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Archive for January, 2010

1,542…Wow, That’s A Lot Of Domains!

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Inter-Continental Hotels Corporation and Six Continents Hotels, Inc. decided that one man’s ownership of 1,542 domains was just too much to bear. In the recent cybersquatting decision of Inter-Continental Hotels Corporation, Six Continents Hotels, Inc. v. Daniel Kirchhof (WIPO Case No. D2009-1661, January 19, 2010) a single member panel had the long task of sorting through these domains. For a full listing of all the domains in dispute please see the decision.

Paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN UDRP Policy provides that a complainant must prove each of the following: (i) that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or a service mark in which the complainant has rights; and (ii) that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name; and (iii) that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

Complainants are the well known corporate owners of multiple hotel chains which include, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites, Staybridge, Hotel Indigo, Candlewood, and Candlewood Suites. For more info about Complainants go to www.ichotelsgroup.com or www.ihg.com .

The Panel, in addressing the first element noted that most of the domain names included Complainants’ trademarks with the addition of some geographic indicator. Thus the domains were found to be identical or confusingly similar. The Panel also found that many of the domains contained Complainants’ trademarks and a descriptive term. These were also determined to be confusingly similar. The Panel further found that many of the disputed domain names started with part of the Complainant’s trademark in combination with a geographic location or generic term. These were also found to be confusingly similar. However, a total of ten (10) of the disputed domain names were found to not be confusingly similar to any of Complainant’s trademarks.

The Panel quickly dealt with the second element noting:

The websites resolving from the disputed domain names create the impression that they are official websites for the relevant hotel, or potentially, that the Respondent manages the hotel. By using the Complainant’s trade marks, the Respondent is falsely suggesting he is the trade mark owner or the website is the official site for the accommodation of the Complainant’s related entities when it is not…. Accordingly, the Panel concludes that the Respondent intentionally selected domain names which contained the Complainant’s trade marks, and added a word or words which do not serve to distinguish them, but which strengthens the association with the Complainant or its goods and services, for the purpose of redirecting Internet users to his own websites. Such use cannot constitute a bona fide offering of goods of services.

Although previous domain dispute decisions have an effect on a finding of bad faith, Respondent’s lack of previous decisions didn’t sway the Panel.

The Respondent has not been named as a respondent in previous UDRP decisions. However the fact that this proceeding has been brought in relation to over 1,500 domain names which contain the Complainant’s trade marks, makes it clear that the Respondent has engaged in a pattern of registering domain names in order to prevent a trade mark owner from reflecting their mark in a corresponding domain name. The Panel’s view is further supported by the fact that the Respondent owns a vast array of other domain names. This is clear evidence of bad faith.

Ultimately, the Panel agreed that 1,519 of the domains should be TRANSFERRED. There was a remaining 23 domains, of which 13 with withdrawn and 10 were DENIED.

JUICY COUTURE Shuts Down Counterfeiter Domain

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

           Juicy-Couture

In the recent cybersquatting case of Juicy Couture, Inc. v. Francisco Gibbs FA1296086 (Nat. Arb. Forum, January 13, 2009) a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.JuicyCoutureWholesale.com. Complainant is the well known retailer of men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel, toiletries, paper products, and accessories.  Complainant purchased the JUICY COUTURE mark in 2003 and has continued use of the mark. Complainant maintains a web site at www.juicycouture.com. Respondent registered the disputed domain on November 6, 2009 and failed to respond to the complaint.

Paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN UDRP Policy requires that Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred: (1) the domain name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and (2) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and (3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

In addressing the first element, the Panel noted that Complainant’s multiple JUICY COUTURE trademark registrations sufficiently established their rights to the mark. The Panel found that the domain incorporated all of the JUICY COUTURE mark and merely added the generic word wholesale. For this reason the Complainant was able to prove the first element.

The Panel moved to the second element, noting that Complainant presented a prima facie case, shifting the burden to Respondent. The Panel found that Respondent was not commonly known by the disputed domain. Additionally, Respondent was found to not have authorization to use the mark. The Panel further explained:

According to Complainant, the <juicycouturewholesale.com> domain name is being used in association with a website that offers counterfeits of Complainant’s products for sale without authorization.  Such use for the purpose of benefiting from the goodwill associated with Complainant’s JUICY COUTURE mark does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i).  Furthermore, Respondent’s use of the JUICY COUTURE mark in the domain name to operate a competing website for profit is not a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). 

For these reasons, Complainant proved the second element. Moving to the final element, the Panel again discussed the presence of the domain offering counterfeit goods. The Panel found this counterfeit use suggests the domain was registered for the purpose of disrupting Complainant’s business and thus was bad faith. Additionally, the offering of counterfeit goods was an attempt to profit by creating a likelihood of confusion. For these reasons, the Panel found this element was proven by Complainant.

