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Posts Tagged ‘Disclaimer’

P90X Guarantees Results…Just Not These Kind of Results

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

In the recent domain name dispute of Beachbody, LLC v. Gregg Gillies (WIPO Case No. D2011-0358, April 21, 2011) a single member panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.p90xworkoutschedule.com. The disputed domain was registered on June 11, 2009 and Respondent provided a brief response which included the following statement:

There is no confusion or misrepresentation on the site as to whether it’s the original p90x site or owned by Beach Body, LLC. It clearly gives a review of the product (p90x), which I own, and in fact, even gives a positive review, so I clearly not trying to harm Beach Body or alter sales of p90x in a negative way. I use the site to share my experiences with p90x and to specifically talk about its workout schedule. I don’t pretend to be an official site, nor do I try and confuse anyone about that fact.

Complainant owns multiple trademark registrations in the U.S. and internationally related to its P90X mark. Complainant maintains a website at www.beachbody.com and also owns the domain www.p90x.com, which is forward to its main site.

Paragraph 4(a) of the UDRP ICANN Policy requires that the Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that Disputed Domain Name should be cancelled or transferred. (i) The Disputed Domain Name is identical or is confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; (ii) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Name; (iii) The Disputed Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

In addressing the first element the Panel noted that the “addition of a generic or highly descriptive term does not serve to distinguish between the mark of the complainant and the disputed domain name.” The Panel ultimately found that the domain was confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark. In addressing the second element, the Panel explained that Respondent’s name has no correlation to the disputed domain and there is no evidence of authorization or a license. However, the Panel refrained from making its decision on this prong, noting that the third prong would address concerns of the case.

The third prong, registration and use in bad faith, resulted in the most detailed analysis for this Panel. The Panel made the following observation about Complainant’s pleadings:

The heart of the Complainant’s claim in these proceedings is that, under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy, the Respondent is using the Disputed Domain Name to draw people to its site for the purpose of the promoting the e-book “Truth About Six Pack Abs.” However, the Complainant has not provided any explicit evidentiary support for this claim, other than to refer generally to Respondent’s website accessible through the Disputed Domain Name. The Complaint does not set out where on the website the Respondent has been promoting the e-book “Truth About Six Pack Abs.” Review by the Panel of the exhibits and other materials provided by the Complainant in the Complaint did not disclose any explicit reference to the promotion and sale of the e-book “Truth About Six Pack Abs.”

As a result, the Panel issued an Administrative Procedural Order seeking additional evidence and information, to which Complainant simply restated its prior allegations and failed to provide additional evidence. The Panel also noted that Respondent provided a disclaimer on the disputed domain as the lack of affiliation. In light of that disclaimer the Panel explained:

However, when there is a disclaimer on the Respondent’s website where there is a colorable argument of legitimate use, and the Complainant has provided no convincing evidence to support its claim of bad faith by the Respondent, such a disclaimer may serve to buttress Respondent’s claim that it has not acted in bad faith. The Panel finds that is the situation here. The Panel further takes note of a number of “Ads by Google” apparently present on the website, amidst Respondent’s described work-out schedule. However, even if these might in some way be indicative of use by the Respondent in bad faith, the Complainant has made no contention or submission whatsoever on this issue. As such, based on the record of the Complaint, the Panel does not find it sufficient to carry the balance in the Complainant’s favor.

Ultimately, the Panel found that Complainant failed to satisfy all three prongs and DENIED the request for transfer.

FORD Has A FIESTA With Domain Names

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

  

In the recent cybersquatting case of Ford Motor Company v. Boomerang Enterprises Inc., FA1344311 (Nat. Arb. Forum October 20, 2010) a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domains www.fiesta-armrest.com, www.fiesta-armrest.net, www.fiestaarmrest.com, www.fiestaarmrest.net, and www.fordfiestaarmrest.com. Ford is the well known longstanding car company which needs no introduction. Ford maintains a website at www.ford.com. Ford owns numerous trademark registrations for its FIESTA vehicle. Respondent is an official Ford approved vendor. Respondent claims that it registered and developed the domain names with Ford’s approval and encouragement. As a result Respondent sought to have this dispute not handled under the UDRP, noting that it was contractual and fell outside the purview of the UDRP. The Panel reviewed the information and disagreed with Respondent position regarding the coverage of the UDRP on the facts at issue.

