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Posts Tagged ‘Laches’

SPORT2000 Sleeps Too Long on its Rights

Monday, February 11th, 2013

In a recent domain name dispute over the domain, www.SPORT2000.com, a single member Panel  denied a request to transfer. See Sport 2000 Brand AG v. sport2000 (WIPO Case No. D2012-2449, January 28, 2013). Complainant Sport Brand AG owns many trade marks involving the words “Sport 2000” and since 1988, has used them in the sport retail industry. Sport Brand AG claims to have more than 3,500 retail outlets in 25 countries. Complainant operates a domain at  www.Sport2000International.com. The disputed domain was registered in 1998. Respondent provided a response and was represented pro se.

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, the Panel provided a short yet instructive review of the facts.

The disputed domain name contains the word elements of the Complainant’s trade mark in their entirety. The difficulty for the Complainant in this case is that each of the trade mak registrations of which it provides evidence are for those word elements in a particular script or presentation and there is some question as to whether the Complainant has acquired trade mark rights in the combination of generic words “Sport 2000” itself. The only evidence that the Complainant offers of acquired rights in relation to that combination of generic words are: its use as part of a range of domain name registrations; and the size and extent of its business operations in which, presumably, the word combination is often used, at least verbally, without the design elements of the trade mark. Given the likely extent of that use of the word combination itself, the Panel finds, on balance, that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the disputed domain name.

As a result, the Panel found that Complainant was able to satisfy ¶4(a)(i) of the Policy.

Complainant hit a road block on the second prong, wherein the Panel noted “This task is rendered more crucial in cases, such as the present one, in which the Complainant’s trade mark consists of a combination of generic words applied to the promotion of goods or services with which they are almost automatically associated.” The Panel acknolwedged that a using a website with generic links for a PPC (pay-per-click) means can be permissble. Further, the Panel found that Complainant presented insufficient evidence to rebut Respondents assertion that it could not have known about Complainant’s rights prior to registration. Another huge problem for Complainant was the length of time it waited to bring the action. Ultimately, the Panel found that Complainant was unable to satisfy ¶4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

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

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.

Pearl Jam Wins “Ten Club” Domain For The Second Time

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

In a recent domain dispute decision of Pearl Jam, LLC. f/k/a Pearl Jam, A General Partnership v. J.S.E. Janssen a/k/a Stijn Enzo Holding BV (Nat. Arb. Forum 1262659, July 1, 2009) a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.tenclub.org. Pearl Jam is the popular and well known rock band who has been cranking out hits since the early 90’s. Pearl Jam established an authorized fan club known by the mark TEN CLUB. The band maintains a web site at www.pearljam.com and www.tenclub.net. Pearl Jam’s debut album was entitled TEN and had amazing success. Respondent replied to the Complaint stating that the domain was going to be used as follows:

Tenclub is a specific project. Respondent is in the process of setting up a church/club in which all sorts of activities will take place. The essence of the project is that its members will dedicate ten per cent of their time and money to each other.  Thus, learning that sharing will bring a better human society. That is where the name Ten club comes from. There is absolutely no financial perspective, except being able to pay for the costs of the project. Currently, Respondent is looking at buildings, the structure and the communication, hence the website.

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 addressed some procedural issues first, noting that requests were made to Respondent to provide certain documents and translations of certain documents, which the Respondent did not provide. Additionally, Complainant points out, although the Panel does not address, the fact that this domain was once the subject of a prior domain dispute. Specifically, Pearl Jam had already won a dispute over this domain in the decision of Pearl Jam, A General Partnership v. Jongcheol Lee (Nat. Arb. Forum 406483, March 17, 2005). Pearl Jam explained that the registrar did not cooperate or agree to transfer the domain. It is unclear why the transfer was not enforced.

In addressing the first element, the Panel quickly found the domain was identical or confusingly similar to Pearl Jam’s multiple U.S. and foreign trademark registrations for TEN CLUB. Most of the Panel’s decision centered around the second element. The Panel found Pearl Jam established a prima facie case, shifting the burden to Respondent. In response to Respondent’s assertions about the proposed use of the domain the Panel explained:

The Panel believes that none of these unsupported contentions of Respondent is evidence that before any notice to Respondent of the dispute, he used or made demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services according to Policy ¶ 4(c)(i). For instance, Respondent fails to show that he has posted any contents related to the purported uses of the domain name (“church/club”) on the website at the disputed domain name. Nor does he submit any affidavit or documents evidencing any preparations to use the domain name.