Ultimately, the Panel found the Juicy Couture proved all three elements and ordered the domain be TRANSFERRED.

Arbitrator Slams Complainant For “Paltry” Record Evidence

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

In the recent cybersquatting case of Digital Alchemy, LLC v. Digital Alchemy c/o Ramon Felciano FA1295928 (Nat. Arb. Forum, January 12, 2010) a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.DigitalAlchemy.com. Complainant operates in the field of electronic CRM for the Hospitality Industry and maintains a web site at www.data2gold.com. Complainant claims no registered trademark but states it has common law rights dating back to 1996.  Respondent is a consulting firm based in San Francisco, California, specializing in business, product, and technology strategy for life sciences, healthcare and technology markets. Respondent claims to have been offering its consulting services since 1993.

Paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN UDRP Policy requires that the Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred: (1) the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; (2) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and (3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

In addressing the first element, the Panel noted that the disputed domain is identical to the DIGITAL ALCHEMY mark. But the Panel found that Complainant failed to demonstrate it has rights to the mark. The Panel criticized the Complainant’s contention that it had used the mark in connection with its services since 1996, noting that it was a conclusory statement lacking sufficient evidence. The Panel further finds that Complainant failed to present evidence of secondary meaning. The Panel cited to another prior decision and explained.

 In declining to recognize the complainant’s common law mark in Kip Cashmore the panel stated:  “Here, Complainant has not presented any credible evidence establishing acquired distinctiveness [for the complainant’s goods and services]. The record is devoid of any declarations of unaffiliated parties attesting that the mark of Complainant serves as an identifier of origin or services. Complainant’s record consists of merely a declaration of Complainant with unsupported facts…” Here the record is even more paltry than in Kip Cashmore, as there isn’t even a self-serving declaration by Complainant that its mark serves as an identifier of its goods and services in the public’s mind.

Moving to the second element, the Panel continued its analysis. The Panel found Complainant failed to present a prima facie case. Respondent presented evidence of doing business since 1993 under the Digital Alchemy name, which was prior to Complainant’s use. The Panel dismissed Complainant’s Additional Submission argument that there was no proof of continuos use by Respondent, noting the UDRP had no such requirement. The Panel also dismissed Complainant’s contention that the offer to sell the domain, after being solicited by Complainant did not satisfy this element.

In addressing the final element, bad faith, the Panel explained:

Given Respondent’s use of the Digital Alchemy name in its business since 1993, and the Panel’s finding that Respondent has rights and legitimate interests in the domain name, the Panel concludes that Respondent did not register and is not using the domain in bad faith. Indeed, as prior panels have held, once a panel has determined that a respondent has rights and legitimate interests in a domain name, the question of bad faith is moot.

Ultimately, the Panel found that Complainant failed to prove any of the three elements, and DENIED the request for transfer.

Japanese Beer ASAHI Chugs One After Successful Cybersquatting Win

Friday, January 8th, 2010

        asahi-beer

In the recent cybersquatting action, Asahi Breweries Ltd. v. Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc., Demand Domains, Inc. WIPO D2009-1481 (December 25, 2009), a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.asahibeer.com. Complainant has used the mark ASAHI for beer since 1892 and maintains a domain at www.asahibeerusa.com. The disputed domain was registered in 1998 and Respondent provided a Response to the Complaint.

Under paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN UDRP Policy, in order to obtain the remedy of transfer of the disputed domain name, Complainant must prove (i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which the Complainant has rights; and (ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and (iii) the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith by the Respondent.

Respondent requested that the decision be dismissed and agreed to transfer the domain to Complainant. Respondent sought the Panel to not render a decision in light of its agreement to transfer, but the Panel explained that Complainant’s failure to accept the offer of settlement under paragraph 17 of the Rules, it would proceed with the decision.

In addressing the first element, the Panel explained that the long standing rights to the ASAHI mark were established and that the domain was identical and confusingly similar to the domain. As a result the Panel found Complainant proved this element.

Moving to the second element, the Panel explained that Complainant made a prima facie case. The Panel found that Respondent did not use the web site for any legitimate, bona fide or non-commercial purpose. The Panel found that Complainant satisfied this element as well.

The final element, bad faith, provided more review by the Panel. The Panel found that the sponsored links to third party web sites was evidence of bad faith registration and use. Respondent argued that its offer to transfer was evidence to demonstrate its good faith. The Panel dismissed this argument noting recent cases and explained:

In some recent cases respondents have taken advantage of complainants, who in good faith had accepted their offers of transfer to settle disputes. The respondents in such cases typically put forward a proposal to transfer the domain name, with a specific request that there should be no finding of bad faith. It appears, in some of those cases, the requests for settlement were only a ploy to gain additional time in order to continue deriving the revenue generated from the disputed domain names and were apparently not genuine offers of settlement. The cases then had to be reinstituted by the complainant, while the respondent had managed to gain further time generating pay-per-click revenue in the guise of making an offer of settlement.

