First Mariner Bank v. Morty's Domains
Claim Number: FA0706001008244
Complainant is First Mariner Bank (“Complainant”), represented by Charles
F. Morgan, of Astrachan Gunst Thomas, PC,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <stmarinerbank.com>, registered with Name.net LLC.
The undersigned certifies that he has acted independently and impartially and to the best of his knowledge has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on June 14, 2007; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on June 18, 2007.
19, 2007, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative
Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of
July 9, 2007
by which Respondent could file a response to the Complaint, was transmitted to Respondent via e-mail, post and fax, to all entities and persons listed on Respondent's registration as technical, administrative and billing contacts, and to email@example.com by e-mail.
Having received no response from Respondent, the National Arbitration Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the "Panel") finds that the National Arbitration Forum has discharged its responsibility under Paragraph 2(a) of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Rules") "to employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice to Respondent." Therefore, the Panel may issue its decision based on the documents submitted and in accordance with the ICANN Policy, ICANN Rules, the National Arbitration Forum's Supplemental Rules and any rules and principles of law that the Panel deems applicable, without the benefit of any response from Respondent.
Complainant requests that the domain name be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.
A. Complainant makes the following assertions:
1. Respondent’s <stmarinerbank.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s 1ST MARINER BANK mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <stmarinerbank.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <stmarinerbank.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, First Mariner Bank, is a regional bank
Respondent registered the <stmarinerbank.com> domain name on
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs this Panel to "decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable."
In view of Respondent's failure to submit a response, the Panel shall decide this administrative proceeding on the basis of Complainant's undisputed representations pursuant to paragraphs 5(e), 14(a) and 15(a) of the Rules and draw such inferences it considers appropriate pursuant to paragraph 14(b) of the Rules. The Panel is entitled to accept all reasonable allegations and inferences set forth in the Complaint as true unless the evidence is clearly contradictory. See Vertical Solutions Mgmt., Inc. v. webnet-marketing, inc., FA 95095 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 31, 2000) (holding that the respondent’s failure to respond allows all reasonable inferences of fact in the allegations of the complaint to be deemed true); see also Talk City, Inc. v. Robertson, D2000-0009 (WIPO Feb. 29, 2000) (“In the absence of a response, it is appropriate to accept as true all allegations of 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.
Complainant’s registration of the 1ST MARINER BANK mark with
the USPTO sufficiently establishes its rights in the mark for the purposes of
Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Innomed
Techs., Inc. v. DRP Servs., FA 221171
(Nat. Arb. Forum
Respondent’s <stmarinerbank.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s 1ST MARINER BANK mark, as the disputed domain name simply omits the numeral “1” from the beginning of the mark. In addition, the addition of the generic top-level domain “.com” to the mark is irrelevant under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i), as a top-level domain is a required element of all domain names. Thus, the Panel finds that the <stmarinerbank.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s 1ST MARINER BANK mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Dow Jones & Co., Inc. v. Powerclick, Inc., D2000-1259 (WIPO Dec. 1, 2000) (holding that the deliberate introduction of errors or changes, such as the addition of a fourth “w” or the omission of periods or other such “generic” typos do not change respondent’s infringement on a core trademark held by the complainant); see also Compaq Info. Techs. Group, L.P. v. Seocho, FA 103879 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 25, 2002) (finding that the domain name <compq.com> is confusingly similar to the complainant’s COMPAQ mark because the omission of the letter “a” in the domain name does not significantly change the overall impression of the mark); see also Rollerblade, Inc. v. McCrady, D2000-0429 (WIPO June 25, 2000) (finding that the top level of the domain name such as “.net” or “.com” does not affect the domain name for the purpose of determining whether it is identical or confusingly similar).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant has the initial burden of proving that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the <stmarinerbank.com> domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). Once Complainant makes a prima facie case, however, the burden shifts to Respondent to show that it does have rights or legitimate interests. In the instant case, the Panel finds that Complainant has established a prima facie case under the Policy. See Clerical Med. Inv. Group Ltd. v. Clericalmedical.com, D2000-1228 (WIPO Nov. 28, 2000) (finding that, under certain circumstances, the mere assertion by the complainant that the respondent has no right or legitimate interest is sufficient to shift the burden of proof to the respondent to demonstrate that such a right or legitimate interest does exist); see also Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, D2000-0624 (WIPO Aug. 21, 2000) (where the complainant has asserted that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the domain name, it is incumbent on the respondent to come forward with concrete evidence rebutting this assertion because this information is “uniquely within the knowledge and control of the respondent”).
