In the recent decision of Wells Fargo & Company v. JHN Inc. (Nat. Arb. Forum 1241102, Feb. 16, 2009), a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.wellsfarfo.com. Complainant, Wells Fargo is the well known financial services company, which has been around since 1852, although it registered its WELLS FARGO mark (Reg. 779,187) on October 27, 1964. Wells Fargo maintains a web site at www.wellsfargo.com.
In the instant dispute the single member panel addressed (1) whether Respondent’s <wellsfarfo.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s WELLS FARGO mark; (2) whether Respondent had any rights or legitimate interests in the <wellsfarfo.com> domain name; and (3) whether Respondent registered and used the <wellsfarfo.com> domain name in bad faith. Respondent registered the dispute domain back in 2001, and did not respond to the proceeding.
In addressing the first prong of the ICANN UDRP policy ¶4(a)(i) the Panel noted that Wells Fargo sufficiently established its rights to the mark. Additionally, the Panel found that the disputed domain merely substituted the letter “f” for the letter “g” and added the top level domain “.com.” This effect of typosquatting, by merely creating a slightly misspelled domain, still creates a confusingly similar domain.
The Panel next moved onto the second prong of the ICANN UDRP Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii), whether the Respondent had any rights or legitimate interests in the domain. The Panel noted that once the Complainant made a prima facie case, the burden shifts to Respondent. Since Respondent did not respond to the dispute, some Panels have found the inquiry can stop there and the factor should be ruled in favor of Complainant. In this case the Panel still chose to review the evidence presented by Wells Fargo. The Panel made the following observations and findings (1) Respondent was not commonly known by the wellsfarfo.com domain; (2) Respondent was not authorized by Wells Fargo to use its mark in any manner; (3) the disputed domain resolved to a commercial site displaying links to Wells Fargo competitors in the financial industry; and (4) Respondent’s typosquatting all were justifiable reasons to find that Respondent did not have any rights or legitimate interests in the domain.
Lastly the Panel reviewed ICANN UDRP policy ¶4(a)(iii) regarding whether Respondent registered the domain in bad faith. The Panel found that the third party links on the domain, where Respondent received click-through fees was evidence of bad faith. Additionally, the Panel again pointed toward the typosquatting issues as further evidence of bad faith.
Ultimately, the Panel found Complainant satisfied all three factors and ordered the domain be TRANSFERRED.