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Archive for the ‘WIPO’ Category

PAM ANDERSON Gets Her Name

Friday, October 1st, 2010

        

In the recent cybersquatting case of Pamela Anderson v. Alberta Hot Rods Case No. D2010-1144 (WIPO September 8, 2010) a three member panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.pamanderson.com. Pamela Anderson is well known for her acting and modeling. She has multiple trademark registration for the mark PAMELA ANDERSON. She maintains a website at www.pamelaanderson.com. Respondent registered the disputed domain on March 1, 1997 and filed a Response to the Complaint. The parties have been involved in an earlier UDRP proceeding concerning the domain names <pamelaanderson.com>, <pamelaanderson.net> and <pamelalee.com>, which resulted in the transfer of those domain names (see Pamela Anderson v. Alberta Hot Rods, WIPO Case No. D2002-1104).

Under paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN UDRP Policy, the Complainant must prove that each of the following three elements is present: (i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark; and (ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and (iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

In addressing the first element, the Panel explained that it must view Anderson’s rights in the mark based on common law, since the Federal trademark rights do not predate the registration of the domain. A discussion of common law rights extending to an abbreviation of Anderson’s first name from PAMELA to PAM, concluded in a finding that it could be found to be confusingly similar. The Panel was satisfied that the domain was confusingly similar to the mark.

Moving on to the second element, the Panel noted that Anderson claims the Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain and does not have authorization to use the domain or mark. The Panel noted the following arguments presented by Respondent:

The Respondent claims to have, as a respected publisher of a wealth of information, including biographical data, used the disputed domain name in connection with various websites in the past, all featuring biographical information about various famous personalities, dead or alive. However, the Respondent did not provide any evidence of any contemplated good faith use and therefore failed to prove rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name under the Policy.

The Panel found this element also favored Complainant. Moving onto the final element, bad faith registration and use, the Panel made the following observations regarding Respondent knowledge and actions.

Given the Complainant’s broad media coverage and the fact that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in a chronological sequence with the domain names disputed in Pamela Anderson v. Alberta Hot Rods, supra, (<pamelaanderson.com> registered on November 6, 1996; <pamanderson.com> registered on March 1, 1997; <pamelalee.com> registered on March 27, 1997; <pamelaanderson.net> registered on February 25, 1998), it is inconceivable that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name without knowledge of the Complainant’s rights. This finding is further supported by the fact that the Complainant seems drawn towards registering well-known people’s names as domain names and therefore seems to be familiar with or at least interested in celebrities. The Panel is therefore satisfied that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in bad faith under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

The Panel also applied the consensus view regarding lack of active use of a domain, and explained “In the view of the Panel, the facts of this case do not allow for any plausible actual or contemplated active use of the disputed domain name by the Respondent in good faith. The Panel is therefore convinced that, even though the disputed domain name has not yet been actively used, the Respondent’s non-use of the disputed domain name amounts to use in bad faith.”

Ultimately, the Panel found that all elements were satisfied and ordered the domain be Transferred. This decision was not unanimous though as one of the Panelists provided a dissenting opinion. Additionally, The Panel dismissed the request for Reverse Domain Name Highjacking presented by Respondent.

3 Strikes for RAPIDSHARE

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

In another domain name dispute filed by RAPIDSHARE, the concept of owning the word RAPID was denied for the third time. In RapidShare AG and Christian Schmid v. Protected Domain Services Customer ID: NCR-785723/ n/a Sergey Vlasov (WIPO Case No. D2010-1106, August 27, 2010) a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.rapid4me.com. We have previously blogged about the two prior failures of RAPIDSHARE’s attempts to own the word “rapid.” However, each time the Panel has found this was too much and that RAPIDSHARE did not use RAPID as a mark and was not commonly known by the name RAPID.

To succeed, the Complainant must demonstrate that all of the elements enumerated in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been satisfied: (i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service 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 has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

In this case the Panel cited to some of the prior decisions, both for and against RAPIDSHARE, and noted that in the prior denial cases, such as RapidShare AG, Christian Schmid v. N/A Maxim Tvortsov, WIPO Case No. D2010-0696, that Panel found that www.rapidbay.net was not able to be transferred under the policy. This Panel adopted many of the same arguments, however did not get past the first element of whether or not the domain was identical or confusingly similar to the RAPIDSHARE mark. The Panel chose not to review the remaining elements.

