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AMERICAN GIRL’s New Character …Domain Enforcer

   americangirl

In the recent domain name dispute decision of American Girl, LLC and American Girl Brands, LLC v. Eileen Coleman (Nat. Arb. Forum FA1279516, September 28, 2009), a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.americangirldollsclothing.com. Complainant is the widely popular creator and seller of dolls, dolls accessories, and books for young girls. They have many trademark registrations for the mark AMERICAN GIRL and maintain a web site at www.americangirl.com. Respondent registered the disputed domain on July 18, 2008 and failed to respond to the complaint.

Paragraph 4(a) of the 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 registrations were sufficient to establish rights for the AMERICAN GIRL mark under the UDRP Policy. The Panel found that the disputed domain contained all of Complainant’s mark with the addition of the words dolls and clothing. These additional words describe products sold by Complainant, thus there was no significant distinguishing nature of the disputed domain. The Panel found that Policy ¶4(a)(i) was satisfied.

Moving to the second element, the Panel noted that Complainant made a prima facie showing under the UDRP Policy. Additionally, the Panel found that the Whois information did not show that Respondent was commonly known by the domain. The disputed domain resolved to a web site with a similar color scheme as Complainant and also displayed Complainant’s mark. The Panel found this use to be a passing off of Complainant.  The disputed domain also contained links to competing third party web sites. For these reasons, the Panel found that Policy ¶4(a)(ii) was satisfied.

Moving to the final element, the Panel explained:

Respondent, upon registering the <americangirldollsclothing.com> domain name on July 18, 2008, uses the disputed domain and its similar resolving website to divert Internet users to competing third-party websites that sell Complainant’s products.  The Panel finds that Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name constitutes bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii) because it disrupts Complainant’s business… The Panel further finds that Respondent’s conduct, presumably for commercial gain, constitutes bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv).

For these reasons, the Panel found that Complainant satisfied the last element, thus meeting its overall burden. As a result, the Panel ordered the disputed domain be TRANSFERRED.

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