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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Expedia, Inc. v. Seocho
Case No. D2002-0288
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Expedia, Inc., a Washington corporation with its principal place of business in Bellevue, Washington, United States of America.
According to the WHOIS database maintained by BulkRegister.com, the Respondent is Seocho located at 1336-2 Seocho-2dong, Seocho-ku, Seoul, Republic of Korea 137-072, although the administrative and technical contacts are identified as Vladimir Snezko of Host for You, Post box 97, Moscow, Russian Federation 111538.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The domain name in dispute is <expecia.com> ("the Domain Name"). The Registrar is BulkRegister.com.
3. Procedural History
The Complainant previously sought to Complain about the Domain Name by way of a supplemental filing to its Complaint against the same Respondent in respect of the domain name <expeadia.com> in WIPO Case No. D2001-1088. That request was refused by the Panel in its decision of November 4, 2001.
The present Complaint was received by the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center ("the Center") by email on March 27, 2002, and hardcopy on April 3, 2002. The Registrar confirmed by email of April 1, 2002, that it had received a copy of the Complaint, that the Domain Name was registered with it, that the Respondent was the current Registrant, that the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("the Policy") applied and that the Registration Agreement was in English and included a submission to the jurisdiction of the courts of Maryland.
An amendment to the Complaint, made at the Center’s request to correct an obvious omission, was received by the Center by email on April 11, 2002, and hardcopy on April 15, 2002. The Center gave Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding on April 17, 2002. The Notification was sent by email to <mailto:email@example.com> and to the Administrative and Technical Contact for the Domain Name at the address given in the Registrar’s Whois database. No other email address and no fax numbers were provided in the Whois database. The Complaint was also sent by courier to the Respondent at the address given in the Whois database. All of these notifications were returned as undeliverable. However, the Panel is satisfied that reasonably available means were employed to achieve actual notice to the Respondent in accordance with §2(a) of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("the Rules").
Having reviewed the file, the Panel concludes that the Complaint complied with applicable formal requirements and was properly notified to the Respondent.
No Response having been received from the Respondent, the Center sent the Notification of Respondent Default on May 8, 2002. The sole panelist, Jonathan Turner, submitted a Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence and was duly appointed on May 28, 2002. In accordance with paragraph 15 of the Rules, the Panel was required to forward its decision to the Center by June 11, 2002.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a well-known provider of travel agency services via the internet through its website of http://www.expedia.com. It has registered "Expedia" and "Expedia.com" as trade marks in the US in respect of various goods and services.
At the time of the Complaint and of this Decision, the Domain Name is pointed to the website of onetravel.com, which appears to be another provider of travel agency services via the internet.
The Respondent had also registered the domain name <expeadia.com> which was pointed to a website of <priceline.com>, another internet travel agency. <priceline.com> disabled the link after a complaint by the Complainant, and that domain name was then redirected to onetravel.com. A Complaint in relation to that domain name under the Policy was upheld in decision of WIPO Case No. D2001-1088, pursuant to which that domain name was transferred to the Complainant.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to its trade marks "Expedia" and "Expedia.com", that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name, and that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith, in particular as specified in §§4(b)(ii) and (iv) of the Policy.
The Complainant notes that the SLD of the Domain Name is identical to its name and mark apart from the letter "c" which is adjacent on a standard keyboard to the letter "d" which it replaces. The Complainant characterizes the Respondent’s conduct as "typosquatting" and alleges that internet users may type the Domain Name by mistake instead of the Complainant’s domain name. Since the Domain Name points to a site of a competitor of the Complainant, onetravel.com, the Complainant contends that internet users are liable to be confused as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of that site.
The Respondent has not made any submissions.
6. Discussion and Findings
In accordance with paragraph 4 of the Policy, the Complainant must prove (i) that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; (ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and (iii) that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
As to the first requirement, the SLD of the Domain Name is identical to the Complainant’s registered trade marks "Expedia" and "Expedia.com" apart from the substitution of "d" for "c", adjacent letters on a standard keyboard. The risk of mistyping is relevant in relation to Domain Names, which are expected to be typed, often by inexpert typists, in the same way that mishearing is relevant in relation to names which are expected to be used orally. The Panel considers that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trade marks.
As to the second requirement, the Domain Name bears no relation to the name of the Respondent or to the websites to which it has been directed. The Panel is satisfied that the Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in respect of the Domain Name.
As to the third requirement, the Panel is not persuaded by the Complainant’s contention that the Respondent registered the Domain Name in order to prevent the Complainant from reflecting its mark in a corresponding domain name. Businesses can hardly be expected to register every misspelling of their marks in corresponding domain names. Nor is there any basis for supposing that the Respondent expects to gain commercially from attracting internet users to the website of onetravel.com, with which it appears to have no commercial connection, except indirectly by provoking the Complainant.
However, the pointing of the Domain Name and a similar domain name to websites of undertakings competing with the Complainant was bound to disrupt the Complainant’s business, since customers and potential customers seeking the Complainant’s website who mistyped the Complainant’s domain name would be directed to the Complainant’s competitors. The Panel considers that a significant number of such persons would assume that the competitor was part of or connected with the Complainant; and even to the extent that such persons would not be misled, the diversion would still disrupt the Complainant’s business, since the diverted customers might use the competitor’s services instead. Furthermore, the Complainant’s name and operation are so well-known in relation to internet travel agency services that it can be inferred that the Respondent intended this disruption to occur.
The Panel is therefore satisfied that the domain name was registered for the purpose of disrupting the Complainant’s business and probably with the aim of selling it to the Complainant or a competitor of the Complainant for valuable consideration. The Panel agrees with the conclusions of the Panels in WIPO Case No. D2001-1088 <expeadia.com>, WIPO Case No. D2001-1199 <wwwpfizer.com>, and WIPO Case No. D2001-1494 <nsadaq.com> and <nasdack.com>, all concerning the same Respondent. The Panel concludes that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith of the kinds identified at (i) and (iii) of the non-exhaustive list in §4(b) of the Policy, or similar thereto.
The Panel decides that the Domain Name <expecia.com> should be transferred to the Complainant, Expedia, Inc., of 13810 SE Eastgate Way, Suite 400, Bellevue, Washington, United States of America.
Dated: June 11, 2002