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Posts Tagged ‘Parked Pages’

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.

Grab Your Popcorn…Cinema Drama Unfolds

Monday, February 14th, 2011

In the recent domain name dispute of Prime Pictures LLC v. DigiMedia.com L.P. (WIPO Case No. D2010-1877, February 2, 2011) a three member panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.cinemacity.com. Complainant uses the mark CINEMACITY throughout Lebanon, UAE, Jordan and Syria for movie theaters. Complainant claims rights to a Lebanese registered trademark from 2006. However, as there is some dispute over the facts presented by Complainant , in that there appears to be multiple companies that are related as presented by Complainant. The Panel noted that Complainant failed to adequately identify how these companies are related. Respondent registered the disputed domain on September 24, 1998 and has used the website as a parked page since that time.

 In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN UDRP Policy, in order to succeed in this proceeding, the Complainant must prove (i) that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which it has rights; (ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and (iii) that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

The Panel noted that there are serious questions regarding the first element. As noted above, there were multiple companies referred to in Complainants filing. As a result, the Panel explained “More seriously there is no evidence at all that any of these companies is connected with the Complainant, Prime Pictures LLC, or that Prime Pictures LLC has any right in this mark on any other basis.” The Panel chose not to seek additional proof or information from Complainant in light of its findings under the other prongs.

The Panel then reviewed the second element, and found that Respondent did not have any rights or legitimate interests in the domain. However, as many of you know, all three of the elements must be found in favor of the Complainant. In moving onto the third element, the Panel made the following findings:

In this case the Complaint contains no evidence of any use of “Cinema City” as a mark or company name prior to September 2005. The Domain Name was registered by the Respondent in September 1998. There is no evidence whatsoever that the Domain Name was registered in bad faith. The third requirement of the UDRP has not been satisfied and the Complaint must therefore be rejected.

Normally the Panels stop their analysis at this point, making findings for Respondent. However, in this case the Respondent claimed Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. Panels have ben very reluctant to make such a finding. This Panel made the following findings:

In the present case, the Complaint correctly identified that the Domain Name was registered in 1998. Given that the earliest date of any registration or use of the mark relied upon in the Complaint was in 2005, the registration of the Domain Name could not have been in bad faith on any interpretation of the facts and cases cited in the Complaint….the Panel considers it unlikely that this deficiency was overlooked by the Complainant’s counsel and more probable that it was deliberately ignored in framing the Complaint. In all the circumstances, the Panel finds that the Complaint was brought in bad faith, in an attempt at Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.

Ultimately, the Panel DENIED the request for transfer and made a finding that Complainant engaged in Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.

DISNEY Does Not Like This Cybersquatter’s ‘Offer’

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

 

In the recent cybersquatting case of Disney Enterprises, Inc. v. ll aka Joe Comeau FA1336979 (Nat. Arb. Forum, August 31, 2010) a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.DisneyOffer.com. Disney needs no introduction in this case. You should know who they are, unless you have been living in the one or two places where they haven’t been able to advertise or sell products and services. Either way, go to www.disney.com for anything your heart desires. Respondent filed a response to this dispute and presented some interesting arguments.

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 quickly dispensed with the first prong, noting that the DISNEY mark is well established and that the disputed domain contained all of the mark including the additional word “offers.”

Moving to the second prong, the Panel noted that DISNEY had met its small initial burden of proving a prima facie case that Respondent lacked any rights or interests. This included claims that Respondent was not commonly known by the disputed domain. The Panel shifted the burden to Respondent and explained:

Respondent offers no evidence which might tend to show that he has rights in respect of  the domain name pursuant to Policy ¶4(c), or otherwise. Respondent offers no explanation as to why he registered a domain name which overtly references Complainant’s DISNEY trademark and he admits he has not built a website associated with the disputed domain name. Respondent states that the webpage referenced by the at-issue domain name is merely a holding page provided by the registrar, Go-Daddy. Respondent makes no claims regarding any intended use for the domain name.  Furthermore, Respondent makes no claims that he is somehow making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the domain name.

The Panel thus found that this second prong was proven. Moving to the third prong, bad faith, the Panel made some relevant findings. First the Paenl explained Respondent failed to present any justification that he did not register the domain name for any r3eason other then the value of the mark. Additionally, the Panel found that Respondent had registered well known domain names in the past using other marks such as EBAY and CHEVY.

