Cambridge.org v. Carnbridge.org: a UDRP Case on Typosquatting and Identity Theft

The University of Cambridge started a UDRP proceeding under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Arbitration and Mediation Center to obtain the transfer of the unsettling domain name carnbridge.org. The transfer of the domain name was ordered (WIPO, D2018-1542, The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge v. Sunny Legend, September 7, 2018, transfer). Two issues lie at the heart of the decision: typosquatting and identity theft.


The panelist started his decision by considering the case as related to typosquatting, stating that it is a concept that was recognized and admitted early in the history of cybersquatting.
Firstly, the panelist proposes the following definition:
[Typosquatting] consists in selecting for a domain name a succession of letters that approximate a trade mark and/or a second-level domain name already registered. Were it an identical domain name in all its elements, the second registration could not happen. So, by necessity, there is always a slight difference between the first domain name registered as well as the corresponding trade mark and the almost identical domain name which has been registered later
Secondly, the panelist suggests a method to legally determine whether or not the domain name is confusingly similar to the trademark. This method consists of the following four tests:
(a) comparative grammatical analysis of the two distinctive signs at issue;
(b) visual comparison between the two distinctive signs;
(c) phonetic comparison on the succession of vowels and consonants;
(d) semantic comparison between the marks and disputed domain names.”
In the present case, the four tests make it possible to conclude with typosquatting.
Grammatical test
The panelist notes “an identical number of syllables, with an identical succession of vowels. Only two consonants are different. However, these two consonants fail to pass the test of a sufficient difference with the trade marks of the Complainant and its first registered domain name <cambridge.org>“.
Phonetic and visual tests
The phonetic and visual impression between the “Cambridge” trademark and the cambridge.org domain name and the disputed domain name carnbridge.org can only lead to confusion. Indeed, “[t]he difference between “m” in Cambridge and “rn” in carnbridge is negligible, and not likely to be perceived by the usual reader on Internet using usual fonts such as Arial“.
Semantic test
The fame of the University of Cambridge is such that it seems difficult to dissociate the name “Cambridge” from the university, although there are cities bearing that name.

Identity theft

The decision D2018-1542 reveals that the disputed domain name was used to send fraudulent emails, in order to obtain financial gain:
The intention was not only to divert customers from the University of Cambridge in its different sectors, such as the Cambridge University Press, but also with the purpose of embezzling money through sending fraudulent emails purporting to originate with the Cambridge University Press.”
The panelist considered the following statement of the UDRP complaint:
On February 28, 2018, Mr. Guy Wheeler, Senior Counsel at Cambridge University Press, was forwarded an email thread which resulted from purportedly Cambridge University Press acting through Mr. Whitehouse, one of its senior officials. Mr. Whitehouse is deputy CFO and Director of Finance at Cambridge University Press. His official email address is […]@cambridge.org. Mr. Whitehouse appeared in those mails as asking a customer, the Turkish firm Dunya, a long-standing and important customer of Cambridge University Press, for payment of GBP 500,000. The email address from which the requests originated is […]@carnbridge.org, where the last part of the address is made up of the disputed domain name“.
Obviously, the domain name carnbridge.org was used to conduct identity theft.

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