RAPIDSHARE, Tries But Fails Again To Own The Word “RAPID”

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

   

In the recent domain name dispute decision of RapidShare AG and Christian Schmid v. Ilya, Ilya Efimov WIPO Case No. D2010-1105 (August 17, 2010) a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.rapid.org. As we previously posted on July 13, 2010, RAPID SHARE tried to claim rights to the word RAPID when seeking to get the “rapidbay.net” domain. (See post here) Complaint, Rapid Share is the well known file-hosting website which maintains a website at www.rapidshare.com. The Respondent did file a reply to the Complaint, and cited to the previous decision regarding RAPIDSHARE’s lack of rights to the word RAPID. Complainant owns a Community Trademark for RAPIDSHARE with a priority date of 2005.

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

The Panel in this case made similar findings to the previous rapidbay.net decision. The Panel noted that no evidence was put forth by RAPIDSHARE to show that it was frequently referred to as “RAPID.” The Panel found this to be fatal to Complainant’s case. Ultimately, the Panel found that Complainant failed to establish identical or confusingly similar elements as required under the policy. The Panel DENIED the request for transfer.

RAPIDSHARE Doesn’t Own the Rights to RAPID

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

         rapidhsare

In the recent domain name dispute decision of RapidShare AG , Christian Schmid v. N/A Maxim Tvortsov WIPO Case No. D2010-0696 (June 22, 2010) a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.rapidbay.net. Complaint, Rapid Share is the well known file-hosting website which maintains a website at www.rapidshare.com. The respondent did not reply to the Complaint, but the domain was registered on September 22, 2009. Complainant owns a Community Trademark for RAPIDSHARE with a priority date of 2005.

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

The Panel addressed the first prong of the test, and noted that Complainant was unable to establish ownership rights to RAPIDBAY or to the word RAPID. The Panel compare the mark RAPIDSHARE with the disputed domain and could not find enough of a similarity. The Panel explained that there was no evidence presented by Complainant to show how the two names were confusingly similar. Interestingly, the Panel noted there was a disclaimer present on the website, based on a review of a cached page of the disputed domain, which noted they were not affiliated with RAPIDSHARE. Hoever, this was not addressed in the substantive portions of the decision. The Panel found that this prong was not met and declined to review the remainder of the prongs. The Panel ended its decision with this statement.

Where a complainant’s mark consists of a combination of two common descriptive or generic words, and only one of those words has been used in the disputed domain name, satisfying the requirements of Paragraph 4(a)(i) can be a formidable task. So it has proved in this case.

Ultimately, the Panel DENIED the request for transfer.

WRESTLEMANIA Domain Fight Not Worthy Of Pay-Per-View

Friday, July 9th, 2010

wrestlemania

In the recent domain name dispute decision of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. v. Israel Joffe WIPO D2010-0860 (July 1, 2010) a single member Panel was faced with a decision over the domains www.wrestlemania26.com, www.wrestlemania27.com and  www.wrestlemania28.com. Complaint is the well known media and sports entertainment company responsible for much of the past few decades worth of wrestling entertainment. They maintain a website at www.wwe.com. WWE claims rights to the WRESTLEMANIA mark dating back to 1985.

Respondent provided a short response to the Complaint which states in full as follows:

Cybersquatting (also known as domain squatting), according to the United States federal law known as the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. The cybersquatter then offers to sell the domain to the person or company who owns a trademark contained within the name at an inflated price. However if the person does not attempt to sell the name to the company, then no laws have been violated since intent to sell in bad faith has not been proven. In Virtual Works, Inc. v. Volkswagen of America, Inc. (a dispute over the domain vw.net), the [United States] Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals created a common law requirement that the cybersquatter exhibit a bad faith intent in order to confer liability. This means that domain names bearing close resemblance to trademarked names are not per se impermissible. Rather, the domain name must have been registered with the bad faith intent to later sell it to the trademark holder. This “bad faith” concept is reiterated in 15 U.S.C. § 1125 and U.S.C. § 1129. I never had any intention of selling the names to WWE and made no attempts to sell it to them. They have not proven that I tried to sell them the name, therefore no laws have been violated and I should be allowed to keep the domain names.

The Panel did not buy these arguments and explained that paragraph 4(a) provides a non-exhaustive list of examples to prove bad faith. The Panel noted that the websites were not active and through its own research appeared to never have been active. Regardless, the Panel still explored the Respondent sole reason for proving lack of bad faith and stated:

The panel in Telstra, supra, and scores of panels subsequently, have found that “warehousing” or simply registering and holding a domain name whose dominant feature is a famous mark, is use in bad faith. This is now a well-settled rule of decision in UDRP proceedings. See WIPO Overview, paragraph 3.2, Consensus View: “The lack of active use of the domain name does not as such prevent a finding of bad faith. The panel must examine all the circumstances of the case to determine whether respondent is acting in bad faith. Examples of circumstances that can indicate bad faith include complainant having a well-known trademark, no response to the complaint, concealment of identity and the impossibility of conceiving a good faith use of the domain name.”