The Panel found that Respondent offered to sell the disputed domain to DISNEY after recieving a cease and desist letter, which was is evidence of bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(I). Respondent had argued that “If Respondent has to turn over the domain name to Complainant, it should at least in good faith have to give Respondent the renewal fees paid over the past few years.” Other interesting arguments presented by Respondent included:

Just because Complainant holds onto the name “disney” it does not have the right to squash and try to control every other holder of the word “disney” in the English speaking community or every domain name with the word “disney” in it. They own the market and brand name, but they do not own the word “disney” across the entire English language as long as those interests pose no threat or try to infringe upon their business.

Lastly, the Panel found that the disputed domain resolved to a parked site, featuring links to third parties offering competing goods and services. For all these reasons, the Panel found that DISNEY met its burden of proving all three prongs and ordered the domain be TRANSFERRED.

Rachael Ray Cooks Up A Win

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

rachaelray

In a very interesting decision, a three member Panel appears to stretch the limits of what is acceptable evidence and methodology for UDRP cases. In the case of Ray Marks Co. LLC v. Rachel Ray Techniques Pvt. Ltd. FA1319966 (Nat. Arb. Forum, July 7, 2010) the Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.rachelray.com. Living in the U.S. most of us have all seen on t.v. or heard about Rachael Ray. She maintains a website at www.rachaelray.com  Many would even think this was a slam dunk case for her, since the disputed domain was merely missing a letter. However, Respondent put up a fight and both parties provided additional submissions. As a result the Panel was faced with making some interesting findings.

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.

Some of the relevant arguments presented by Respondent are as follows:

Respondent, Rachel Ray Techniques Private Limited, is a company incorporated in India on July 23, 2009.  Respondent offers products that involve laser ray technology.  Prior to incorporation, Respondent was operated as a partnership that began April 10, 2007….The Complaint misstates the date of the cease and desist letter.  It was sent on February 24, 2010, not February 24, 2009.  This is an attempt by Complainant to mislead the Panel by creating the impression that the letter was sent prior to Respondent’s incorporation on July 23, 2009….Respondent selected the name “Rachel Ray” for its business because the daughter of the technical partner of the original firm was named “Rachel”.  The initial name for the company was going to be “Rachel Lazer Techniques”, but, for reasons related to the practice of numerology, there was a decision to switch to “Rachel Ray Techniques”.

In the decision, the Panel presented the following findings:

Respondent is the owner of the disputed domain name, <rachelray.com>, and the date of creation is September 20, 2001.  The Respondent acquired the name some time later. Respondent is a corporation organized under the laws of India on July 23, 2009, after having been formed as a partnership on April 10, 2007.

With that in mind the Panel reviewed the elements and quickly found that the domain was identical or confusingly similar. The fascinating parts of the decision came during the examination of the second element. The Panel found that the burden was shifted to Respondent to prove it had rights or legitimate interests in the domain. It stated as follows:

Respondent claims to have formed a company in April 2007, which was incorporated in 2009, to market laser-based equipment and other items.  Respondent has supplied the Panel with scads of evidence (Annexes A through W), citing its business name on advertisements, telephone listings, invoices and Indian governmental documents, to support its contention.

However, the Complaint provided evidence that the disputed domain hosted websites that offered Complainants own trademark. Respondent chalked this up to error and lack of control over third party hosting, exclaiming that they are not technical people. Armed with that argument, the Panel made the following statement.

The Panel is presented therefore with competing claims on this issue.  UDRP proceedings provide for only limited evidentiary presentations, and it is difficult for the Panel to make fine assessments as to veracity.  One tool it can employ in this regard is to examine each party’s contentions for consistency.  On this issue, the Panel finds no inconsistency in Complainant’s assertions, whereas there is marked inconsistency with respect to those made by Respondent.  Respondent’s declaration about “not being technical people” is contradicted by Respondent earlier Additional Submission reference to its “technical partner”.  Moreover, that contradiction is heightened by Respondent’s claim to run a business that offers products “using the Technology involving Laser Rays”, which suggests that Respondent’s people must possess fairly sophisticated technical expertise.

Additionally, the Panel found that the lack of proof of sales volume or revenue in connection with products was fatal. Then the Panel turned its attention to the issue of whether Respondent was commonly known by the domain. AS stated earlier Respondents company name specifically includes the domain, but the Panel did not care.

