Morning Call, Inc. v. Denise De Brito
Claim Number: FA0111000102248
Complainant is Morning Call, Inc., Allentown, PA (“Complainant”) represented by Bruce A. McDonald, of Wiley, Rein & Fielding. Respondent is Denise De Brito, Kingstown, VC (“Respondent”).
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <morningcall.com>, registered with Network Solutions.
On December 27, 2001, pursuant to Complainant’s request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed James P. Buchele as Panelist.
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 (the “Forum”) electronically on November 16, 2001; the Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on November 20, 2001.
On November 19, 2001, Network Solutions confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the domain name <morningcall.com> is registered with Network Solutions and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Network Solutions has verified that Respondent is bound by the Network Solutions 5.0 registration agreement and has thereby agreed to resolve domain-name disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”).
On November 28, 2001, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the “Commencement Notification”), setting a deadline of December 18, 2001 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, using the same contact details and methods as were used for the Commencement Notification, the Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the “Panel”) finds that the 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 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 the Respondent to the Complainant.
The <morningcall.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant's THE MORNING CALL mark.
Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Respondent failed to submit a Response.
Since 1895, Complainant has continuously used its THE MORNING CALL mark in relation to its regional newspaper and information services. Complainant owns three registered trademarks for THE MORNING CALL in the United States. Complainant and its predecessors have spent substantial sums of money advertising and promoting the name MORNING CALL. Complainant also operates a website located at <themorningcall.com>.
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on July 18, 2001. Respondent's website offers news information services that directly compete with the services offered by Complainant. Respondent offered to sell the disputed domain name to Complainant. Respondent has engaged in a pattern of registering infringing domain names.
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 the Complainant's undisputed representations pursuant to paragraphs 5(e), 14(a) and 15(a) of the Rules.
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.
Identical and/or Confusingly Similar
Complainant, through registration and continuous use has established that it has rights in THE MORNING CALL mark. Furthermore, Respondent's <morningcall.com> domain is confusingly similar to Complainant's mark because it incorporates the entirety of Complainant's mark and merely deletes the word "the" and adds the top-level domain ".com". Deleting the word "the" is not enough of a change to create a distinct mark capable of overcoming a claim of confusing similarity. See Down East Enter. Inc. v. Countywide Communications, FA 96613 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 5, 2001) (finding the domain name <downeastmagazine.com> confusingly similar to Complainant’s common law mark DOWN EAST, THE MAGAZINE OF MAINE). Moreover, the addition of a top-level domain is irrelevant when determining whether or not a disputed domain is identical or confusingly similar, and therefore the addition of ".com" does not defeat a claim of confusing similarity. See Pomellato S.p.A v. Tonetti, D2000-0493 (WIPO July 7, 2000) (finding <pomellato.com> identical to Complainant’s mark because the generic top-level domain (gTLD) “.com” after the name POMELLATO is not relevant).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Rights or Legitimate Interests
Respondent has failed to come forward with a Response and therefore it is presumed that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. See Pavillion Agency, Inc. v. Greenhouse Agency Ltd., D2000-1221 (WIPO Dec. 4, 2000) (finding that Respondents’ failure to respond can be construed as an admission that they have no legitimate interest in the domain names).
Furthermore, when Respondent fails to submit a Response the Panel is permitted to make all inferences in favor of Complainant. See 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”).
Respondent is using a confusingly similar domain name to provide services that are similar to Complainant's services. It has been found that the use of a confusingly similar domain name to offer similar services is not a bona fide offering of goods or services pursuant to Policy ¶ 4 (c)(i). See The Chip Merchant, Inc. v. Blue Star Elec., D2000-0474 (WIPO Aug. 21, 2000) (finding that Respondent’s use of the disputed domain names is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark. Respondent’s use of the domain names to sell competing goods was an illegitimate use and not a bona fide offering of goods); see also Big Dog Holdings, Inc. v. Day, FA 93554 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 9, 2000) (finding no legitimate use when Respondent was diverting consumers to its own website by using Complainant’s trademarks).
There is no evidence on the record, and Respondent has not come forward to establish that it is commonly known by the <morningcall.com> domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Broadcom Corp. v. Intellifone Corp., FA 96356 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 5, 2001) (finding no rights or legitimate interests because Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name or using the domain name in connection with a legitimate or fair use); see also CBS Broadcasting, Inc. v. LA-Twilight-Zone, D2000-0397 (WIPO June 19, 2000) (finding that Respondent has failed to demonstrate any rights or legitimate interests in the <twilight-zone.net> domain name since Complainant had been using the TWILIGHT ZONE mark since 1959).
Respondent is intentionally diverting Internet users to its website for its own commercial gain and is therefore not making legitimate noncommercial, or fair use of the disputed domain pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See Kosmea Pty Ltd. v. Krpan, D2000-0948 (WIPO Oct. 3, 2000) (finding no rights in the domain name where Respondent has an intention to divert consumers of Complainant’s products to Respondent’s site by using Complainant’s mark); see also Vapor Blast Mfg. Co. v. R & S Tech., Inc., FA 96577 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 27, 2001) (finding that Respondent’s commercial use of the domain name to confuse and divert Internet traffic is not a legitimate use of the domain name).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Registration and Use in Bad Faith
The <morningcall.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant's mark and the Internet user will likely believe that there is an affiliation between Respondent and Complainant. Registration of the confusingly similar <morningcall.com> domain name is evidence of bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(iv). See Sony Kabushiki Kaisha v. Inja, Kil, D2000-1409 (WIPO Dec. 9, 2000) (finding that bad faith registration and use where it is “inconceivable that the respondent could make any active use of the disputed domain names without creating a false impression of association with the Complainant”).
Respondent has engaged in a pattern of registering domain names infringing upon the marks of others, it has been found that a pattern of such conduct is evidence of bad faith. See Armstrong Holdings, Inc. v. JAZ Assoc., FA 95234 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 17, 2000) (finding that the Respondent violated Policy ¶ 4(b)(ii) by registering multiple domain names which infringe upon others’ famous and registered trademarks); see also Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. v. Shedon.com, D2000-0753 (Sept. 6, 2000) (finding bad faith where the Respondent engaged in the practice of registering domain names containing the trademarks of others).
Furthermore, Respondent registered the disputed domain name in order to disrupt Complainant's business which is evidence of bad faith according to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See 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).
Based on the circumstances it can be inferred that Respondent registered the disputed domain name in order to prevent Complainant from using its MORNING CALL mark in another corresponding domain name. This behavior is evidence of bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha v. S&S Enter. Ltd., D2000-0802 (WIPO Sept. 9, 2000) (finding that “Registration of a domain name (by Respondent that incorporates another’s trademark) goes further than merely correctly using in an advertisement the trade mark of another in connection with that other’s goods or services: it prevents the trade mark owner from reflecting that mark in a corresponding domain name”).
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 the requested relief shall be hereby granted.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the domain name <morningcall.com> be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.
James P. Buchele, Panelist
Dated: January 17, 2002
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