a request for English to be the language of the administrative proceedings…."
To the Respondent, the Center stated that "if the Respondent is intending to participate in these proceedings, and/or has any comments on the Complainant's submission replying to this notification, the Respondent is requested to submit these to the Center by February 20, 2017." The Center also advised the Respondent:
"Specifically in the case of the Complainant submitting (or indicating that it will submit) a request for the language of proceedings to be English, and the Respondent objects to such request, the Respondent is invited to indicate that objection for the record, and to submit any arguments/supporting materials … as to why the proceedings should not be conducted in English.
Please note that if we do not hear from you by [February 20, 2017], we will proceed on the basis that you have no objection to the Complainant's request that English be the language of proceedings."
On February 17, 2017, the Complainant requested that English be the language of the proceeding, to which the Respondent did not reply.
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, in both English and Korean, formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceeding commenced on February 23, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for the Response was March 15, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, on March 16, 2017, the Center notified the Respondent's default.
The Center appointed Professor Ilhyung Lee as the sole panelist in this matter on March 28, 2017. 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 describes itself as "one of the world's leading providers of communications, entertainment, IT and security products and services to residential, business, wholesale, and government wireline and wireless customers." Since 2000, it has offered various products and services using the VERIZON trademark and service mark in the United States and throughout the world. The Complainant has received registration of multiple VERIZON marks in several countries, including the United States (on September 21, 2004, among others) and the Republic of Korea (on September 7, 2001, and October 4, 2002).
The Complainant also registered its domain name <verizon.com> on March 6, 2000.
The Respondent registered the disputed domain name <verizom.com> on December 21, 2010.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant contends principally that: (i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which the Complainant has rights; (ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and (iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. In addition, the Complaint states:
"[T]here is no connection between Complainant and Respondent."
"Korean counsel for Complainant has conducted an investigation and determined (1) that there is no company called 'Verizom Inc' organized in Korea and (2) that the street address provided by the Respondent is non-existent."
"Respondent chose to register the <verizom.com> domain name to capitalize on the consumer recognition of the famous VERIZON Marks …."
"It is well settled that the registration and use of a domain name that is confusingly similar to a well-known mark is indicative of opportunistic bad faith."
"[T]he Respondent's formulation of the <verizom.com> domain name bespeaks deliberate typosquatting."
"[T]he <verizom.com> domain name resolves to a homepage which frames, or features content copied from, the homepage of Complainant's website located at <verizon.com>."
"Complainant sent Respondent five letters … demanding Respondent transfer the <verizom.com> domain name to Complainant. Respondent failed to respond to Complainant's letters.… This conduct is indicative of Respondent's bad faith …."
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions. Paragraphs 5(e) and 14(a) of the Rules permit the Panel to decide the dispute based on the Complaint. Under paragraph 14(b), the Panel may draw appropriate inferences from the Respondent's default.
6. Discussion and Findings
Initially, the Panel must address the language of the proceeding.
Paragraph 11(a) of the Rules provides that the language of the registration agreement is the language of the administrative proceeding, unless otherwise agreed by the parties or specified in the registration agreement. But the rule also states that the determination of the language is "subject to the authority of the Panel …, having regard to the circumstances of the administrative proceeding." Here, the language of the Registration Agreement is Korean. Nevertheless, the Complainant requests that English be the language of the proceeding.
After receiving the Complaint submitted in English, the Center notified the Parties, in both Korean and English, of the Center's procedural rules regarding the language of the proceeding. The Center informed the Respondent that it may object timely to a proceeding conducted in the English language. The Respondent did not respond to the Center's notification, and has declined to take part in the proceeding. Under these circumstances, the Panel determines that English is the language of the proceeding.
In order to prevail on the merits, the Complainant must satisfy each of the three elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel determines that the disputed domain name <verizom.com> is identical or confusingly similar to VERIZON, a mark in which the Complainant has rights. The disputed domain name differs from the Complainant's mark by altering the final letter, from "n" to "m". As the Complainant points out, the keystrokes for these two letters are adjacent on the standard keyboard. For purposes of paragraph 4(a)(i), the generic Top-Level Domain (here, ".com"), a technical requirement of every domain name, is not considered.
The Complainant has demonstrated the first element.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant states that it has not authorized the Respondent to register or use the Complainant's protected mark. The Complainant has met its initial burden of making a prima facie showing. The burden shifts to the Respondent to demonstrate any such rights or legitimate interests. The Respondent has defaulted. The Panel is unable to ascertain any evidence that would demonstrate the Respondent's rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, as described in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, or otherwise.
The second element is satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, the Complainant must show that the disputed domain name "has been registered and is being used in bad faith." Paragraph 4(b) provides a non-exhaustive list of circumstances that are "evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith".
The Panel concludes that the Respondent must have known about the Complainant or the Complainant's mark, VERIZON, when the Respondent registered the disputed domain name <verizom.com>. The disputed domain name resolves to a website that includes (i) a graphic similar to that seen in the website for the Complainant's <verizon.com> domain name and (ii) text relating to the Complainant's line of products and services: "Devices, accessories, and mobile plans" and "Internet, TV and phone services". There is ample evidence to conclude that the Respondent "intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [the Respondent's] web site … by creating a likelihood of confusion with the [C]omplainant's mark," as set forth in paragraph 4(b)(iv). Moreover, a previous UDRP panel's statement that "[t]yposquatting is inherently parasitic and of itself evidence of bad faith",1 is fitting here.
The Panel concludes that the requisite bad faith element is established.
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 <verizom.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: April 11, 2017