WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
American Airlines, Inc. v. Registration Private, Domains By Proxy LLC / Carolina Rodrigues, Fundacion Comercio Electronico
Case No. D2021-3182
1. The Parties
The Complainant is American Airlines, Inc., United States of America (“United States”), represented by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, United States.
The Respondent is Registration Private, Domains By Proxy LLC, United States, / Carolina Rodrigues, Fundacion Comercio Electronico, Panama.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <aavacatiins.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 September 27, 2021. On September 27, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 28, 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 September 29, 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 October 3, 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 October 12, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 1, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 3, 2021.
The Center appointed Steven A. Maier as the sole panelist in this matter on November 12, 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 a corporation headquartered in Texas, United States, and is a leading air carrier.
The Complainant is the owner of numerous registrations for the trademark AA in multiple territories around the world. Those registrations include, for example, United States trademark registration number 514292 for the word mark AA, registered on August 23, 1949, for air transport services in International Class 39 and Panama trademark registration number 184882-01 for a word and design mark AA together with a “scissor eagle” design, registered on August 1, 2003.
The Complainant has operated a website at “www.aa.com” since 1989. It also operates a dedicated website at “www.aavacations.com” offering all inclusive vacation packages and other travel services.
The disputed domain name was registered on July 20, 2021. It has resolved to what appears to be a pay-per-click (“PPC”) website offering links to a variety of services.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant states that it is the world’s largest air carrier and serves over 350 destinations in over 50 countries with over 7,000 daily flights. It submits that its trademarks and brands, including AA and AMERICAN AIRLINES have been continuously used in commerce for many decades in conjunction with billions of dollars of investment. The Complainant adds that it is highly active on social media with over 2.5 million followers on Facebook. The Complainant contends that its marks have gained the status of household names accordingly.
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name <aavacatiins.com> is confusingly similar to its AA trademark. It states that it incorporates that trademark in full, combined only with the term “vacatiins”, which is an obvious misspelling of the generic word “vacations”, which describes services offered by the Complainant. The Complainant contends that the substitution of the letter second letter “i” in the disputed domain name for the letter “o” in the word “vacations” is an obvious case of “typosquatting” and notes that the two letters are next to one another on a standard QWERTY keyboard.
The Complainant submits that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. It states that it has never licensed or authorized the Respondent to use its AA trademark, that the Respondent has not been known by that name and that the Respondent is making neither bona fide commercial use nor legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name. The Complainant contends, in particular, that the use of a misleading domain name for the purpose of a PPC website cannot constitute a bona fide commercial activity.
The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Complainant contends that it is inconceivable that the Respondent was unaware of its AA trademark when it registered the disputed domain name and that, by registering a domain name similar to a well-known trademark in order to divert traffic to a PPC website, the Respondent is engaging in “opportunistic bad faith”.
The Complainant also provides evidence that the Respondent has attempted to sell the disputed domain name for the sum of USD 999, being a sum which the Complainant says is in excess of the Respondent’s actual costs associated with the disputed domain name.
Further, the Complainant submits that the Respondent has configured mail servers in connection with the disputed domain name, which raises the possibility of use of the disputed domain name for “phishing” or other fraudulent activities.
Finally, the Complainant submits that the Respondent, Carolina Rodrigues, Fundacion Comercio Electronico, has been the respondent in a total of 169 successful WIPO proceedings under the UDRP and has been found to have engaged in a pattern of bad-faith registration of domain names which correspond to famous and well-known third party trademarks. The Complainant contends that the Panel should reach a similar conclusion in the present case.
The Complainant exhibits a “cease and desist” letter which it sent to the Respondent in September 2021 and states that no reply was ever received from the Respondent.
The Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain name.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
In order to succeed in the Complaint, the Complainant is required to show that all three of the elements set out under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are present. Those elements are that:
(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 has established that it is the owner of registrations for the trademark AA. The disputed domain name comprises that trademark together with the term “vacatiins”, which in the view of the Panel can only reasonably be interpreted as a misspelling of the dictionary word “vacations”. The inclusion of that term does not prevent the Complainant’s trademark from being recognizable within the disputed domain name and the Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
In the view of the Panel, the Complainant’s submissions set out above give rise to a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. However, the Respondent has not filed a Response in this proceeding and has not submitted any explanation for its registration and use of the disputed domain name, or evidence of rights or legitimate interests on its part in the disputed domain name, whether in the circumstances contemplated by paragraph 4(c) of the Policy or otherwise. There being no other evidence of rights or legitimate interests on the part of the Respondent, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
While the Complainant has put forward a number of submissions in connection with this element, this does not appear to the Panel to be case in which the can be any serious doubt concerning the Respondent’s bad faith. The Panel finds that the Complainant’s trademark AA is internationally widely known and that the Complainant operates a dedicated website for vacations at “www.aavacations.com”. The Respondent has attempted no explanation for the choice of the disputed domain name, which, in the view of the Panel, can only reasonably be interpreted as an obvious case of “typosquatting” aimed at the Complainant’s website. The Panel finds, in particular, that the disputed domain name was registered and has been used with the purpose of diverting Internet users intending to access the Complainant’s website to a website comprising PPC links from which the Respondent is likely to receive remuneration. The Panel finds therefore that, by using the disputed domain name, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of its website or of a product or service on its website (paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy).
While the observations above are determinative of this element, the Panel further accepts that this appears to be the latest in long line of bad-faith registrations on the part of the Respondent (see e.g. Sidley Austin LLP v. Withheld for Privacy ehf / Carolina Rodrigues, Fundacion Comercio Electronico, WIPO Case No. D2021-2366, and LEGO Juris A/S v. Carolina Rodrigues, Fundacion Comercio Electronico, WIPO Case No. D2021-1813, among others), which further reinforces the overall impression of bad faith in this case: see e.g. section 3.1.2 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).
The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used 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, <aavacatiins.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Steven A. Maier
Date: November 24, 2021