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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center


CenterPoint Energy, Inc. v. Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0155489582 / Accounts Receivable

Case No. D2019-2638

1. The Parties

The Complainant is CenterPoint Energy, Inc., United States of America, represented by Fibbe Lightner, LLP, United States of America.

The Respondent is Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0155489582, Canada / Accounts Receivable, United States of America.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <centerpointenerqy.com> is registered with Tucows Inc. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 29, 2019. On October 29, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 30, 2019 and on November 4, 2019, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on November 4, 2019, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on November 6, 2019.

The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to 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, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 28, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 29, 2019.

The Center appointed Nicolas Ulmer as the sole panelist in this matter on December 6, 2019. 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 a company in the United States of America that is active in the fields of energy transmission and delivery, natural gas distribution, and energy services; the Complainant has long-operated a website connected to its domain name <centerpointenergy.com>. The Complainant’s customers may review and pay their energy bills through that website. According to the Complaint, the Complainant has more than a billion US Dollars in net income.

The Complaint and its Annexes reveal that the Complainant holds eight United States of America trademarks, in various classes, sometimes with logos, for iterations of the name “CenterPoint Energy”; these trademarks were registered between 2003 and 2017.

The disputed domain name was registered on August 19, 2019.

Little is known about the Respondent, who has not answered the Complaint and apparently operates behind a privacy screen.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name solely comprises the well-known CENTERPOINT ENERGY trademark with a typographical misspelling of interchanging “enerqy” for “energy”, and as such is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks.

The Complainant further asserts that the Respondent is a “typosquatter” who has not be given, nor has, any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

Finally, the Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name could only have been registered in bad faith and for bad faith purpose, and that the clearly deliberate minor misspelling of its trademark is evidence and indicia of this that has been recognized in UDRP cases and jurisprudence. See, WIPO Overview of WIPO panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) at section 1.9.

Thereupon the Complainant requests that the disputed domain name be transferred to it.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The disputed domain name closely resembles and incorporates the entirety of the Complainant’s trademark, but for a misspelling creating a word that does not exist in the English language. As such the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks, notwithstanding the, apparently deliberate, misspelling. See, e.g., Estée Lauder Inc. v. estelauder.com, estelauder.net and Jeff Hanna, WIPO Case No. D2000-0869. It follows that the Complainant has met its burden under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Complainant clearly asserts that it has not licensed or authorized the Respondent to use its trademarks in the disputed domain name or otherwise, and has no knowledge or belief that the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. It is furthermore obvious that the Respondent is not known by the name “centerpointenerqy”.

There is here no indication that the Respondent has used the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services, or that there is any legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Complainant’s trademark.

It is the consensus view of previous UDRP panels that a complainant needs to set forth at least a prima facie case that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, see Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455. Where such a prima facie case is made, the burden of production shifts to the respondent to demonstrate its rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. If the respondent fails to do so, the complainant can be deemed to have satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy. See also, Meizu Technology Co., Ltd. v. “osama bin laden”, WIPO Case No. DCO2014-0002; H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB v. Simon Maufe, Akinsaya Odunayo Emmanuel and Nelson Rivaldo, WIPO Case No. D2014-0225.

In the instant case the Respondent has not answered the Complaint; the Complainant has established at least such a prima facie case; and there is nothing in the case file that would rebut or contradict it. The Complainant has therefore met its burden of proof under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The registration of a domain name that contains an apparently deliberate typo that alone differentiates it from a trademarked name is itself strongly indicia of bad faith. See generally, WIPO Overview 3.0 at section 3.1.4. In the instant case the Respondent has registered a misspelled non-word that is confusingly similar to a long-established trademark of a well-known company. This can, based on the evidence in the case file, only be found to be a bad faith use and registration - and this notwithstanding the fact that the Respondent has thus far not made active use of the disputed domain name, which currently resolves to a genre of holding page.

Under the facts and circumstances here the Panel accepts the Complainant’s contention that: “[…] the only plausible reason to register a domain name that comprises a slight misspelling of another’s trademark and is not a word in itself (as ‘centerpointenerqy’ is not a word) is to reserve for the registrant the ability to mislead and redirect consumers at some future date. This cannot possibly constitute good faith.”

The Panel accordingly finds bad faith registration and use within the meaning of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

7. Decision

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 <centerpointenerqy.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Nicolas Ulmer
Sole Panelist
Date: December 19, 2019