Complainant claims that it has established the elements outlined by the UDRP, and that Respondent’s arguments about Complainant and Respondent’s relationship do not provide sufficient reason for the Panel not to decide the case. Complainant and Respondent have provided sufficient evidence for the Panel to properly decide the dispute under the UDRP, the Panel may thus proceed with the case and consider the contentions of Complainant and Respondent.

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.

The Panel reviewed and applied the elements finding that Complaint satisfied all three. Of interesting note, the Panel reviews the concept of disclaimers in avoiding bad faith.

Complainant argues that a disclaimer posted on a website is too late to avoid confusion among Internet users. Complainant claims that Internet users are misdirected to Respondent’s website before seeing the disclaimer.  Therefore, Complainant contends that Respondent’s disclaimer does not mitigate Respondent’s bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain names. In view of the circumstances of the present case, the Panel finds accordingly that the disclaimer posted on Respondent’s website by Respondent is insufficient to prevent a finding of bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii) since it does not prevent initial confusion and may be disregarded by Internet users. See Continental Airlines, Inc. v. Vartanian, FA 1106528 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 26, 2007) (“Respondent’s use of a disclaimer does note mitigate a finding of bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii) “); see also Ciccone v. Parisi, D2000-0847 (WIPO Oct. 12, 2000) (“Respondent’s use of a disclaimer on its website is insufficient to avoid a finding of bad faith.  First, the disclaimer may be ignored or misunderstood by Internet users.  Second, a disclaimer does nothing to dispel initial interest confusion that is inevitable from Respondent’s actions.  Such confusion is a basis for finding a violation of Complainant’s rights.”).

Ultimately, the Panel was not swayed by arguments presented by Respondent. Respondent did seek a finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking, which the Panel also rejected. The domains were ordered to be TRANSFERRED.

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.

NuvaRing Can Prevent Pregnancy, But Not Criticism

Friday, June 19th, 2009

In a recent domain dispute decision of N.V. Organon and Schering Plough Corporation v. Fields Law Firm and Stephen Fields (Nat. Arb. Forum 1259266, June 16, 2009) a single member panel was faced with a dispute over www.nuvaringsideeffects.com. Complainant is the owner of the popular contraceptive device and NUVARING and owns federal trademark registrations for same. Complainant maintains a web site at www.nuvaring.com. Respondent is a personal injury law firm and maintains a web site at www.injurygroup.com. Complainant contends that the disputed domain is being used by Respondent to confuse the public and tarnish the goodwill and reputation of Complainant. The Complaint explains that when a user goes to the disputed domain it seeks to solicit customers to file lawsuits against Complainant resulting from use of the NUVARING. Specifically, Complainant contends the disputed domain includes headings such as “NuvaRing Class Action Information,” “NuvaRing Side Effects – NuvaRing Law Suit,” “NuvaRing Warnings,” “NuvaRing Blood Clot,” NuvaRing pulmonary Embolism,” and “NuvaRing Lawsuit.” Respondent contends that it is using the domain in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services, prior to notification of any dispute. Further, Respondent claims it is using the domain in a nominative fair use manner for referring to Complainant’s and their NuvaRing product. Both parties provided additional submissions which expounded on their original arguments.

Under the ICANN UDRP Policy paragraph 4(a) 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 interest 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, whether the domain was identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark. The Panel found the domain contained Complainant’s entire mark and merely added generic words such as “side” and “effects.” This element favored transfer of the domain to Complainant.

Moving to the second element, whether Respondent had any rights or legitimate interests in the domain, the Panel noted that Complainant must first establish a prima facie case. The Panel explained:

Complainants’ evidence establishes that (i) Respondents are not licensees of Complainants, nor have they received permission or consent to use Complainants’ trademark; (ii) Complainants have prior rights in that trademark which precede Respondents’ registration of the Domain Name; and (iii) Respondents are not commonly known by the trademark.  Complainants have thus made a prima facie showing that the Respondents have no legitimate rights or interest in the domain name.

The burden then shifted to Respondent and the Panel made a finding that “Respondents prove[d] that they are using it to offer legal services in connection with consumers who may have been harmed by Complainant’s product and to provide[d] information to the public about Complainant’s product.” The Panel also reviewed and applied the standard for nominative fair use argued by Respondent, and as established by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals case of  New Kids on the Block v. News Am Publ’g. Inc., 971 F.2d 302, 308 (9th Cir. 1991).  The New Kids case standard is as follows:

(1) The product or service in question must be one not readily identifiable without use of the trademark; (2) only so much of the mark may be used as is reasonably necessary to identify the product or service; and (3) the use must do nothing that would, in conjunction with the mark, suggest sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark holder.