Ultimately, the Panel found that Complaint satisfied all three elements and ordered the domains be TRANSFERRED.

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.

REDTUBE Porn Site Enforcing Its Intellectual Property Rights

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

redtube

In an interesting twist, famed porn “tube” site REDTUBE, has decided to enforce some of its own intellectual property, despite the significant amount of copyright violations in the content it reproduces on its website.  In the recent cybersquatting case of Bright Imperial Ltd. v. Ho Nim WIPO Case No. D2010-0321, April 28, 2010, a single member Panel was face with a dispute over the domain, www.redtubehentai.com. REDTUBE is the well known website providing adult videos clips through its website www.redtube.com. REDTUBE boasts that it was the 63rd most trafficked website in the world and is the third most popular adult website. Complainant is the owner of multiple international trademark registrations for the REDTUBE mark.

Paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN UDRP Policy requires the Complainant to prove all of the following in order for its contentions to be supported in the proceedings: (i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service 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 has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

In addressing the first element the Panel explained that Complainant’s mark was registered in various jurisdictions and that the disputed domain merely added the generic word “hentai” after the mark. The Panel found this to be confusingly similar to the REDTUBE mark.

Moving onto the second element, the Panel explained that REDTUBE presented a prima facie case and found that Respondent had not made a bona fide offering of goods or services. For these reasons, the Complainant had satisfied this element.

Lastly, regarding bad faith, the Panel found that Respondent had registered many other domains which were confusingly similar to third party trademarks, showing a pattern of such bad faith behavior. Additionally, since the domain contained third party links in direct competition to Complainant, such actions were proof of bad faith.

For all these reasons, the Panel found that Complainant had met its burden and ruled that the domain be TRANSFERRED.

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.

SUBWAY Loses Relatively Simple Dispute

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

     subway

Normally we would spend some time reviewing the facts and findings of the case, however Domain Name Wire did a great job, so we suggest you read thier post available HERE. We were preparing to provide a full write up on this case, but they did a perfect job summarizing and highlighting what every practioner should know about domain disputes.  The case  Doctor’s Associates Inc. v. Atomix (WIPO D2010-0060, April 6, 2010) is a lesson learned for other attorneys and trademark owners. Looks like Subway needs to sell a few more $5 Footlongs.

Two Mattress Companies In Pillow Fight Over Domain

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

   Print

In the recent cybersquatting case of National Bedding Company L.L.C. v. Back To Bed, Inc. (WIPO D2010-0106, March 24, 2010), a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.americasmatresses.com. Complainant sells mattresses using the service mark AMERICA’S MATTRESS. It maintains a web site at www.americasmattress.com. Complainant has two registered marks relating to mattresses. The Respondent operates a number of mattress stores, also in the state of Illinois. Respondent failed to respond to the dispute. Respondent maintains a web site at www.backtobed.com. The disputed domain name was first registered in 2004.

Paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN UDRP Policy requires that the complainant prove each of the following three elements to obtain a decision that a domain name should be either cancelled or transferred: (i) The domain name registered by the respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and (ii) The respondent has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the domain name; and (iii) The domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

In addressing the first element, the Panel found that “the disputed domain name, which is merely the plural form of the Complainant’s mark, unquestionably is confusingly similar to the mark.”

The Panel next addressed whether Respondent had any rights or legitimate interests in the domain, and recognized that although there was no response by the Respondent, the Panel chose to review the facts.

The Panel is not persuaded from the record of this case that the Respondent registered and has used the disputed domain name based on a good faith belief that the disputed domain name’s value was attributable to its generic or descriptive characteristics. It can scarcely be gainsaid from the record that the Respondent was unaware of the Complainant’s prior use of the AMERICA’S MATTRESS mark, given that the Complainant and the Respondent compete directly with each other in the Chicago, Illinois area and over the Internet. To the contrary, the Panel concludes that the Respondent most likely registered the disputed domain name in order to trade on the initial interest confusion between the domain name and the Complainant’s mark, intending to attract Internet users to the Respondent’s website. This does not constitute use of the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services within the meaning of paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy.

Regarding the final element, the Panel relied on its prior conclusions regarding that Respondent must have known of Complainant due to the geographic proximity. The Panel found that Respondent “intentionally attract[ed] Internet users to its website for commercial gain, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to source, sponsorship or affiliation.”

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

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