Direct Line Insurance plc v. Owen Webster
Claim Number: FA0812001237971
Complainant is Direct Line Insurance plc (“Complainant”), represented by James
A. Thomas, of Troutman Sanders LLP,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <directine.com>, registered with Fabulous.com Pty Ltd.
The undersigned certifies that he or she has acted independently and impartially and to the best of his or her knowledge has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding.
John J. Upchurch as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on December 10, 2008; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on December 11, 2008.
On December 10, 2008, Fabulous.com Pty Ltd. confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <directine.com> domain name is registered with Fabulous.com Pty Ltd. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Fabulous.com Pty Ltd. has verified that Respondent is bound by the Fabulous.com Pty Ltd. registration agreement and has thereby agreed to resolve domain-name disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Policy").
On December 12, 2008, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of January 1, 2009 by which Respondent could file a response to the Complaint, was transmitted to Respondent via e-mail, post and fax, to all entities and persons listed on Respondent's registration as technical, administrative and billing contacts, and to firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.
Having received no response from Respondent, the National Arbitration Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
On January 6, 2009, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed John J. Upchurch as Panelist.
Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the "Panel") finds that the National Arbitration Forum has discharged its responsibility under Paragraph 2(a) of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Rules") "to employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice to Respondent." Therefore, the Panel may issue its decision based on the documents submitted and in accordance with the ICANN Policy, ICANN Rules, the National Arbitration Forum's Supplemental Rules and any rules and principles of law that the Panel deems applicable, without the benefit of any response from Respondent.
Complainant requests that the domain name be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.
A. Complainant makes the following assertions:
1. Respondent’s <directine.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s DIRECT LINE mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <directine.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <directine.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Direct Line Insurance plc, offers a broad range of financial and insurance products and services to over ten million customers. Complainant, founded in 1985, holds numerous registrations of its DIRECT LINE mark with various governmental authorities including the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (“UKIPO”) (Reg. No. 1,392,344 issued September 6, 1991).
Respondent registered the <directine.com> domain name on July 30, 2005. The disputed domain name resolves to a website that displays several hyperlinks to various third-party websites, some of which are in direct competition with Complainant.
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs this Panel to "decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable."
In view of Respondent's failure to submit a response, the Panel shall decide this administrative proceeding on the basis of Complainant's undisputed representations pursuant to paragraphs 5(e), 14(a) and 15(a) of the Rules and draw such inferences it considers appropriate pursuant to paragraph 14(b) of the Rules. The Panel is entitled to accept all reasonable allegations and inferences set forth in the Complaint as true unless the evidence is clearly contradictory. See Vertical Solutions Mgmt., Inc. v. webnet-marketing, inc., FA 95095 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 31, 2000) (holding that the respondent’s failure to respond allows all reasonable inferences of fact in the allegations of the complaint to be deemed true); see also Talk City, Inc. v. Robertson, D2000-0009 (WIPO Feb. 29, 2000) (“In the absence of a response, it is appropriate to accept as true all allegations of the Complaint.”).
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred:
(1) the domain name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(2) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Panel finds that Complainant has sufficiently established rights in its DIRECT LINE mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) because it holds a registration of the mark with the UKIPO. See Royal Bank of Scot. Group plc & Nat. Westminster Bank plc v. Soloviov, FA 787983 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 3, 2006) (“Complainant’s trademark registrations for the NATWEST mark with the United Kingdom Patent Office . . . establish Complainant’s rights in the mark pursuant to Policy ¶4(a)(i).”); see also Janus Int’l Holding Co. v. Rademacher, D2002-0201 (WIPO Mar. 5, 2002) ("Panel decisions have held that registration of a mark is prima facie evidence of validity, which creates a rebuttable presumption that the mark is inherently distinctive.").
domain name contains a misspelling of Complainant’s mark (i.e., the “l” is
deleted from Complainant’s mark) and merely adds the generic top-level domain
(“gTLD”) “.com.” The Panel finds that
the misspelling of Complainant’s mark and the addition of the gTLD do not
distinguish the disputed domain name from Complainant’s mark and, accordingly,
finds that Respondent’s <directine.com>
domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s DIRECT LINE mark under
Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Try Harder &
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
At the outset, Complainant must make a prima facie showing that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the <directine.com> domain name. The burden then shifts to Respondent and Respondent must establish that it has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel finds that Complainant has sufficiently made its prima facie showing under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). See Compagnie Generale des Matieres Nucleaires v. Greenpeace Int’l, D2001-0376 (WIPO May 14, 2001) (“Proving that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name requires the Complainant to prove a negative. For the purposes of this sub paragraph, however, it is sufficient for the Complainant to show a prima facie case and the burden of proof is then shifted on to the shoulders of Respondent. In those circumstances, the common approach is for respondents to seek to bring themselves within one of the examples of paragraph 4(c) or put forward some other reason why they can fairly be said to have a relevant right or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name in question.”); see also G.D. Searle v. Martin Mktg., FA 118277 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 1, 2002) (“Because Complainant’s Submission constitutes a prima facie case under the Policy, the burden effectively shifts to Respondent. Respondent’s failure to respond means that Respondent has not presented any circumstances that would promote its rights or legitimate interests in the subject domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).”).