The Panel found that Respondent did establish its nominative fair use of the mark per appellate court precedent. The Panel also addressed Complainant’s assertion of initial interest confusion, noting as follows:

This Domain Name contains nothing to suggest that the related website would be sponsored or endorsed by Complainants or anyone else seeking to promote the NuvaRing product.  The message in the Domain Name tends in the opposite direction.  The plain meaning of the words “NuvaRing side effects” is much closer to “the NuvaRing may be dangerous or have risks associated with it” than to the kind of message that would be offered by its manufacturer.  A reasonable consumer would not assume that a website by this name would be sponsored by the manufacturer of the named product.  A description of “side effects” might be included in a website sponsored by the manufacturer, but “side effects” would not likely be in the name of the website itself.

The Panel also found that Respondent’s use of a disclaimer on the web site was further evidence of their legitimate rights and interests since it immediately and sufficiently informs users of the non-affiliation. Lastly, Complainant cites to three prior domain decisions where an attorney was using domains to promote lawsuits against AIG. (See American International Group, Inc. v. Debra Speyer, FA 422815 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 7, 2005), American International Group, Inc. v. Debra Speyer, FA 481752 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 28, 2005), and American International Group, Inc. v. Bruce Levin, FA 591254 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 21, 2005)). The Panel distinguished all these cases since nominative fair use was not asserted by respondent in any of the cited cases and because “the fact that the Respondents’ use of the Domain Name here may not fit within the provisions of Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii) does not preclude them from establishing their rights or legitimate interest in some other fashion, which they have.”

Ultimately, the Panel found that Claimant did not satisfy the second element and DENIED the request for transfer. The Panel did not address the bad faith element in light of the failure to prove the second element.

Jim’s Dead, But His Music and Persona Only Live On In One Jim Morrison Domain

Monday, June 8th, 2009

In the recent decision of The Estate of Jim Morrison a/k/a Lou and Pearl Courson v. Rick Sentieri, Communication Services Group (WIPO D2009-0334, May 29, 2009), a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.jimmorrison.com . Jim Morrison was the hard partying, sultry and sexy front man for the 1960s band The Doors. Information about Jim Morrison and The Doors can be found at www.thedoors.com. Complainant represents Morrison’s estate and provided additional information about his success and credits, which included being a playwright and poet.

The Panel reviewed the three element ICANN UDRP Policy where Complainant must prove (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 in respect of the domain name; and (iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

In addressing the first element, whether the domain was identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark, the Panel first dealt with whether Complainant had a protectable mark. The Panel noted that Complainant did not have a federal trademark registration or application. However, after reviewing the evidence presented by Complaint initially and through an Additional Submission, the Panel found Complainant had established common law rights in the mark Jim Morrison. The Panel then quickly found that the domain was identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark, since it wholly incorporated all portions of the mark.

Moving to the second prong, whether Respondent had any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain, the Panel noted that once Complainant makes a prima facie case, the burden shifts to Respondent. The Panel referenced Respondent’s reply as follows:

Respondent refers to himself as “Rick Sentieri aka Jim Morrison.” He registered the Domain Name on March 1, 1997, twelve years ago. Respondent uses the Domain Name to operate a web site which sells posters of entertainers (including Jim Morrison and The Doors), and it advertises and sells other merchandise and services for third parties through links. Respondent’s (sole) reply of April 6, 2009 was an email having as the Subject Line: “please leave me alone you are making me sick and very unhappy.” The e-mail included a poem Respondent allegedly wrote and the following message:

“I have received your letter that has print outs of my web site, <jimmorrison.com>. Your organization has violated my webpage disclaimer. You must have written permission to produce copies of my web page. Please read disclaimer on the bottom of the <jimmorrison.com> (JIMMORRISON.COM 1996-2009 trademark of Rick Sentieri aka JIM MORRISON) Rick Sentieri aka Jim Morrison is a published author and singer who LIVES in Kenosha Wisconsin. His Jim Morrison.com videos have been downloaded THIS YEAR, over two hundred thousands times. Rick Sentieri aka Jim Morrison’s poetry is the best ever written. Potentially a Nobel Peace Prize winner. His poetry can be downloaded (some with his OWN voce reading his poems) here: http://jimmorrison.com/love.htm.”