The Panel went further to break down Respondent’s evidence by stating:

The Panel cannot overlook the fact that in Respondent’s attachment to the email with the Response, he added the “®” symbol to the TenClub term, thus attempting to create the false impression that he owned a registered trademark. Only after this Panel requested Respondent to submit a full translation of the attachment in Dutch, it appeared that no such trademark registration had ever been granted. As a result from Respondent’s failure to comply with the request from the Panel, there is no evidence that Respondent has even applied for a trademark registration before the Benelux trademark office. Respondent’s failure to comply with the Panel’s requests of full translations of the attachments in Dutch allows the Panel to infer that such translations would not have been favorable to Respondent, pursuant to Rules ¶ 14(b).

As a result, the Panel found that Respondent failed to establish any rights or legitimate interests. The Panel also discussed the third element, bad faith. The Panel found that Respondent was extracting a financial benefit from click-through fees generated as a result of the parked web site. Additionally, the Panel noted that although Respondent claimed to never have heard about the TEN CLUB associated with Pearl Jam, the postings on the disputed domain led the Panel to infer otherwise.

Ultimately, the Panel found Pearl Jam had established all three elements and ordered to TRANSFER the domain.

DefendMyDomain Commentary:
It is unclear why or how Pearl Jam was unable to get a successful transfer after the 2005 domain decision. Regardless, it is more puzzling that the Panel made no affirmative discussion about the prior decision and the effect it may have had on the current decision.

What happens in Vegas…May not stay there!

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

In the recent decision of Norbert A. Aleman v. Crazygirls.com/Vertical Axis, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2008-1252, (October 29, 2008), a three member Panel was faced with a dipsute over the domain www.crazygirls.com. The Complainant claimed ownership of a registration for the mark CRAZY GIRLS, registered on November 20, 2001, for services of a live stage show, based on a first use date of August 1986. The Claimant maintains a domain at www.crazygirlslasvegas.com.  The disputed domain was first registered on August 8, 2001, and at the time of the dispute, was resolving to a generic landing page with automatically generated links.

The three member Panel found that the domain was identical or confusingly similar, regarding the first prong of the UDRP/ICANN policy. Regarding the second prong of the Policy, namely whether the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain, the Panel made the following observation:

[T]here is no evidence of any of the following circumstances: (i) that the Respondent has any proprietary or contractual rights in any registered or common law trademark corresponding to the disputed domain name; (ii) that the Respondent is authorized or licensed by the Complainant to use the CRAZY GIRLS trademark or to register and use the disputed domain name; (iii) that the Respondent has been commonly known by the disputed domain name.

The Panel also analyzed Respondent’s arguments that the domain was made up of two generic words and Complainant’s complaints about the Respondent’s use of pay-per-click advertising links, but ultimately the Panel found the “legitimate rights” factor to be in favor of Complainant.

Moving on to the last prong of the Policy, whether or not the Respondent registered and used the domain in bad faith, the Panel noted that Respondent’s use of a privacy service for the registration data does not, by itself, establish bad faith. In fact, the Panel noted there are legitimate reasons for using such a service.

Addressing other aspects of bad faith, the Panel also explained about:

Further, the Complainant has not identified any source of actual confusion between the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s trademark, such as links within the Respondent’s website to the Complainant’s show, or shows of its competitors. The Complainant states that it has continuously used the CRAZY GIRLS trademark since August 1986 to brand a stage show and review running in Las Vegas, and has owned the trademark registration since 2001. It has not provided any evidence of the extent of the goodwill or reputation of its trademark beyond Las Vegas, such as its own Internet use of its trademark, that might assist the Panel in inferring that the Respondent knew of or intended to profit from the CRAZY GIRLS trademark. The Complainant does not explain when it first learnt of the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name, or explain its inaction in defending its trademark during the period of nearly seven years since the Respondent’s registration.

Ultimately, the Panel DENIED Complainant’s request to Transfer.

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