However, it has not escaped the Panel’s notice that the date of Respondent’s origination, April 10, 2007, followed hard upon the date, March 27, 2007, of the USPTO registration of Complainant’s most basic trademark, RACHAEL RAY.  Is this coincidence or design?  Though Respondent is an Indian entity, the miracle of the Internet makes knowledge of such information as USPTO registrations almost instantaneous around the globe, and the Panel must keep in mind that the initiation of the Policy is predicated on the cunning and sophistication of global cyber-squatters. As discussed above, Respondent has provided the Panel with scant evidence of actually conducting business.  Consequently, the Panel cannot conclude that Respondent is  commonly known by that name, as is necessary for application of subparagraph 4(c)(ii).  The Panel believes that that subparagraph requires more than evidence suggesting a hastily formed “paper” company which adopts a name that is nearly indistinguishable from an established trademark and, soon after formation, acquires a corresponding domain name.

The Panel quickly resolved the bad faith element of the case. Ultimately, the Panel ruled that domain 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.

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.

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.

MATTEL Races To Victory With HOT WHEELS Domains

Monday, December 21st, 2009

           hot-wheels-logo

In two recent domain name dispute decisions, Mattel, Inc. v. Bladimir Boyiko (Nat. Arb. Forum, FA1290718, Dec. 16, 2009) and Mattel, Inc. v. Domain c/o VO (Nat. Arb. Forum, FA1289791 Dec. 15, 2009) two separate three member Panels were faced with disputes over www.wwwhotwheels.com and www.hotwheels.org. Mattel is the well known toy company responsible for the HOT WHEELS die cast cars. HOT WHEELS were first sold in the U.S. in 1968. Complainant operates web sites at www.hotwheels.com and www.mattel.com. Both Respondents failed to provide a response to the complaints.

Paragraph 4(a) of the 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 the first case referenced above, the Panel recognized Mattel’s HOT WHEELS mark and had  “no difficulty in finding that the Domain Name is confusingly similar” to the mark. Mattel presented a prima facie case, which included an argument that Respondent was not commonly known by the disputed domain. Additionally, as the Panel found, Respondent was using the domain for third party link click through fee generation.  Lastly the Panel noted that the domain was an example of typosquatting. The Panel found that Respondent was involved in other UDRP proceedings and therefore was engaged in a pattern of bad faith.

In the second mentioned case, the Panel also noted that the HOT WHEELS mark was well known throughout the world and that the domain was identical to the disputed domain. The Panel found that Respondent was not commonly known by the disputed domain and that Mattel had presented a prima facie case. Lastly the Panel found that Respondent’s inaccurate or incomplete contact information was evidence of bad faith. Additionally, Respondent’s failure to respond was evidence against.

Ultimately, the Panels found in favor of Mattel and ordered the domains be TRANSFERRED.

Kate Hudson Joins The List Of Celebs Getting Their Name Back

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

      kate_hudson  kate_hudson-2

In the recent domain name dispute decision of Kate Hudson v. Fei Zhu FA1290319 (Nat. Arb. Forum, December 8, 2009) a three member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.katehudson.com. Kate Hudson is the famous actress who has been in countless movies, and according to the decision has used her name commercially since 1999.  Respondent registered the domain in 2006 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 Kate Hudson did not have a federal trademark registration for her name, but reviewed the information provided to determine if she could establish secondary meaning in her common law rights. The Panel found that she had established those rights through continuos and extensive commercial use that predated the registration of the domain.  The Panel determined that the disputed domain was identical to the KATE HUDSON mark.

Moving to the second element, rights or legitimate interests, the Panel explained that Kate Hudson made out a prima facie case under this section of the Policy. As a result the Panel concluded that since the burden shifts to Respondent and Respondent failed to provide a response, then there was no evidence suggesting any rights or legitimate interests.

In addrrssing the final element, bad faith, the Panel noted that the disputed domain resolved to a parked web site with unrelated third-party links and adult oriented links. This was found to be bad faith, in and of itself. For these reasons, the Panel’s analysis stopped there.

Ultimately, the Panel found that all three elements were shown and ordered the domain be TRANSFERRED.

Split Panel Beats Up Domainer Over “Vagalume”

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

            vagalume

In the recent domain name dispute decision of Vaga-lume Midia Ltda v. Kevo Ouz d/b/a Online Marketing Realty FA1287151 (Nat. Arb. Forum, December 7, 2009) a three member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.vagalume.com. Complainant runs a Brazilian based web site about music, since 2002, located at www.vagalume.com.br and www.vaga-lume.com.br. Respondent is a domain name entrepreneur who admits to registering domains of common or descriptive words. The disputed domain was purchased by Respondent in December 2007.