Based upon Respondent’s failure to address Complainant’s allegations and evidence, the Panel took Complainant’s facts as proven and found that the second prong was satisfied. The Panel moved to the last element, whether the disputed domain was registered and used in bad faith. The Panel noted that Respondent was using the domain name to sell products and service of third parties with products bearing the JIM MORRISON mark that compete with Complainant’s products.

Ultimately, the Panel found Complainant had satisfied all three elements and granted the TRANSFER.

VOLVO: Not Safe When it Comes to Domain Names- – Reseller of Parts OK!

Friday, March 6th, 2009

In the recent decision of Volvo Trademark Holding AB v. Volvospares / Keith White (WIPO Case No. D2008-1860, February 10, 2009) a single member Panel was faced with a dispute regarding www.volvospares.com. Since everyone knows who Volvo is, we will skip over the background info about Complainant. If you want to know more about them, go to www.volvo.com. The disputed domain was registered on January 13, 1997. The domain supposedly resolved to a web site where reconditioned, used or new replacement parts for VOLVO vehicles were offered for sale.

                 volvo-2006-logo

The Panel addressed the three elements which Complainant must prove: (i) The 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 domain name; and (iii) The domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

First the Panel reviewed whether the domain was identical or confusingly similar to the VOLVO mark. The Panel explained:

The Panel has no hesitation in finding that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to those trademark rights. The Respondent appears to dispute this, contending that the disputed domain name is totally representative of what is to be found at the website. This mistakes the nature of the inquiry at this stage. What is required at this stage is a comparison of the disputed domain name itself to the proved trademark rights. The point made by the Respondent, however, may be relevant at the stages of considering rights or legitimate interests and registration and use in bad faith.

The Panel then moved to the second prong, namely, whether or not Respondent had any rights or legitimate interests in the domain. The Panel spent much of its opinion on this factor. The Panel explained that WIPO provides an overview of principles which address some of the specific concerns in this dispute. The question presented was whether or not a reseller can have a legitimate interest in the disputed domain. WIPO Overview paragraph 2.3 states:

A reseller can be making a bona fide offering of goods and services and thus have a legitimate interest in the domain name if the use fits certain requirements. These requirements include the actual offering of goods and services at issue, the use of the site to sell only the trademarked goods and the site accurately disclosing the registrant’s relationship with the trademark owner. The respondent must also not try to corner the market in domain names that reflect the trademark.

The Panel reviewed the facts and evidence presented and concluded that Respondent was offering Complainant’s goods for sale in good faith. The Panel also found that Respondent is not disentitled to sell the products, because although not all products were actually branded as VOLVO, it is understood that even VOLVO has parts in their vehicles which do not have the VOLVO mark on them. Instead as Respondent points out, many parts bear a third party mark, such as BOSCH spark plugs.  

The parties also argued about the presence and the timing of a disclaimer on the disputed domain, which stated “Volvospares.com has no affiliation with Volvo Group and makes no claim to or implication of being associated in any official business capacity in conjunction with or for such companies.” Complainant contended that the disclaimer was not put on the site until after the commencement of the dispute. The Panel found that the presence or absence of a disclaimer was not conclusive or fatal.

The Panel made the additional following observations and findings:

Considering the Respondent’s website as a whole and each specific page, the Panel finds it does not misrepresent any association with the Complainant (or the VOLVO group). It represents nothing other than what appears to be true – that the Respondent offers for sale from the website parts for VOLVO vehicles. On balance, the website does not have an appearance which suggests it is likely to be mistaken for an official or authorized site of the Complainant or the Volvo group. In the circumstances, the Panel finds that it is most unlikely that anyone would have been misled by the website even before the disclaimer was added.

Ultimately the Panel found that Respondent had rights or legitimate interests in the domain. The Panel quickly made finding regarding the bad faith prong, noting that the domain was not registered or used in bad faith. As a result, the Panel DENIED the request for transfer.

Defend My Domain Commentary: The U.S. Supreme Court, in the 1947 ruling in Champion Spark Plug Co. v. Sander, 331 U.S. 125 (1947), found that a second-hand dealer may use the trademark of the manufacturer so long as the manufacturer is not identified with inferior qualities of reconditioned parts. A full and clear disclosure by the reseller that it sells reconditioned parts is necessary.

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