Misspelled Trademark Does Not Save Cyber-Squatter or “Typo-squatter” From Adverse Arbitration Ruling

Domain-name arbitration complaint was filed by trademark owner Laerdal Medical Corporation at the WIPO. Laerdal had common law trademark rights in “Laerdal” before it filed a trademark application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on October 16, 2000. The Disputed Domain Name leardal.com – a misspelling of the trademark which transposes the “a” and “e” – was registered by the Respondent on October 11, 2001, nearly one year after the trademark application filing date. Laerdal’s trademark registered with the USPTO on March 25, 2003, after the domain name was registered.

laerdallogo.gifThe Panel found that the medical company’s trademark and the misspelled domain name were confusingly similar. Also, the pay-per-click advertising on the parked website targeted the same consumers based upon offers for competing medical equipment and the registrant did not have any rights or interests in the confusingly similar trademark. Further, the Panel found that the domain was registered in bad faith because it was registered after the trademark application was filed and offered similar products through pay-per-click ads. Thus, the Panel ruled that the registration “was an act of typo squatting and was calculated to confuse Internet users as to the source of and to take commercial advantage of the Complainant’s rights in the LAERDAL trademark.” Click Here To Read The WIPO Arbitration Ruling.

PRACTICE NOTE: You should choose a strong trademark because it allows for instantaneous protection from the date of first use. For example, because laerdal’s trademark is strong, even though Laerdal’s trademark had not registered with the USPTO at the time the domain name was registered, the Panel found that the prior application date was sufficient to establish trademark rights. Fanciful, arbitrary, or suggestive trademarks are strong, whereas descriptive and generic marks are weak. Click Here For Additional Suggestions In Selecting A Trademark.