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Posts Tagged ‘Trademark’

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.

No Party for PARTY BOOTHS!

Friday, August 12th, 2011

In a recent domain name dispute decision, Party Booths, LLC v. Cornelius Angsuco (Nat. Arb. Forum, FA1398420 August 10, 2011) a single member panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.envypartybooths.com.  Complainant, Party Booths, LLC, owns the PARTYBOOTHS mark which it uses in connection with its photo booth rental services. Complainant also maintains a website at www.partybooths.com. The disputed domain was registered on September 9, 2009, prior to the January 13, 2010 filing date of Complainant’s trademark application.  Respondent failed to respond to the Complaint.

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 addressing the first element, the Panel found that Complainant established rights  in the PARTYBOOTHS mark and that the domain name was confusingly similar. Moving to the second element, the Panel found that respondent was not commonly known by the disputed domain pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). Regarding the offering of bona fide goods or services, the Panel explained:

The <envypartybooths.com> domain name resolves to a website whichsolicits photo booth rentals. This is precisely the same service which Complainant offers through its own website. The Panel therefore finds that Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name is neither a Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) bona fide offering of goods or services nor a Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii) legitimate noncommercial or fair use.

For these reasons, the Panel found that the Respondent did not have a legitimate interest in the domain. Moving to the final element, bad faith registration and use, the Panel recognized that the disputed domain was registered prior to the filing date and registration of the trademark. The Panel went further to explain:

Although Complainant claims that the mark had been used prior to the registration of the <envypartybooths.com> domain name, Complainant provides no evidence of such use and fails to state in what way it was used prior to its filing with the USPTO. Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent could not have registered the disputed domain name in bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii) because its registration of the disputed domain name predated the registration of Complainant’s mark.

Ultimately, the Panel found that Complainant did not satisfy all three elements and DENIED the request to transfer the domain.

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.

Fender Guitars Playing Sad Song After Losing Dispute

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

     

In the recent case of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation v. Christopher Ruth (Nat. Arb. Forum FA1333857 August 9, 2010), a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.fendercustomshop.com. Complainant Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, is the well known seller of musical instruments, amplifiers, and accessories.  Complainant holds numerous trademark registrations with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) for the FENDER mark (e.g., Reg. No. 805,075 registered on March 8, 1966). Fender maintains a website at www.fender.com. Respondent registered the disputed domain in 2003 and failed to respond to this 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.

The Panel quickly dispensed with the first prong, noting that “Based on precedent and Complainant’s trademark registrations, the Panel finds Complainant has sufficiently proved its rights in the FENDER mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(I).” The Panel found that Respondent merely added the descriptive phrase “custom shop “ at the end of the domain, which was not enough to distinguish it from the FENDER mark.

Moving to the second prong, the Panel explained that Fender must make a prima facie case that Respondent lacked any rights or legitimate interests in the domain. The Panel found as follows:

Here, Complainant claims Respondent made no use of, or any demonstrable preparations to use, the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.  However, Complainant fails to allege any facts related to Respondent’s use or provide any screen shots of Respondent’s resolving website.  The Panel finds Complainant’s assertions, without any supporting evidence or analysis, do not sufficiently establish Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the <fendercustomshop.com> domain name.  Therefore, the Panel finds Complainant has failed to make a prima facie case showing Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).

For these reasons, the Panel found that Fender failed to prove up its case, and the Panel declined to review the final element. Ultimately, the Panel DENIED Fender’s request for transfer of the domain.

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.

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.

JAGER BOMBS Are Fun And Are Protected Trademarks

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

jager

Walk over to any college campus bar and just say the words JAGER BOMB and you will likely get mixed reactions of joy and pain from the students. For years the JAGER BOMB has been a popular drink at bars across the country, and around the world. The people at Mast-Jaegermeister AG know this and made sure to get protection for this famous mixed drink. They have a registration for the JAGER BOMB mark and filed a UDRP domain dispute for the domain www.jager-bomb.com. In Mast-Jaegermeister AG v. John Marzlak FA1317337 (Nat. Arb. Forum, May 18, 2010) a single member Panel agreed with the liquor manufacturer and agreed to transfer the domain. Complainant maintains a website at www.jager.com.

The decision did highlight one relevant fact, which had respondent provided a response may have been fleshed out in more detail. The disputed domain was being used to promote the sale of Jager Bomb Shot Cups. Complainant made note of this and the Panel explained:

Respondent capitalizes on the confusingly similar domain name to attract Internet users seeking Complainant’s website to a website offering plastic cups for consumers to use with Complainant’s product.  Therefore, the Panel finds that such diversionary use of the disputed domain name for Respondent’s own commercial gain does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i), or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). 

          jager-2

There wasn’t anything too exciting or different about this decision. One side note, the domain www.jagebomb.com is parked with “coming soon” text and an info@jagerbomb.com email address. The domain has a privacy service so it is unclear whether Complainant owns it or whether it will be developed. Complainant appears to operate or at least authorize a website devoted to cups just for Jager bombs, namely www.jagerbombcups.com.

HOT RUSSIAN BRIDES Fail To Find Their Match For Second Time

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

   hotrussianbrides

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

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

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

MAGIC BRA Can’t Find Support With UDRP Panel

Monday, May 17th, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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