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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Citigroup Inc., Citicorp v. Phayze Inc.
Case No. D2003-0430
1. The Parties
The Complainants are Citigroup Inc. and Citicorp, New York United States of
America represented by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP of United
States of America.
The Respondent is Phayze Inc., Paris, France.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <citiback.com> is registered with CSL Computer
Service Langenbach GmbH dba Joker.com.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center")
on June 4, 2003. On June 5, 2003, the Center transmitted by email to CSL Computer
Service Langenbach GmbH dba Joker.com a request for registrar verification in
connection with the domain name at issue. On June 5, 2003, CSL Computer
Service Langenbach GmbH dba Joker.com transmitted by email to the Center its
verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant
and providing the contact details for the administrative, billing, and technical
contact. In response to a notification by the Center that the Complaint was
administratively deficient, the Complainants filed an amendment to the Complaint
on June 12, 2003 via email, and on June 17, 2003, in hardcopy. 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"), 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(a) and 4(a), the Center formally
notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on June
19, 2003. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response
was July 9, 2003. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the
Center notified the Respondent’s default on July 10, 2003.
The Center appointed Mr. Peter G. Nitter as the sole panelist in this matter
on July 24, 2003. 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, Citigroup, is the world-renowned financial services company
that, through its wholly owned subsidiaries Citicorp and/or Citibank, N.A.,
owns an extensive family of famous CITI and CITI-related service marks and trademarks
(the "CITI Marks"), among the most well-known of which are the names and marks
CITI (the "CITI Mark") and CITIBANK (the "CITIBANK Mark"). The CITI Mark, U.S.
Reg. No. 1,181,467, was registered on December 8, 1981, for financial services
including consumer and commercial lending, credit card services, real estate
services, investment and advisory services and providing venture capital to
others. The CITIBANK Mark, U.S. Reg. No. 691,815, was first registered on January
19, 1960, for banking services.
Complainants’ trademarks prefixed with CITI, including the above-mentioned
marks, have unquestionably been famous in more than two decades. From 1998 through
2002, the Complainants have spent nearly $7 billion advertising its family of
CITI Marks throughout the world. In 2002 alone, the Complainants generated over
$71.3 billion in net revenues using its CITI family of marks, including the
CITIBANK Marks, in connection with its financial and related services.
The Complainants have an active presence worldwide, and provides a wide variety
of services worldwide, with over 1,400 branches and 3,800 ATMs in approximately
100 countries. Complainants also operate two branches in or around Paris, France,
where Respondent purportedly resides. Complainants offer French individual customers
and corporate customers banking, investment, insurance, credit card, and other
Complainants own approximately 800 domain name registrations featuring the
famous family of CITI Marks, including the CITIBANK Mark.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Domain Name is confusingly similar to Complainants’ marks.
Respondent’s Domain Name fully incorporates Complainants’ famous CITI Mark,
is confusingly similar to Complainants’ CITI and CITIBANK Marks, and mimics
Complainants’ CITIBANK Domain Names. Indeed, the Domain Name is an obvious and
minor alteration of Complainants’ famous CITIBANK mark and domain names in that
it replaces one letter for another – namely the letter "c" for the letter "n."
Furthermore, there is evidence of actual confusion caused by Respondent’s Domain
Panels routinely find confusing similarity where a domain name is merely the
combination of a famous and distinctive mark, such as the CITI mark, with a
generic word, such as "back".
Respondent has engaged in "typosquatting" by registering a minor and phonetically
similar misspelling of Complainants’ CITIBANK Mark and <citibank.com>
domain name, a practice which inevitably results (as it is intended to) in confusing
Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in the Domain Name.
Complainants have found no evidence that Respondent has ever been commonly
known by "Citiback," nor that Respondent operates a bona fide business under
the Domain Name. Indeed, as noted, Respondent’s web site simply links to a pornographic
web site that is not known as or related to the name "Citiback".
