WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Vectren Corporation v. Zhichao Yang (杨智超)
Case No. D2020-2250
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Vectren Corporation, United States of America, represented by Fibbe Lightner, LLP, United States of America.
The Respondent is Zhichao Yang (杨智超), China.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <vaectren.com> and <vecrten.com> (the “Domain Names”) are registered with Alibaba Cloud Computing (Beijing) Co., Ltd. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed in English with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 27, 2020. On August 27, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Names. On August 28, 2020, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Domain Names which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on August 28, 2020 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 in English on August 31, 2020.
On August 28, 2020, the Center sent a communication to the Parties, in English and Chinese, regarding the language of the proceeding. On August 31, 2020, the Complainant confirmed its request that English be the language of the proceeding. The Respondent did not comment.
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 in English and Chinese of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on September 7, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was September 27, 2020. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on September 28, 2020.
The Center appointed Linda Chang as the sole panelist in this matter on October 15, 2020. 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 an energy company headquartered in the United States of America and distributes natural gas for homes, factories and businesses.
The Complainant owns a number of trademark registrations in the United States of America including trademark VECTREN registration No. 2532627 registered on January 22, 2002 in Class 4, No. 2432276 registered on February 27, 2001 in Class 39, and No. 2509565 registered on November 20, 2001 in Class 40.
The Domain Names were registered on July 28, 2020. Each is associated with a parking page containing various pay-per-click links.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Domain Names are comprised solely of a typographical misspelling of its VECTREN trademark and thus confusingly similar to the VECTREN trademark.
The Complainant further contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names as it has not authorized, licensed or permitted the Respondent to use the VECTREN trademark. As the websites associated with the Domain Names are comprised solely of pay-per-click links, the Respondent offers no bona fide goods or services through the Domain Names and operates no bona fide business.
The Complainant finally contends that the Domain Names were registered and are being used in bad faith. The Complainant emphasizes that the Respondent targeted on the Complainant by registering typographical misspellings of its VECTREN trademark and intentionally attempted to divert Internet users for commercial gain.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Language of the Proceedings
Though the Registrar has confirmed that the registration agreement is in Chinese, the Complainant requested for English to be the language of the proceedings. Its arguments include that the Respondent is familiar with the English language as the Domain Names are typographical misspellings from the common English spelling and used for English websites.
Paragraph 11(a) of the Rules allows the Panel to determine the language of the proceedings by taking into account all relevant circumstances. It is established practice to take paragraphs 10(b) and 10(c) of the Rules into consideration for the purpose of determining the language of the proceedings to ensure that the parties are treated with equality and that each of them is given a fair opportunity to present its case.
The Panel notices that though the Respondent is located in China, the Domain Names are resolving to websites displaying contents in English. The Panel further notices that the Respondent has been given a fair opportunity to object to the use of English as the language of the proceedings but did not do so.
Taking into account all relevant circumstances, the Panel views that using English as the language of the proceedings would not be prejudicial to the Respondent in its ability to articulate the arguments for the case, and determines the language of the proceedings shall be English and the decision will be rendered in English.
B. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has registered trademark rights in VECTREN.
The Domain Names registered by the Respondent are closely resembling the Complainant’s VECTREN trademark and differ from the VECTREN trademark only by adding the letter “a” before the first “e” of the VECTREN trademark in the Domain Name <vaectren.com>, and interchanging the letters “t” with “r” in the Domain Name <vecrten.com>. The Panel views that the Domain Names are a misspelling of the Complainant’s VECTREN trademark and typical examples of typosquatting.
It is widely acknowledged in previous WIPO UDRP decisions that “.com” as being the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) is generally irrelevant for the purpose of comparison between a trademark and a domain name. Each of the Domain Names consists of an obvious misspelling of the VECTREN trademark and should be considered to be confusingly similar to the VECTREN trademark for purposes of the first element.
The Panel therefore finds that the Domain Names are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark. Accordingly, the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
C. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel finds that there is no bona fide explanation for the Respondent’s choice of the Domain Names in that the Respondent would not have miss-spelt the Domain Names if it is intending to make bona fide use of the Complainant’s trademark.
The associated websites at the Domain Names are solely for the purpose of diverting Internet users who have mistyped the Complainant’s trademark VECTREN. Using the Domain Names in this manner does not create any legitimate interests on the Respondent nor represent a bona fide offering of goods or services or any legitimate noncommerical or fair use.
The Panel further finds that the Respondent’s use of the Domain Names as parking page comprising pay-per-click links does not represent a bona fide offering where some links compete with the Complainant.
The Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has made a prima facie case to demonstrate that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Names. Accordingly, the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel holds that the Domain Names are typical examples of typosquatting and typosquatting per se is sufficient to establish registration and use in bad faith under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy. The Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant’s VECTREN trademark when registering its typographical variants as domain name. The misspelling signals the Respondent’s intention to target on the Complainant and confuse Internet users looking for the Complainant online.
The Respondent is using typographical variants of the Complainant’s trademark to misdirect Internet users to websites of third parties or even competitors of the Complainant. The use of the Domain Names by the Respondent to host pay-per-click links is sufficient on its own for a finding of registration and use in bad faith, regardless of whether it was directly placed by the Respondent or not. In the absence of explanation for using a name confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark and using it to host advertising links associated with the Complainant’s business including links to competitors of the Complainant, the Panel finds that the Respondent purposefully intends to attract Internet users to its own websites with a view for commercial gains.
The Panel therefore finds that the Domain Names have been registered and are being used in bad faith and that paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy is satisfied.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Names <vaectren.com> and <vecrten.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: October 29, 2020