ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION AltaVista Company v. Andrew Krotov Case No. D2000-1091
1. The Parties The Complainant is AltaVista Company of 529 Bryant Street, Palo Alto, California 94301, United States of America. The Respondent is Andrew Krotov of St. Furshtadskaya h. 14 fl. 58, St. Petersburg, Spb 230385 Russia.
2. The Domain Name(s) and Registrar(s) The domain name in issue is “altavisga.com” (“the domain name”). The Registrar is CORE Internet Council of Registrars.
3. Procedural History 3.1 The Complaint was received by WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (“the Center”) by e-mail on August 18, 2000, and in hardcopy on August 21, 2000. An amendment to the Complaint was received by e-mail on September 1, 2000.
3.2 On September 4, 2000, the Center transmitted via e-mail to Core Internet Council of Registrars., a request for registrar verification in connection with the Complaint. On September 5, 2000, Core Internet Council of Registrars transmitted via e-mail its verification response confirming that the Respondent is the Registrant of the domain name and that the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”) applies to the domain name.
3.3 No Response to the Complaint has to date been received by the Center and a Notification of Respondent Default was sent to the Respondent by post and by e-mail on October 2, 2000.
3.4 On October 11, 2000, the Center advised the parties that the Panel had been constituted with a single panelist, Nick Gardner. A statement of acceptance and declaration of impartiality and independence has been filed by the Panel.
3.5 The date scheduled for the Panel to render its decision is October 24, 2000.
3.6 The Complainant is represented by Laurie S. Gill, Esq. of attorneys at law Palmer & Dodge LLP, One Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108, United States of America.. The Respondent is not represented in this proceeding.
4. Factual Background 4.1 The Complainant is the well-known provider of Internet search facilities and other Internet related services. The Complainant is the registered proprietor of the trademark “ALTAVISTA” in the United States. This mark is registered in respect of , inter alia, computer services and computer software. The earliest of its United States trademarks was registered on March 25, 1997. The Complainant claims to have trademarks registrations for “ALTAVISTA” or applications for registration of that mark in a large number of other countries. Although no evidence of these other marks was filed, the Panel will proceed on the basis that the Claimant has such marks and rights.
4.2 The Complainant has operated a website under the domain name “altavista.com” since 1995.
4.3 On or about March 13, 2000, the Respondent registered the domain name.
4.4 The website at the domain name has a number of boxes which can be clicked by visitors to the website. One of these provides a link to a “webprovider.com”. This website appears to offer a number of services including a directory of subject headings. A user clicking on one of these headings is taken to a list of other websites which relate to the chosen topic. Another of the boxes provides a link to a website which contains Russian text.
4.5 On July 31, 2000, the Complainant through its attorneys, sent a letter to the Respondent at the address which had been provided to the Registrar demanding that he cease and desist from using the domain name. This letter was returned to the Complainant.
5. Claimant’s Contentions The Complainant’s contentions may be summarized as follows:
5.1 The domain name confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark “ALTAVISTA”. The substitution of the “T” in the Complainant’s mark for a “G” imitates the Complainant’s mark and will cause confusion amongst Internet users.
5.2 The Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in the domain name. In this respect, the Complainant alleges that there is no indication that the Respondent uses the name “ALTAVISGA” in his business nor that he is known by that name, nor that he has any rights in the name. Moreover, the website at the domain name does not refer to the name “ALTAVISGA” and provides only links to other websites.
5.3 The Respondent registered and is using the domain name in bad faith. In this respect, the Complainant alleges that:
(a) the Respondent’s registration and use of a confusingly similar variation of the Complainant’s mark were intended to divert traffic and potential business intended for the Complainant to the Respondent’s site. It is not clear whether the Complainant alleges that this has in fact interfered with its business, caused it to lose revenue and created confusion as to the “source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the Respondent’s website” or whether it is simply alleged that this is the Respondent's intention;
(b) the Respondent’s registration of a domain name that is a simple typographical error and misspelling of the famous “ALTAVISTA” mark is itself evidence of bad faith; and
(c) the fact that the letter sent to the address provided by the Respondent to the Registrar was returned as undeliverable indicates that the Respondent provided a false address and that this demonstrates bad faith.
5.4 The Respondent has not provided any submissions to this Panel.
6. Discussion and Findings 6.1 The Panel has reviewed the Complaint and the documents annexed to these documents. In the light of this material, the Panel finds as set out below.
6.2 The Complainant has extensive rights in the name “ALTAVISTA” by virtue of its operation of the website at “altavista.com” and its numerous trade mark registrations.
6.3 There is no evidence to show that the Respondent had any legitimate basis to register or use the domain name. The use of the domain name to direct users to other, unconnected websites does not constitute such a legitimate interest.
6.4 As far as the requirement of bad faith is concerned, the Panel is satisfied that bad faith has been shown in circumstances where (i) the only possible purpose of registration of the domain name was to capture users who are looking for the famous “altavista.com” website who make a typographical error; and (ii) a link at the corresponding website takes any such users to a third party website which offers services similar to those offered by the Complainant thereby creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark.
7. Decision 7.1 In the light of the above findings, the Panel’s decision is as set out below.
7.2 So far as paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy is concerned, the Panel concludes that the domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s “ALTAVISTA” mark.
7.3 As far as paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy is concerned, the Panel is satisfied that the Respondent has no rights to and/or a legitimate interest in the domain name.
7.4 So far as paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy is concerned, the domain name was registered and has been used in bad faith.
7.5 The Panel therefore directs that the domain name should be transferred to the Complainant.