WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Hostelworld.com Limited v. Registration Private, Domain by Proxy, LLC / Carolina Rodrigues, Fundacion Comercio Electronico
Case No. D2021-2281
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Hostelworld.com Limited, Ireland, represented by Tomkins & Co, Ireland.
The Respondent is Registration Private, Domain by Proxy, LLC, United States of America (“United States”) / Carolina Rodrigues, Fundacion Comercio Electronico, Panama.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The Disputed Domain Name <hostelworlr.com> is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 14, 2021. On July 14, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Name. On July 20, 2021, 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 July 21, 2021, 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 amended Complaint on July 26, 2021.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended 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 July 29, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was August 18, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on August 19, 2021.
The Center appointed Pablo A. Palazzi as the sole panelist in this matter on August 30, 2021. 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 Irish company that operates a hostel booking platform launched in 1999.
The Complainant is the owner of trademarks HOSTELWORLD and HOSTELWORLD.COM (collectively, the “trademark”) in various jurisdictions, among others:
- HOSTELWORLD (Design) European Union (“EU”) Trademark Registration No. 014096697, registered on October 5, 2016;
- HOSTELWORLD.COM Australian Trademark Registration No. 1398358 registered on August 11, 2011; and
- HOSTELWORLD.COM United States Trademark Registration No. 4305641 registered on March 19, 2013.
In addition, the Complainant is the owner of the domain name <hostelworld.com>, which was registered on May 12, 1999.
The Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Name <hostelworlr.com> on June 9, 2021. The Disputed Domain Name resolves to a landing page at which there are links to other pages.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant’s contentions can be summarized as follows:
Identical or confusingly similar
The Complainant submits that the Disputed Domain Name incorporates the entirety of the Complainant’s trademarks (HOSTELWORLD.COM and HOSTELWORLD). The only difference between the Complainant’s trademarks and the Disputed Domain Name is the replacement of the final letter “d” by a letter “r” in the Disputed Domain Name, which is insufficient to differentiate the Disputed Domain Name from the Complainant’s trademark.
Rights or legitimate interest
The Complainant submits that the Respondent has never requested nor has received authorization to use the Complainant’s trademark. The Complainant further states that the Respondent is not commonly known by the Disputed Domain Name. In addition, the Respondent does not hold any proprietary rights in or to any registered trademark for “hostelworlr.com”.
Registration and use in bad faith
The Complainant states that the Respondent registered and is using the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith.
The Complainant further alleges that its trademark has both inherent distinctiveness and through extensive use worldwide for 20 years. Having into consideration that the Disputed Domain Name resolves to a landing page that contains links to other webpages, which offers services identical or similar to those of the Complainant, there will undoubtedly be confusion among Internet users and damage to the business activities of the Complainant.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists the three elements, which the Complainant must satisfy with respect to the Disputed Domain Name in this case:
(i) The Disputed Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(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.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant is the owner of the HOSTELWORLD.COM and HOSTELWORLD trademarks as evidenced by its trademark registrations. Based on the evidence submitted, the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Name <hostelworlr.com> is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s HOSTELWORLD.COM and HOSTELWORLD trademarks. The replacement of the letter “d” by a letter “r” in the “world” term of the trademark represents a misspelling that does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the Disputed Domain Name and the Complainant’s trademark.
Moreover, the misspelling is hardly noticeable and results in a very minor modification of the Complainant’s trademark.
In this regard, this Panel understand that this is a clear example of typosquatting. As section 1.9 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) states:
“A domain name which consists of a common, obvious, or intentional misspelling of a trademark is considered by panels to be confusingly similar to the relevant mark for purposes of the first element.
Examples of such typos include (i) adjacent keyboard letters, (ii) substitution of similar-appearing characters (e.g., upper vs lower-case letters or numbers used to look like letters), (iii) the use of different letters that appear similar in different fonts, (iv) the use of non-Latin internationalized or accented characters, (v) the inversion of letters and numbers, or (vi) the addition or interspersion of other terms or numbers.”
Therefore, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the first requirement of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides a list of circumstances any of which is sufficient to demonstrate that the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name:
(i) Before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) You (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) You are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service at issue.
There is no evidence of the existence of any of those rights or legitimate interests. The Complainant has not authorized, licensed, or permitted the Respondent to register or use the Disputed Domain Name or to use the HOSTELWORLD.COM and HOSTELWORLD trademarks in the Disputed Domain Name. The Complainant has prior rights over the HOSTELWORLD.COM and HOSTELWORLD trademarks, which precede the Respondent’s registration of the Disputed Domain Name.
The Respondent has failed to show that it has acquired any rights with respect to the Disputed Domain Name. Moreover, it had the opportunity to demonstrate its rights or legitimate interests, but it did not reply to the Complainant’s contention.
As such, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the second requirement of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy provides that the Complainant must establish that the Respondent registered and subsequently used the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith.
The Disputed Domain Name was registered on June 9, 2021, while the Complainant’s trademark was registered as early as 2006.
The fact that the Disputed Domain Name is nearly identical to the Complainant’s HOSTELWORLD.COM and HOSTELWORLD trademarks, having a similar visual and phonetic appearance, and the registration of the Disputed Domain Name postdates the Complainant’s registration of its trademark, leads the Panel to find that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s HOSTELWORLD.COM and HOSTELWORLD trademark when registering the Disputed Domain Name. Thus, the Panel concludes the Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith.
Furthermore, it is important to highlight that the present case is a typo-squatting case, being this a strong evidence of the Respondent’s bad faith.
In the case at hand, in view of the Respondent’s registration of the Disputed Domain Name that confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark, which resolves to a pay-per-click website, the Respondent’s concealing of its identity behind a privacy service, and the absence of any documented rights or legitimate interests of the Respondent in the Disputed Domain Names and its failure to respond to the Complaint, affirms the bad faith.
For that reason, the Panel concludes that this conduct qualifies as bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy in that the Respondent’s use of the Disputed Domain Name attempts to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s HOSTELWORLD.COM and HOSTELWORLD trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s website.
Therefore, taking all the circumstances into account and for all the above reasons, the Panel concludes that the Respondent has registered and used the Disputed Domain Name 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, <hostelworlr.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Pablo A. Palazzi
Date: September 13, 2021