Upon information and belief, Respondent has never used any trademark or service
mark similar to the Domain Name by which it may have come to be known, has not
made use of the Domain Name in connection with any legitimate business, and
is not making a protected non-commercial use of the Domain Name.
Respondent’s Domain Name is nearly identical and is confusingly similar to
the Complainants’ CITI and/or CITIBANK Marks. In addition, Respondent was undoubtedly
aware of the CITI and CITIBANK Marks prior to registration of the Domain Name,
as they are famous. Because Respondent had constructive notice of the CITI and
CITIBANK Marks when he registered a domain name that was nearly identical and
confusingly similar to those marks, Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest
in the Domain Name.
Because the Domain Name and the Complainants’ CITI and CITIBANK Marks are nearly
identical and are confusingly similar, individuals confronting Respondent’s
Domain Name are likely to be confused, and to believe that Respondent, its activities,
and its web site are connected or affiliated with, sponsored or endorsed by,
or emanate from Complainants.
The fact that Respondent has been involved in, and lost, prior domain name
disputes, further indicates that Respondent has no legitimate rights in the
Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith.
The registration and use in bad faith is evidenced by (i) Respondent’s notice
of Complainants’ ownership and the fame of its CITI and CITIBANK Marks and therefore,
by registering the confusingly similar Domain Name, intention to capitalize
upon any confusion with Complainants’ marks; (ii) Respondent’s "www.citiback.com"
web site connects to web pages that compete with Complainants’ business; (iii)
Respondent has failed to reply to Complainants’ attempted communications; (iv)
Respondent has provided false contact information; (v) Respondent’s use violates
specific representations made by Respondent in the Registrar’s Registration
Agreement; and (vi) Respondent has evidenced a pattern of bad faith registration
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainants’ contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel agrees with Complainants’ assertions that Respondent has registered
a domain name that mimics Complainants’ domain name, and that it is an obvious
and minor alteration of Complainants’ famous CITIBANK mark and domain names,
which leads the domain name at issue to be confusingly similar with Complainants’
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Pursuant to the Policy, para 4(a)(ii) the second element of a claim of abusive
domain name registration is that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate
interests in respect of the domain name.
There is no evidence on the record of this proceeding to suggest that Respondent
has been commonly known by the disputed domain name, or that Respondent has
made noncommercial or fair use of the name. As Complainants’ trademarks are
famous, Respondent has undoubtedly been familiar with these when registering
its domain name that was nearly identical and confusingly similar to Complainants’
Respondent has furthermore been involved in, and lost, prior domain name disputes,
which is a further indication of lack of rights or legitimate interests in the
domain name at issue.
According to the above, the Panel finds that Complainants have established
the second element necessary to prevail on its claim that Respondent has engaged
in abusive domain name registration.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel has considered Complainants’ assertions and evidence with regard
to the Respondent’s registration and use of the domain name in bad faith. By
not submitting a response, Respondent has failed to invoke any circumstances
that could demonstrate that it did not register and use the domain name at issue
in bad faith.
Complainants have put forward evidence that they has registered and used a
wide range of CITI prefixed trademarks, hereunder the trademark CITIBANK, to
such an extent that these are to be regarded as famous. Given the fame of the
trade mark CITIBANK, the Panel finds it highly unlikely that this has not been
known to Respondent when registering the domain name at issue. Hence, the Panel
finds that Respondent’s registration and use of the domain name at issue appears
to be an intentional attempt to capitalize upon a likely confusion with Complainants’
trademark and/or domain name CITIBANK.
The Panel also finds that Respondent has failed to reply to Complainants’ attempted
communications and that he has provided false contact information. Furthermore,
the Panel takes into consideration that Respondent’s use violates specific representations
made by Respondent in the Registrar’s Registration Agreement; and that Respondent
previously has been involved in domain name disputes which have been decided
The above circumstances constitutes evidence of registration and use of a domain
name in bad faith pursuant to Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy.
For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with Paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy
and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the domain name, <citiback.com>
to be transferred to the Complainants.
Peter G. Nitter
Dated: August 7, 2003