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Archive for the ‘ICANN’ Category

ASSURANT Unable to Explain Why “Med” is Descriptive

Monday, August 6th, 2012

In a recent domain name dispute over the domain, www.medasurant.com, a single member Panel  denied a request to transfer. See Assurant, Inc. v. ICS INC. (Nat. Arb. Forum FA1447017, July 30, 2012). Complainant Assurant is a well known insurance products provider who operates a domain at  www.assurant.com. Complainant also has long standing rights to a trademark ASSURANT (Reg. 2,543,367, registered on February 26, 2002.) Complainant’s registration claims right dating back to 1999. The disputed domain was registered on February 1, 2012. Respondent did not respond to the dispute.


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.

Regarding the first element, Complainant argued that the disputed domain features a misspelling of Complainant’s mark by dropping the second letter “s” and adding the generic word “med.” The Panel noted that Complainant failed to show or even allege why the term “med” was descriptive with respect to the insurance and financial services covered by the ASSURANT mark. In fact, the Panel gave Complainant an opportunity to provide supplement arguments and evidence. Regardless, the Panel found that Complainant still failed to provide any arguments or evidence regarding the connection of the term “med” and Complainant’s services. As a result, the Panel found that Complainant was unable to satisfy ¶4(a)(i) of the Policy.

As a result, the Panel DENIED Complaint’s request to get the disputed domain.

HOT RUSSIAN BRIDES Fail To Find Their Match For Second Time

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

   hotrussianbrides

For those of you who don’t know, a company has a Federal Registration for the mark HOT RUSSIAN BRIDES. Complainant maintains a website at www.hotrussianbrides.com and they have previously been successful in using the UDRP to get some domains, such as www.hotrussianbrides.org, www.hotrussionbrides.com and www.hotrusianbride.com. However, they have also now lost two consecutive domain disputes when trying to get domains when their mark was incorporated into a  “post-domain.”

In the most recent case of Romantic Tours, Inc. v. LiquidNet US LLC (Whois Protection Dept.)  c/o Whois Agent FA1316585 (Nat. Arb. Forum, May 17, 2010) a single member panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.agencyscams.com. Complainant alleged that the disputed domain contained information about Complainant and services which Complainant offered. What was interesting about this case though was Complainant’s allegations are based, not on the TLD (top level domain), but instead on the following post-domain: www.agencyscams.com/why/hotrussianbrides.

The Panel recognized that Complainant had a trademark registration for the mark HOT RUSSIAN BRIDES, but did not find the disputed domain to be confusingly similar to the mark. The Panel cited to Complainant’s previous earlier UDRP loss Romantic Tours, Inc. v. Whois Privacy Prot. Serv., Inc., FA 1316557 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 28, 2010) (“The Panelist notes that the UDRP does not offer relief for infringements via use of registered trademarks in post-domains and that the proceedings under the UDRP may be applied only to domain names.”). For this reason the Panel found that the identical or confusingly similar prong was not met and therefore there was no need to review the remaining elements.  The Panel DENIED the request for transfer.

MAGIC BRA Can’t Find Support With UDRP Panel

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Let this be another lesson to domain dispute attorneys, simply having a U.S. trademark registration is not always enough. In the recent domain name dispute of A & H Sportswear Co., Inc. v. Hu Yanlin (WIPO D2010-0476, May 12, 2010) a single member Panel was faced with an interesting international dispute over the domain www.magicbra.com. Complainant is the manufacturer and designer of women’s apparel. Complainant is the owner of two trademark registrations for MAGIC BRA, 2756417 and 3335611 dating from as early as 1994. The Respondent filed a response and raised numerous objections. Some of Respondent noteworthy arguments include the following:

[T]he term “magic bra” is a descriptive term which not only refers to a brassiere which will make breasts look bigger but also refers to different methods of breast enlargement such as by nutritional, sports or medial operative means and the Complainant cannot claim exclusive rights over general and descriptive words which are used in accordance with their natural meaning….Complainant has no registered trade mark rights in China and to his knowledge does not sell its MAGIC BRA products in that country….[E]ven in the United States there appears to be several trade marks which incorporate the words “magic bra” and therefore even in the United States the term is common or descriptive…..

Interestingly when on looks at the USPTO database, there is another company who has two other trademark registrations, MAGIC BRA COLLECTION SWIM (Reg. No. 3552163) and MAGIC BRA COLLECTION (Reg. No. 3593248). The owner of those marks appears to maintain a website at www.magicbraswim.com. As Respondent noted, it does not appear as though Complainant is operating a website of their own.  The Panel agreed with the Respondent noting as follows:

The Complainant asserts that its MAGIC BRA mark is well-known and that it owns exclusive rights in relation to the mark and that people would associate the mark with products produced by the Complainant and that it has not authorised the Respondent to use its mark and essentially that the Respondent is using its mark to attract traffic to its website. However, none of these bald assertions are supported by any evidence or even by circumstantial evidence which would allow the Panel to draw appropriate inferences.

The Panel accepted Respondent’s assertions that it did not know about Complainant before registering the domain. Additionally, the Panel noted that since the disputed domain was written entirely in Chinese, and Complainant had failed to provide any evidence of registration or use in China, it would be unlikely to compete with Complainant. The Panel recognized that it was being used for a prking site, it was unclear to the Panel if that domain had been parked since its registration and if so, why Complainant waited seven years to complain. The Panel found that the two operated in separate geographical markets and found Complainant failed to submit evidence of bad faith. For all these reasons, the Panel DENIED the request for transfer.

