Commercial Investors Realty, Inc. v. Bank of New York
Claim Number: FA0112000103040
The Complainant is Commercial Investors Realty, Inc., Tucson, AZ (“Complainant”). The Respondent is Bank of New York, New York, NY (“Respondent”).
The domain name at issue is <investorschoice.biz>, registered with Register.com.
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.
Judge Harold Kalina (Ret.) as Panelist.
Complainant has standing to file a Start-up Trademark Opposition Policy (“STOP”) Complaint, as it timely filed the required Intellectual Property (IP) Claim Form with the Registry Operator, NeuLevel. As an IP Claimant, Complainant timely noted its intent to file a STOP Complaint against Respondent with the Registry Operator, NeuLevel and with the National Arbitration Forum (the “Forum”).
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the Forum electronically on December 14, 2001; the Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on December 20, 2001.
On December 27, 2001, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the “Commencement Notification”), setting a deadline of January 16, 2002 by which Respondent could file a Response to the Complaint, was transmitted to Respondent in compliance with paragraph 2(a) of the Rules for the Start-up Trademark Opposition Policy (the “STOP Rules”).
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 February 6, 2002, pursuant to STOP Rule 6(b), the Forum appointed Judge Harold Kalina (Ret.) as the single 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 STOP Rules. Therefore, the Panel may issue its decision based on the documents submitted and in accordance with the STOP Policy, STOP Rules, the Forum’s STOP Supplemental Rules and any rules and principles of law that the Panel deems applicable, without the benefit of any Response from Respondent.
Transfer of the domain name from Respondent to Complainant.
The <investorschoice.biz> domain name is identical to Complainant's THE INVESTOR'S CHOICE! mark.
Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the <investorschoice.biz> domain name.
Respondent registered the <investorschoice.biz> domain name in bad faith.
Respondent has failed to submit a Response.
Complainant, since 1981, has used it’s THE INVESTOR'S CHOICE! mark in commerce in relation to the marketing of commercial real estate. Complainant registered the mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (Reg. No. 1,371,702) in 1985. Complainant has used the mark in local, national and international real estate markets.
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on November 19, 2001.
Paragraph 15(a) of the STOP 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 STOP Rules and draw such inferences it considers appropriate pursuant to paragraph 14(b) of the STOP Rules.
Paragraph 4(a) of the STOP Policy requires that the Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be transferred:
(1) the domain name is identical to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(2) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) the domain name has been registered or is being used in bad faith.
Due to the common authority of the ICANN policy governing both the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP”) and these STOP proceedings, the Panel will exercise its discretion to rely on relevant UDRP precedent where applicable.
Under the STOP proceedings, a STOP Complaint may only be filed when the domain name in dispute is identical to a trademark or service mark for which a Complainant has registered an Intellectual Property (IP) claim form. Therefore, every STOP proceeding necessarily involves a disputed domain name that is identical to a trademark or service mark in which a Complainant asserts rights. The existence of the “.biz” generic top-level domain (gTLD) in the disputed domain name is not a factor for purposes of determining that a disputed domain name is not identical to the mark in which the Complainant asserts rights.
Complainant, through continuous use since 1981, and trademark registration has established that it has rights in the THE INVESTOR'S CHOICE! mark. The mark, THE INVESTOR'S CHOICE! is identical to the <investorschoice.biz> domain name because the omission of "the" and the apostrophe is inconsequential when determining whether or not a domain name is identical. See Chernow Communications Inc. v. Kimball, D2000-0119 (WIPO May 18, 2000) (holding “that the use or absence of punctuation marks, such as hyphens, does not alter the fact that a name is identical to a mark"); see also The Snack Factory Inc. v. Neologist Inc., FA 94660 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 26, 2000) (finding that the omission of "the" in THE SNACK FACTORY mark did not alter the fact that <snackfactory.com> was identical or confusingly similar).
The Panel finds that STOP Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
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 has not come forward with any evidence that it owns a trademark or service mark registration for THE INVESTORS CHOICE or INVESTORS CHOICE and therefore it has not demonstrated that it has rights in the <investorschoice.biz> domain name pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(c)(i). See Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce v. D3M Virtual Reality Inc. & D3M Domain Sales, AF-0336 (eResolution Sept. 23, 2000) (finding no rights or legitimate interests under the UDRP where no such right or interest is immediately apparent to the Panel and Respondent has not come forward to suggest any right or interest it may possess).
If Respondent were to use the disputed domain name it could not do so without creating an impression that it was associated with Complainant, because the <investorschoice.biz> domain name is identical to Complainant's THE INVESTOR'S CHOICE! mark. The intended use of a domain name identical to Complainant's mark to mislead or confuse Internet users is not considered a bona fide offering of goods or services pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Household Int’l, Inc. v. Cyntom Enter., FA 95784 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 7, 2000) (inferring that Respondent registered the domain name <householdbank.com>, which incorporates Complainants HOUSEHOLD BANK mark, with hopes of attracting Complainant’s customers and thus finding no rights or legitimate interests); see also State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. LaFaive, FA 95407 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 27, 2000) (finding that “unauthorized providing of information and services under a mark owned by a third party cannot be said to be the bona fide offering of goods or services”).
Respondent has not come forward to establish, nor is there any evidence on the record that Respondent is commonly known as <investorschoice.biz>. Without any evidence to show this fact, the Panel cannot find that Respondent has demonstrated rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). 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 Gallup Inc. v. Amish Country Store, FA 96209 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 23, 2001) (finding that Respondent does not have rights in domain name when Respondent is not known by the mark); see also CMGI, Inc. v. Reyes, D2000-0572 (WIPO Aug. 8, 2000) (finding that Respondent’s failure to produce requested documentation supported a finding for Complainant under the UDRP).
The Panel finds that STOP Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Based on the fact that Respondent's domain name is identical to Complainant's mark it can be inferred that Respondent registered the disputed domain name in order to attract Complainant's customers. The registration of a domain name for this purpose is evidence of bad faith pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(b)(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”); see also Pavillion Agency, Inc. v. Greenhouse Agency Ltd., D2000-1221 (WIPO Dec. 4, 2000) (finding that the “domain names are so obviously connected with the Complainants that the use or registration by anyone other than Complainants suggests ‘opportunistic bad faith’”).
Morever, because Respondent has no apparent rights in the THE INVESTOR'S CHOICE! mark it can be inferred that it registered the domain name in order to prevent Complainant from reflecting its mark in a corresponding domain name. See Peachtree Software v. Scarponi, FA 102781 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 23, 2002) (finding bad faith under STOP Policy ¶ 4(b)(ii), noting that it was reasonable to conclude Respondent registered <peachtree.biz> with the intent to prevent Complainant from reflecting its PEACHTREE mark in a corresponding domain name, given Respondent's knowledge of Complainant's mark and Respondent's lack of rights or interests in the mark).
Having established all three elements required under the Start-up Trademark Opposition Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be hereby granted.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the domain name <investorschoice.biz> be transferred from Respondent to Complainant and subsequent challenges under the STOP Policy against this domain name shall not be permitted.
Judge Harold Kalina (Ret.), Panelist
Dated: February 18, 2002
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