The Panel went further to note that bad faith had been found in cases where inadvertent registration through semi-automated processes occurred. The Panel also found that the number of cases Respondent had been involved in showed a consistent pattern and was additional proof of bad faith.

The Panel found that ASAHI proved all three elements and ordered the domain be TRANSFERRED.

JETPAY Soars Above The Competition With Domain Win

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

jetpay_logo

In the recent cybersquatting action JetPay, LLC v. JetyPayments FA1294887 (Nat. Arb. Forum, January 6, 2010) a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.jetypay.com. Complainant offers credit card and check authorization processing services since 2000 and maintains a web site a www.jetpay.com. Complainant holds a trademark registration for the JETPAY mark. Respondent registered the disputed domain in December 2007 and failed to respond to the complaint.

Paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN UDRP Policy requires that Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred: (1) the domain name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and (2) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and (3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

In addressing the first element, the Panel noted that Complainant established its rights in the JETPAY mark pursuant to the Policy. Additionally, the Panel found that Complainant provided sufficient evidence of common law rights and secondary meaning for the mark dating back to 2000. A comparison of the mark with the disputed domain showed that Respondent merely added the letter “y” in the middle. As a result, the Panel found this to be confusingly similar.

Moving to the second element, the Panel explained that Complainant set forth a prima facie case, shifting the burden to Respondent. Interstingly the Panel found that although Respondent appeared to be commonly known by the disputed domain, it still lacked rights and legitimate interests in the domain. The Panel explained that Respondnet’s use of the domain, namely selling goods or services similar to Complainant’s was not a bona fide offering nor a legitimate noncommerical use. As a result, the Panel noted Complainant satisfied this element.

The last element, bad faith, was also favorable to Complainant. The Panel explained the disputed domain linked internet users to a website offering similar products and services as those of Complainant. This was found to be bad faith under the Policy. Additionally, the use of a confusingly similar domain name to attract users for profit, creates a strong likelihood of confusion, thus also being bad faith.

Ultimately, the Panel found that Complainant satisfied all three elements and ordered the domain be TRANSFERRED.

ALIENWARE Teaches Computer Programmer Lesson About Domains

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Alienware-logoalienware-laptop

In the recent domain name dispute decision of Alienware Corporation v. James Dann FA1290045 (Nat. Arb. Forum December 28, 2009) a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.alienlaptop.com. Alienware, is the well known line of Desktops and Laptop computers, most often sold to gamers. Alienware is wholly owned by Dell, but operates a web site at www.alienware.com. Respondent registered the disputed domain on April 4, 2008 and provided a response to the dispute. Both parties provided Additional Submission arguments in the case.

Paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN UDRP Policy requires that the Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred: (1) the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; (2) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and (3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

The Panel addressed the first element, noting that Alienware established rights in the ALIENWARE mark through its trademark registrations. The Panel analyzed the disputed domain and noted that “alien” was the dominant part of Complainant’s mark. The Panel found that the addition of the word laptop was confusingly similar due to its obvious relationship to Alienware’s business.

In Alienware’s additional submission, it cited to another decision, Alienware Corporation v. Optimize My Site, FA0910001290038, (Nat. Arb. Forum December 2, 2009), which found that www.alienlaptops.com was confusingly similar. Respondent objected to this reference alleging that it amended the Complaint in violation of NAF Supp Rule 7(f). The Panel disagreed noting that it did not change the arguments of the case. For these reasons the Panel found that Alienware satisfied the first element.

Moving to the second element, the Panel explained that Alienware made a prima facie case, shifting the burden of proof to Respondent. The Panel found Respondent failed to make active use of the domain and therefore did not make a bona fide offering of goods or services. Respondent argued that he used an email address with the domain name, but the Panel was not convinced that this was sufficient. The Panel dismissed such argument, noting that if use of an email was sufficient, then the UDRP would become easily avoidable.  The Panel was also not convinced by Respondent’s arguments that he purchased several domains as part of an eventual plan to start a software consulting business. The Panel found this to lack proper demonstrable preparations of a bona fide offering. The Panel found Alienware satisfied this element as well.

Moving to the final element, the Panel appeared to hand Respondent it most direct findings.

The Panel agrees with the Complainant that the Respondent knew or ought to know the existence of the Complainant’s Marks. The leader status of the Complainant as a producer of computers designed for gaming and other graphically intense applications under ALIENWARE trademarks and the profession of the Respondent as Software Engineer and Computational Linguist are sufficient arguments to support a finding of the Respondent’s prior knowledge of the Complainant’s Marks.