Respondent’s failure to answer the Complaint raises the presumption that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the <stmarinerbank.com> domain name. See G.D. Searle v. Martin Mktg., FA 118277 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 1, 2002) (“Respondent’s failure to respond means that Respondent has not presented any circumstances that would promote its rights or legitimate interests in the subject domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).”); see also Amercan Express Co. v. Fang Suhendro, FA 129120 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 30, 2002) (“[B]ased on Respondent's failure to respond, it is presumed that Respondent lacks all rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.”). Nevertheless, the Panel will still examine the record to determine if Respondent has rights or legitimate interests under Policy ¶ 4(c).
There is nothing in the record to suggest, and Respondent’s WHOIS information does not indicate, that Respondent is commonly known by the <stmarinerbank.com> domain name. Moreover, Complainant has not authorized or licensed Respondent to use its 1ST MARINER BANK mark for any purpose. Thus, Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Tercent Inc. v. Lee Yi, FA 139720 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 10, 2003) (stating “nothing in Respondent’s WHOIS information implies that Respondent is ‘commonly known by’ the disputed domain name” as one factor in determining that Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii) does not apply); see also Ian Schrager Hotels, L.L.C. v. Taylor, FA 173369 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 25, 2003) (finding that without demonstrable evidence to support the assertion that a respondent is commonly known by a domain name, the assertion must be rejected).
Respondent’s <stmarinerbank.com> domain name resolves to a website containing links to third-party websites, some of which are in direct competition with Complainant. The Panel presumes that Respondent receives click-through fees when Internet users click on these links. Such use is neither a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See Bank of America Corp. v. Northwest Free Cmty. Access, FA 180704 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 30, 2003) (“Respondent's demonstrated intent to divert Internet users seeking Complainant's website to a website of Respondent and for Respondent's benefit is not a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) and it is not a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii).”); see also TM Acquisition Corp. v. Sign Guards, FA 132439 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 31, 2002) (finding that the respondent’s diversionary use of the complainant’s marks to send Internet users to a website which displayed a series of links, some of which linked to the complainant’s competitors, was not a bona fide offering of goods or services).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Respondent is using the <stmarinerbank.com> domain name to redirect Internet users to a website featuring links to Complainant’s direct competitors. This constitutes a disruption of Complainant’s business and qualifies as bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See S. Exposure v. S. Exposure, Inc., FA 94864 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 18, 2000) (finding the respondent acted in bad faith by attracting Internet users to a website that competes with the complainant’s business); see also EthnicGrocer.com, Inc. v. Unlimited Latin Flavors, Inc., FA 94385 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 7, 2000) (finding that the minor degree of variation from the complainant's marks suggests that the respondent, the complainant’s competitor, registered the names primarily for the purpose of disrupting the complainant's business).
The Panel presumes that Respondent accrues click-through fees when Internet users click on the links displayed on the website that resolves from the <stmarinerbank.com> domain name. Respondent is therefore capitalizing on the likelihood that users will confuse the disputed domain name as being affiliated with Complainant. This is further evidence that Respondent registered and is using the <stmarinerbank.com> domain name in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Amazon.com, Inc. v. Shafir, FA 196119 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 10, 2003) (“As Respondent is using the domain name at issue in direct competition with Complainant, and giving the impression of being affiliated with or sponsored by Complainant, this circumstance qualifies as bad faith registration and use of the domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv).”); see also Am. Univ. v. Cook, FA 208629 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 22, 2003) (“Registration and use of a domain name that incorporates another's mark with the intent to deceive Internet users in regard to the source or affiliation of the domain name is evidence of bad faith.”).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii) has been satisfied.
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <stmarinerbank.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Dated: July 24, 2007
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