Car Rental Giant Can't Scoop Up Porn Site's Domain

May 10, 2017 3:21 PM PST

BOSTON — One of the world’s largest car rental companies has lost a cybersquatting arbitration case over a domain similar to its three-letter trademark that points to a Chinese-language porn site.

Enterprise Holdings Inc., the parent of car rental companies Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car, filed a claim over the domain EHI9.com, which it said resolves to a "hardcore porno web page."

In its argument to transfer the domain, Enterprise Holdings argued that the initialism for its name, “EHI,” was used in EHI9.com and has created a likelihood of confusion with its own brand. The car rental giant owns U.S. and European Community trademark registrations for the EHI mark, both of which were issued in 2010.

Enterprise Holdings characterized the domain owner’s conduct as "typosquatting," pointing out that “the number ‘9’ key lies above the letter ‘I’ key on a standard keyboard, so internet users might mistakenly add a ‘9’ when typing Enterprise Holding’s domain name.

But in his decision to deny a transfer, arbitration panelist David Sorkin focused on whether the porn site, operated by Song Qiuxiang, deliberately intended to ride on the back of the Enterprise Holdings’ goodwill and trademark.

While finding that the domain was confusingly similar to Enterprise Holdings’ mark and that the domain owner lacked rights or a legitimate interests in respect of the domain name, Sorkin said that the car rental company had not proved that the disputed domain was registered and is being used in bad faith.

For a domain transfer, all three elements must be proved by a complainant.

“Respondent is located in China and is using the disputed domain name for a website that appears to be targeted at a Chinese audience. There is no evidence of any connection between respondent or its website and complainant or complainant's industry,” Sorkin wrote.

“Respondent here is using the domain name for a purpose entirely unrelated to complainant and its industry. Complainant's mark is just three letters long, and presumably is used for many purposes other than to identify complainant," he wrote.

“Complainant does not claim that the mark is famous, nor that it has ever been used in China. Furthermore, the panel has reviewed the screenshot of complainant's website furnished with the complaint and finds no instances of the EHI mark, even in the domain name itself — EHI.com — domain name redirects traffic to EnterpriseHoldings.com.

“The evidence available to the panel does not support an inference that respondent intentionally targeted complainant or its mark, or that respondent was even likely to have been aware of complainant's mark at any time prior to the filing of the complaint in this proceeding.

“The panel therefore finds that complainant has failed to meet its burden of proving that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.”

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