Victoria’s Secret Spreads Its Angel Wings Further

In the recent domain dispute decision of Victoria’s Secret Stores Brand Management, Inc. v. Open Water Enterprises Limited c/o Louis S (Nat. Arb. Forum 1264419, June 29, 2009) a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.victoriasecretangelcard.com. We know that you do not live under a rock so we will avoid discussing the fame of Victoria’s Secret. Victoria’s Secret maintains a web site at www.victoriassecret.com.

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 noted that the domain contained all of Complainant’s mark VICTORIA’S SECRET with the addition of the descriptive phrase “angel card” on the end. There was no mention in the decision though that the disputed domain dropped an “s” from the domain name, although it generally has no significance in the domain dispute world. These descriptive words were not sufficient enough for Respondent’s use and thus Complainant satisfied the first element.

Moving to the second element, whether Respondent had any rights or legitimate interests in the domain, the Panel explained that Complainant set forth a prima facie case, shifting the burden to Respondent. The Panel found that Respondent was using the domain to divert viewers to competitors of Victoria’s Secret for commercial gain. Further, the Panel found that the Whois information associated with Respondent showed Respondent was not commonly known by the domain name.

Moving to the last element, bad faith, the Panel stated as follows:

Respondent’s disputed domain name resolves to a website that displays links to third-party websites, some of which directly compete with Complainant’s business.  The Panel finds Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name constitutes a disruption of Complainant’s business and is evidence of bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii)….Respondent presumably received payment for displaying links to Complainant’s competitors on the website which resolved from the confusingly similar <victoriasecretangelcard.com> domain name.  Thus, the Panel finds Respondent is attempting to profit from the goodwill associated with Complainant’s mark, which is evidence of bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv).

As a result, the Panel found that Victoria’s Secret proved all three elements and agreed to TRANSFER the domain.

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