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 provided a split decision, with only two of the Panelists providing the majority opinion. In addressing the first prong the Panel explained that Complainant provided a Brazil  trademark registration certificate for VAGALUME and design. The Panel concluded that the there was letter-by-letter coincidence of the disputed domain and the mark.

The Panel next addressed the second element, whether the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in the domain. The Respondent argued that the term vagalume means firefly in Portugese. The Panel however noted that Complainant’s use of the mark is not descriptive and instead was arbitrary. Respondent claimed he registered the domain due to its high traffic, but the Panel noted he failed to provide any evidence of this traffic being a result of common nature use of the term. Instead the Panel noted that results of an Alexa.com search showed that over 91% of the visitors to the disputed domain originated from Brazil. Next the Panel addressed the actual control and use of the domain, and this is where the Panel began to chastize Respondent:

As also shown by Complainant, after having received service of the present complaint, Respondent manually modified the parameters governing the generation of ads appearing on the website at the disputed domain name, from ads almost related to music to generic ads. This shows that Respondent always could and did control the contents of his website (“pay-per-click” links), which deprives of any credibility Respondent’s contention that he did not did not select the links, and that they were auto-generated by Yahoo and Parked.com. Respondent’s manual change of the ads parameters, following his having received service of the complaint, was hidden until Complainant revealed it in its additional submission. This shows that when Respondent registered the disputed domain name he was targeting Complainant’s mark to extract income from pay-per-click links precisely aimed at Complainant’s audience and traffic. Only after having been served with the complaint, did Respondent use his ability to manually control the contents of his website at the disputed domain name, and posted texts explaining that VAGALUME means “firefly”, in an obvious attempt to justify – ex post facto – his having chosen the disputed domain name. All this does not reveal a use of the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, pursuant to Policy ¶ 4.c.i., or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers, pursuant to Policy ¶ 4.c.iii.

The Panel then moved to the final element, bad faith. The Panel explained that bad faith requires knowledge or awareness of the mark. This knowledge or awareness is a responsibility for those who own large portfolios of domains. This willful blindness concern was addressed by Respondent who claimed that he conducted a search for the trademark on the USPTO site prior to purchase. Additionally, the Respondent claimed that a U.S. resident should not be obliged to search the records of all foreign trademark offices. The Panel disagreed with this view, noting that since the domain was a Portugese word, a search in Brazil would have been necessary. The Panel went on to explain:

Additionally, the Panel notes that Respondent’s remarks that he had no knowledge of the Complainant or its trademark prior to the instant dispute are contradicted by the uncontroverted circumstantial evidence discussed above.  Respondent’s prevarication regarding his prior knowledge of the Complainant and its common law trademark, as well other apparently disingenuous statements made in his pleadings, is additional independent and sufficient grounds for finding bad faith registration and use.

The Panel does not stop the bleeding there, as they then discuss the three prior UDRP cases which Respondent lost on default. As a result the Panel stated:

While Respondent observes that in all such cases he was in default, the Panel cannot but speculate that an experienced domainer like Respondent may have considered that its case was indefensible. In any event, there is no evidence that Respondent has challenged any of these decisions before a court, as it was his right under the UDRP. Respondent cavalierly considers such cases to be a “few UDRP losses”. The Panel believes that those cases demonstrate that Respondent had engaged “in a pattern of such conduct” when he registered the disputed domain name in order to prevent Complainant from reflecting the VAGALUME mark in a “.com” domain name, which is a circumstance of bad faith registration pursuant to Policy § 4.b.ii.

The reasons for ruling against Respondent did not stop there, though. The Panel criticized Respondent for changing the parameters of the pay per click links on his web site after receiving notice of the dispute. The Panel found that this showed Respondent had control of the web site all along and that since this is an experienced domainer “it is unlikely if not absurd to find that he was unaware of exactly how the parking page worked and that he could manipulate it.”

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

DefendMyDomain Commentary: There is a very long and well thought Dissent opinion. The Panelist takes a careful approach at noting that there are issues on both sides, but that the Complainant just did not provide evidence sufficient for a finding that satisfied all the elements. The dissenting Panelist instead challenged that the decision should not be based on supposition and conjecture. Take the time to read this dissent to get an understanding of just how different Panelists can view a specific case.  We believe the Domainers are going to have a real problem with this decision, but the current UDRP system remains.

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