Important Statistics About UDRP Panelists from WIPO and NAF

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Recently some important information about the UDRP process has come to light. First, domain attorney Zak Muscovitch put out a survey of National Arbitration Forum Panelists. (Available here) Then the good folks at Domain Name Wire did a similar study of WIPO. (Available here) The interesting information from NAF shows the great difference between the amount of cases some Panelists are “assigned” compared with others.

 What was most interesting was a simple finding, that out of a possible 141 Panelist, NAF had supplied one Panelist with approximately 966 cases, out of the nearly 10,000 handled by NAF. This equates to nearly 10% of the total case count. Since many in the industry would hope this selection process was random, the numbers tell a different story.

According to the survey done by Muscovitch the following results were supplied (As of March 2010)

The top 10 most active panelists are as follows:

1. Carolyn Marks Johnson with 966 cases  10% of total cases
2. James A. Carmody with 889 cases  9.4% of total cases
3. Charles K. McCotter Jr. with 818 cases  8.6% of total cases
4. Ralph Yachnin with 720 cases  7.6% of total cases
5. Tyrus R. Atkinson Jr. with 623 cases  6.5% of total cases
6. Karl V. Fink with 499 cases  5.2% of total cases
7. John J. Upchurch with 478 cases  5% of total cases
8. Harold Kalina with 460 cases  4.8 % of total cases
9. Paul Dorf with 440 cases  4.6 % of total cases
10. Louis E. Condon with 437 cases  4.6% of total cases
The top 10 most active panelists are all from the United States.

Who are the Top 5 Panelists who deny the most claims?

1. David Bernstein  73.7% claims denied
2. David A. Einhorn  70.5% claims denied
3. Gilbert Thornton Cave  66.6% of claims denied
4. G. Gervaise Davis  62.5% claims denied
5. Daniel B. Banks  46.3% claims denied

Who are the Top 5 Panelists who transfer the most claims?

1. Harold Kalina  97.1% claims transferred
2. Ralph Yachnin  95.7% claims transferred
3. Carolyn Marks Johnston  92.7% claims transferred
4. Tyrus R. Atkinson Jr.  92.1% claims transferred
5. Charles K. McCotter Jr.  91.6% claims transferred 

Domain Name Wire then came out with a review of WIPO, and even got a response from WIPO regarding their “process” involving the selection of Panelists. The results of this survey seem to show the opposite approach by WIPO, based on the statistics. The survery found as follows:

Top 10 Panelists by Number of Cases

Willoughby, Tony 293
Abbott, Frederick M. 238
Donahey, M. Scott 236
Foster, Dennis A. 204
Barker, Sir Ian 196
Page, Richard W. 196
Limbury, Alan L. 193
Bernstein, David H. 160
Partridge, Mark 158
Perkins, David 157

Domain Name Wire received a written statement from David Roache-Turner, Head of Domain Name Dispute Resolution Section at WIPO. The important take away from this letter follows:

As to WIPO’s own panel appointment considerations, these are informed by a range of highly conservative, legally and ethically responsible factors, including: panel language capability; party and panel nationality; geographic diversity; panel availability; panel experience; jurisdictionally relevant expertise; where possible, prior cases involving parties at issue, and citation in pleadings to previous decisions; and lack of panel conflict as confirmed by declarations of independence and impartiality.

These numbers are telling, and important for an Domain Name practitioner or domain owner, in showing the contrasting nature of NAF and WIPO.

Two Mailing List Companies Fight Over Cyberspace

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

usdatacorp-b usadata

In the recent domain name dispute decision of USADATA, Inc. v. K2, Incorporated and US Data Corporation FA1307329 (Nat. Arb. Forum, April 1, 2010) a single member panel was faced with a dispute over the domains www.usdatacorporation.com and www.usdatawest.com. Complainant claims rights to the mark USADATA, which was registered on the Supplemental Register in 2002. Complainant maintains a web site at www.usadata.com. Respondent provided a response and both parties provided additional submissions.

Paragraph 4(a) of the 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’s findings were as follows: (1) The disputed domain names were confusingly similar and Complainant had established it had sufficient common law rights to the mark USADATA.  (2) The Panel found that both parties established rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, therefore noting that Complainant failed to prove up this element.

(3) The bad faith argument is what creates a particular interest in this decision. The Panel found that the evidence did not support Complainant’s assertion that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain names in bad faith nor used them in violation of Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii). Respondent made an argument that the doctrine of laches applied, since Respondent had used the domains for many years prior to this dispute. The Panel explained:

The Respondent asserts that the Complainant has waited five years before making any claim in respect to the disputed domain names, and although not a defense to a complaint brought under the policy, it should be considered by the Panel as evidence for Respondent in its considerations of the elements of the policy.  The Panel understands that the doctrine of laches is no defense but has chosen to consider Complainant’s long delay in asserting any rights to the disputed domain names as a factor against Complainant.  The Panel therefore finds that this evidence is relevant to a determination of whether or not Respondent has been able to build up legitimate rights in the domain name in the interim and whether or not Respondent was using the domain name in bad faith.

Ultimately, the Panel DENIED the request for transfer of the domains.

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.

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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