The Prudential Insurance Company of America v. Pru.net
Claim Number: FA0111000102493
Complainant is The Prudential Insurance Company of America, Newark, NJ (“Complainant”) represented by Sue J. Nam, of The Prudential Insurance Company of America. Respondent is Pru.net, Yerevan, ARMENIA (“Respondent”).
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <pru.net>, registered with Alldomains.com.
The undersigned certifies that she has acted independently and impartially and to the best of her knowledge, has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding.
Sandra Franklin as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum (the “Forum”) electronically on November 21, 2001; the Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on November 23, 2001.
On November 28, 2001, Alldomains.com confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the domain name <pru.net> is registered with Alldomains.com and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Alldomains.com has verified that Respondent is bound by the Alldomains.com 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 29, 2001, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the “Commencement Notification”), setting a deadline of December 19, 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.
On December 31, 2001, pursuant to Complainant’s request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed Sandra Franklin as Panelist.
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 <pru.net> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant's PRUDENTIAL and PRU marks.
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.
Complainant has used the PRUDENTIAL mark for 125 years. Complainant has trademark registrations for the mark in over 50 countries world wide including 100 U.S. registrations. Complainant also owns an entire family of PRU marks including PRUNET, Trademark Registration No. 1,343,273 and PRUNETWORK, Trademark Registration No. 1,814,053.
Complainant uses its PRU marks in a variety of domain names including: <prubank.com>, <prufn.com>, <pru.com.tw>, <pru.com.jp>, <pru-1.com>, <2pru.com>, <pruweb.com>, <prunet.com>, and <prurealty.com>. Complainant's use of the PRU mark on the Internet and extensively in commerce has given the mark substantial goodwill and consumers associate it with the Complainant.
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on June 30, 2001. Respondent is using the domain as a pornography website. Furthermore Respondent, after receiving a cease and desist letter, expanded the website and began to explicitly offer the domain name for sale. If the Internet user clicks on the link on Respondent's website that says "Click Here to Buy This Domain Name" the user reaches a screen that says "Any offer Below $550.00 USD Will Be Ignored!" Respondent is also known as SEGOD and engages in the practice of registering infringing domain names and attempting to sell them for profit.
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 extensive use and registration has established that it has rights in the PRUDENTIAL and PRU marks. Furthermore, the Respondent's <pru.net> domain name is identical to Complainant's PRU mark because it incorporates the entirety of Complainant's mark and merely adds the top-level domain ".net". The addition of a top-level domain indicator is not enough to defeat a claim of identical or confusing similarity. See 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), see also Little Six, Inc., v. Domain For Sale, FA 96967 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 30, 2001) (finding that <mysticlake.net> is plainly identical to Complainant’s MYSTIC LAKE trademark and service mark).
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's use of a domain name identical to Complainant's mark for a website with sexually explicit material is not considered a bona fide offering of goods and services pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(i). See MatchNet plc v. MAC Trading, D2000-0205 (WIPO May 11, 2000) (finding that it is not a bona fide offering of goods or services to use a domain name for commercial gain by attracting Internet users to third party sites offering sexually explicit and pornographic material, where such use is calculated to mislead consumers and tarnish the Complainant’s mark). Furthermore, Respondent has used the disputed domain name for a pornographic website. It has been found that this type of use does not create rights or legitimate interests. See National Football League Prop., Inc., et al. v. One Sex Entm't. Co., D2000-0118 (WIPO Apr. 17, 2000) (finding that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain names "chargergirls.com" and "chargergirls.net" where the Respondent linked these domain names to its pornographic website); see also Brown & Bigelow, Inc. v. Rodela, FA 96466 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 5, 2001) (finding that infringing on another's well known mark to provide a link to a pornographic site is not a legitimate or fair use).
There is no evidence on the record, and Respondent has not come forward to establish that it is commonly known by the <pru.net> 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).
Moreover, based on the fame of Complainant's PRUDENTIAL and PRU marks it would be very difficult for Respondent to show that it had rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Any use by Respondent of the <pru.net> domain name, confusingly similar to Complainant's famous mark, would be an opportunistic attempt to attract customer's via Complainant's famous mark. See Nike, Inc. v. B. B. de Boer, D2000-1397 (WIPO Dec. 21, 2000) (finding no rights or legitimate interests where one “would be hard pressed to find a person who may show a right or legitimate interest” in a domain name containing Complainant's distinct and famous NIKE trademark).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Registration and Use in Bad Faith
The <pru.net> domain name is identical to Complainant's mark and the Internet user will likely believe that there is an affiliation between Respondent and Complainant. Registration of the <pru.net> domain name despite it being identical 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”).
Furthermore, because of the famous and distinctive nature of Complainant's PRUDENTIAL and PRU marks, Respondent is thought to have been on notice of the existence of Complainant's mark at the time Respondent registered the infringing <pru.net> domain name. See Samsonite Corp. v. Colony Holding, FA 94313 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 17, 2000) (evidence of bad faith includes actual or constructive knowledge of commonly known mark at the time of registration); see also Victoria's Secret et al v. Hardin, FA 96694 (Nat Arb. Forum Mar. 31, 2001) (finding that, in light of the notoriety of Complainants' famous marks, Respondent had actual or constructive knowledge of the BODY BY VICTORIA marks at the time she registered the disputed domain name and such knowledge constitutes bad faith).
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).
Respondent has linked the identical <pru.net> domain name to an adult content website. This conduct is evidence of bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See MatchNet plc. v. MAC Trading, D2000-0205 (WIPO May 11, 2000) (finding that association of a confusingly similar domain name with a pornographic website can constitute bad faith); see also Youtv, Inc. v. Alemdar, FA 94243 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 25, 2000) (finding bad faith where Respondent attracted users to his website for commercial gain and linked his website to pornographic websites); see also CCA Indus., Inc. v. Dailey, D2000-0148 (WIPO Apr. 26, 2000) (finding that “this association with a pornographic web site can itself constitute 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 the requested relief shall be hereby granted.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the domain name <pru.net> be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.
Sandra Franklin, Panelist
Dated: January 11, 2002
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