Furthermore, because Respondent has failed to respond to Complainant’s allegations, the Panel may presume that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests. However, the Panel will still analyze the record under Policy ¶ 4(c). See Am. Express Co. v. Fang Suhendro, FA 129120 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 30, 2002) (“[B]ased on Respondent's failure to respond, it is presumed that Respondent lacks all rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.”); see also Talk City, Inc. v. Robertson, D2000-0009 (WIPO Feb. 29, 2000) (“[Rule 14(b)] expressly provide[s] that the Panel ‘shall draw such inferences’ from the Respondent’s failure to comply with the rules ‘as it considers appropriate.”).
Respondent’s <directine.com> domain name resolves to a website containing hyperlinks to third-party websites, some of which are in direct competition with Complainant. Accordingly, the Panel infers that Respondent receives click-through fees for these hyperlinks. Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent diverts Internet users to its website for a fee, and thus, this diversion is not a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See Bank of Am. Corp. v. Nw. Free Cmty. Access, FA 180704 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 30, 2003) (“Respondent's demonstrated intent to divert Internet users seeking Complainant's website to a website of Respondent and for Respondent's benefit is not a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) and it is not a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii).”); see also St. Lawrence Univ. v. Nextnet Tech, FA 881234 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 21, 2007) (holding that using an identical or confusingly similar domain name to earn click-through fees via sponsored links to a complainant’s competitors does not represent a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii)).
In addition, Respondent is listed in the WHOIS information as “Owen Webster” which does not indicate that it is commonly known by the <directine.com> domain name. Respondent has not offered any evidence to indicate otherwise. The Panel finds that Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Tercent Inc. v. Lee Yi, FA 139720 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 10, 2003) (stating “nothing in Respondent’s WHOIS information implies that Respondent is ‘commonly known by’ the disputed domain name” as one factor in determining that Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii) does not apply); see also Am. W. Airlines, Inc. v. Paik, FA 206396 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 22, 2003) (“Respondent has registered the domain name under the name ‘Ilyoup Paik a/k/a David Sanders.’ Given the WHOIS domain name registration information, Respondent is not commonly known by the [<awvacations.com>] domain name.”).
Finally, Respondent’s <directine.com> domain name is a common misspelling of Complainant’s DIRECT LINE mark. Thus, the Panel finds that this constitutes typosquatting and is additional evidence that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). See IndyMac Bank F.S.B. v. Ebeyer, FA 175292 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 19, 2003) (finding that the respondent lacked rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain names because it “engaged in the practice of typosquatting by taking advantage of Internet users who attempt to access Complainant's <indymac.com> website but mistakenly misspell Complainant's mark by typing the letter ‘x’ instead of the letter ‘c’”); see also LTD Commodities LLC v. Party Night, Inc., FA 165155 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 14, 2003) (finding that the <ltdcommadities.com>, <ltdcommmodities.com>, and <ltdcommodaties.com> domain names were intentional misspellings of Complainant's LTD COMMODITIES mark and this “‘typosquatting’ is evidence that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names”).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Respondent’s confusingly similar <directine.com> domain name resolves to a website that displays hyperlinks to third-party websites, some of which are in direct competition with Complainant. The Panel finds that this redirection of Internet users disrupts Complainant’s business and is evidence of bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See Disney Enters., Inc. v. Noel, FA 198805 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 11, 2003) (“Respondent registered a domain name confusingly similar to Complainant's mark to divert Internet users to a competitor's website. It is a reasonable inference that Respondent's purpose of registration and use was to either disrupt or create confusion for Complainant's business in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶¶ 4(b)(iii) [and] (iv).”); see also S. Exposure v. S. Exposure, Inc., FA 94864 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 18, 2000) (finding the respondent acted in bad faith by attracting Internet users to a website that competes with the complainant’s business).
is using the confusingly similar <directine.com> domain name and the
aforementioned hyperlinks for commercial gain.
The Panel finds that this creates a likelihood of confusion as to
Complainant’s affiliation with the disputed domain name and is evidence of bad
faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv).
Finally, Respondent benefits by collecting fees from the use of the typosquatted confusingly similar <directine.com> domain name, which is a common misspelling of Complainant’s DIRECT LINE mark. The Panel finds Respondent’s engagement in typosquatting itself constitutes evidence of bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii). See Nat’l Ass’n of Prof’l Baseball League, Inc. v. Zuccarini, D2002-1011 (WIPO Jan. 21, 2003) (“Typosquatting … is the intentional misspelling of words with [the] intent to intercept and siphon off traffic from its intended destination, by preying on Internauts who make common typing errors. Typosquatting is inherently parasitic and of itself evidence of bad faith.”); see also Sports Auth. Mich., Inc. v. Internet Hosting, FA 124516 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 4, 2002) (“Redirecting Internet users attempting to reach a complainant’s website in order to gain a profit off of a complainant is one example of bad faith use and registration under the Policy.”).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii) has been satisfied.
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <directine.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
John J. Upchurch, Panelist
Dated: January 19, 2008
National Arbitration Forum