Additionally, the Panel found that failure to use the site in an active manner was evidence of bad faith. Ultimately, the Panel found Alienware proved all three elements and ordered the domain be TRANSFERRED.

Would Bruce Lee Have Approved Of This Fight?

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

 bruclee-b    bruclee-a

In the recent domain name dispute decision of Hargrave Arts LLC c/o Carter Hargrave v. Chiefasian LLC c/o Martin Eng FA1294273 (Nat. Arb. Forum, December 31, 2009), a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.jeetkunedo.com. Complainant is the owner of multiple Jeet Kune Do related domains, including www.jeetkunedo.net and www.jeetkunedo.org. Mr. Hargrave is the president of the World Jeet Kune Do Federation. He claims common law trademark rights to the mark JEET KUNE DO. A little background is necessary, for an understanding of the origins of JEET KUNE DO. This form of martial arts was founded by Bruce Lee in the late 1960’s. According to the decision, Complainant is one of about 50 certified instructors. The disputed domain was registered on March 6, 2000 and Respondent provided a response to the complaint.  Although the Response was not provided the Panel noted that Respondent claims Hargrave does not have rights to the JEET KUNE DO mark.

Paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN UDRP Policy requires that the Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred: (1) the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; (2) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and (3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

The Panel addressed the first element explaining that Complainaint contends he acquired rights to the JEET KUNE DO mark from Bruce Lee and the Bruce Lee Jeet Kune DO School. However, the Panel notes that Hargrave fails to provide any evidence that it represents Bruce Lee or the Bruce Lee School. Additionally, Hargrave fails to provide any evidence that any of the rights to the JEET KUNE DO mark were assigned or licensed to him. For these reasons, the Panel found that Hargrave did not satisfy the first element.

The Panel did not review the remaining elements and DENIED the request for transfer.

Respondent Has Interesting Arguments For Registering Microsoft’s BING Domains

Monday, January 4th, 2010

       bing-logo

In the recent domain name dispute decision of Microsoft Corporation v. Doug Goodman FA1294422 (Nat. Arb. Forum, December 31, 2009) a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over 21 separate domains containing the mark BING. Microsoft needs no introduction and maintains many web sites for its business, the most relevant in this case being, www.bing.com. The disputed domains were registered during a three day period of June 24, 2009 through June 26, 2009. Respondent provided a response to the dispute, and gave some colorful defenses, which included:

1.    Respondent “created of formulated” the disputed domain names that had been missed by “Microsoft webmasters” until Respondent offered them to Complainant.
2.      The disputed domain names would bring value to the Complainant and the Complainant should pay for them.
3.      Respondent concedes that each of the names has BING in them and that BING is a pending mark
4.      The domain names were not registered in bad faith because Respondent had no intent to harm BING, Inc.
5.      Respondent does not use the disputed domain names to divert users from BING, Inc.
6.      Because of the value the disputed names will bring to Complainant, the case should be viewed as a case of reverse name highjacking

Paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN UDRP Policy requires Complainant to prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred: (1) the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; (2) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and (3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

In addressing the first element, Microsoft noted that it does not have any registered BING marks yet, but did file for multiple BING related trademarks in March 2009. The Panel noted that Microsoft need not have a trademark registration and can show that it has common law rights to the mark. Microsoft presented evidence that it has continuously used the BING mark since May 28, 2008 and that a previous UDRP Panel found that it had established its rights to the mark. As a result, the Panel reviewed the disputed domains and found that they were confusingly similar to the BING mark. Interestingly, as the Panel explained, Respondent concedes that he intentionally put the BING mark in the domains and was fully aware of Microsoft’s interest in the mark. The Panel found Microsoft satisfied this element.

Moving to the second element, the Panel noted that Microsoft put forth a prima facie case, shifting the burden of argument to Respondent. The Panel noted that Respondent was not commonly known by the disputed domain. Additionally, the Panel found that four (4) of the domains led users to a web site with third party hyperlinks, some of which compete with Microsoft. The Panel found that this was not a bona fide offering of services. Regarding the remaining 17 domains, the Panel noted that they redirected the user to Microsoft’s BING.com web site. The Panel explained that Respondent admitted his primary intention in registering these domains was to sell them to Microsoft. Offering to sell the domains is also not considered a bona fide use. The Panel found that Microsoft satisfied this element.

Moving to the final element, bad faith, the Panel noted that the Respondent attempted to sell the domains for more then his out-of-pocket expenses. This factor is considered bad faith. Additionally, the four domains which landed on parked pages, also were a showing of bad faith, since they likely resulted in click-through fees for Respondent. The Panel found Microsoft satisfied this element as well.

The Panel quickly dispensed with Respondent’s reverse domain name hijacking argument and found that since Microsoft had proved all three elements, it ordered all 21 domains be TRANSFERRED.

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