In a recent domain name dispute decision, Party Booths, LLC v. Cornelius Angsuco (Nat. Arb. Forum, FA1398420 August 10, 2011) a single member panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.envypartybooths.com. Complainant, Party Booths, LLC, owns the PARTYBOOTHS mark which it uses in connection with its photo booth rental services. Complainant also maintains a website at www.partybooths.com. The disputed domain was registered on September 9, 2009, prior to the January 13, 2010 filing date of Complainant’s trademark application. Respondent failed to respond to the Complaint.
Paragraph 4(a) of the 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 found that Complainant established rights in the PARTYBOOTHS mark and that the domain name was confusingly similar. Moving to the second element, the Panel found that respondent was not commonly known by the disputed domain pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). Regarding the offering of bona fide goods or services, the Panel explained:
The <envypartybooths.com> domain name resolves to a website whichsolicits photo booth rentals. This is precisely the same service which Complainant offers through its own website. The Panel therefore finds that Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name is neither a Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) bona fide offering of goods or services nor a Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii) legitimate noncommercial or fair use.
For these reasons, the Panel found that the Respondent did not have a legitimate interest in the domain. Moving to the final element, bad faith registration and use, the Panel recognized that the disputed domain was registered prior to the filing date and registration of the trademark. The Panel went further to explain:
Although Complainant claims that the mark had been used prior to the registration of the <envypartybooths.com> domain name, Complainant provides no evidence of such use and fails to state in what way it was used prior to its filing with the USPTO. Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent could not have registered the disputed domain name in bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii) because its registration of the disputed domain name predated the registration of Complainant’s mark.
Ultimately, the Panel found that Complainant did not satisfy all three elements and DENIED the request to transfer the domain.