Wachovia wins transfer of names on typosquatting grounds


In Wachovia Corporation v Peter Carrington, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) panellist Cherise Valles has ordered the transfer of three generic top-level domain names to Wachovia Corporation on the grounds that the disputed names were misspelled variations of the WACHOVIA trademark.

Wachovia is a leading provider of financial services to 20 million retail, brokerage and corporate customers throughout the East Coast of the United States. It brought an action under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) against Peter Carrington, a citizen of the Netherlands, who it alleged had taken the company's US registered and famous trademark, deleted one letter in one case ('wachvia.com'), rearranged the existing letters in another case ('wachovai.com'), and changed one vowel in the third case ('wochovia.com'), and then registered the misspelled names as domain names. When an internet user intending to type 'wachovia.com' typed it incorrectly to match one of Carrington's domain names, he was taken to a site called 'hanky-panky-college.com', where he would be mouse trapped into viewing a series of pornography advertisements. Wachovia provided evidence that this shocked and disturbed many legitimate banking customers. As a result, argued Wachovia, its mark was diluted and infringed.

Wachovia demanded that Carrington shut down the three sites. When the demand went unmet, Wachovia filed its complaint with WIPO, alleging (pursuant to Article 4 of the UDRP):

  • the three domain names are identical or confusingly similar to Wachovia's trademark;

  • Carrington has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain names; and

  • Carrington registered and uses the domain names in bad faith.

Carrington did not file a response. Therefore, Wachovia's contentions were not rebuffed. The panellist, Valles, agreed with the three complaint allegations and ordered that the domain names be transferred to Wachovia.

Brian Banner, Banner & Witcoff Ltd, Washington DC

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