CMP Media LLC v. Auntminnie.com
Claim Number: FA0112000103045
The Complainant is CMP Media LLC, Manhasset, NY (“Complainant”) represented by Sandra Grayson. The Respondent is Auntminnie.com, Tucson, AZ (“Respondent”).
The domain name at issue is <diagnosticimaging.biz>, registered with Network Solutions, Inc.
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.
James Alan Crary 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 14, 2001.
On January 8, 2002, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the “Commencement Notification”), setting a deadline of January 28, 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”).
A timely Response was received and determined to be complete on January 25, 2002.
Complainant’s additional written statement was received January 30, 2002 in a timely manner according to the Forum’s Supplemental Rule 7.
On February 8, 2002, pursuant to STOP Rule 6(b), the Forum appointed James Alan Crary as the single Panelist.
The Complainant requests that the domain name be transferred from the Respondent to the Complainant.
The disputed domain name was identical to a trademark which Complainant had used since 1979. The trademark was registered with the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office in 1981. For more than 20 years, Complainant had been using DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING as the title of an internationally published magazine which was also available on-line.
Complainant maintained on information and belief that Respondent registered <diagnosticimaging.biz> to create confusion in the market place and to trade off Complainant’s substantial use of the mark over two decades and not because Respondent made actual use of diagnostic imaging mark
To Complainant’s knowledge, Respondent had no right and/or interest in the title DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING. Complainant believed Respondents had filed for <diagnosticimaging.biz> to create confusion in the marketplace and to trade off Complainant’s substantial use. Respondent had not made any actual use of the domain name.
Appended to the Complaint was a copy of the certificate of registration issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Other items documented how the Complainant acquired the registration from the original trademark holder. There was a copy of a page from Complainant’s web site, <diagnosticimaging.com>. There was also an on-line trademark search.
The format of the Response was a business letter.
Respondent asserted that it was a leading on-line resource that provided news, educational content, and radiology information to the medical imaging community. Fifty thousand (50,000) members were said to belong, most of these were in the medical/diagnostic imaging profession in one way or another. Respondent’s interest in the words “diagnostic imaging” was in the words as they relate to and are used by members of Respondents web site.
Despite the fact that Complainant holds a trademark for the words “diagnostic imaging”, the words were descriptive and generic as used in the imaging world. A search of “diagnostic imaging” on Yahoo yielded 72 items, only two of those were related specifically to the Complainant.
Respondent began using the sponsor-match function of Yahoo in November 2000. It picked 24 terms related to the field of radiology including “diagnostic imaging”. This enabled those individuals who were searching for medical imaging information to come to Respondent’s web site so that they can find the information they sought. The terms were of interest to Respondent because it was the Respondent’s business to provide a comprehensive on-line resource for radiology information, education, news, and commerce for the medical imaging community. Respondent asserted that when the individuals type the words “diagnostic imaging” in order to search the Internet they are not necessarily doing so to find the Complainant.
Respondent maintained it had no interest in owning the trademark but in the descriptive and generic use of the term “diagnostic imaging”. While it was true that the domain name was the same as the Complainant’s mark, it was inaccurate to contend that at any time the term was used descriptively or in a generic sense that people are confused and assume they are referring to the Complainant. The term “diagnostic imaging” was integral to the field which was the business of Respondent’s members.
In summary, Respondent maintained Complainant lacked any enforceable rights in the term “diagnostic imaging” because the terms were descriptive and generic. Respondent had a legitimate interest in the domain name because the term was used to lead to <auntminnie.com>, it’s primary website. Finally, it was stated that “warehousing descriptive domain names is not evidence of bad faith”.
C. Additional Submissions
Complainant noted that the Response was submitted in the form of a letter without the certification required by STOP Rule 5 (c)(vi) which requires that Respondent certify to the best of the Respondent’s knowledge that the Response is complete and accurate, not presented for any improper purpose and that the assertions in the Response were warranted under the STOP Policy and Rules. The Response was therefore wholly inadequate and should be disregarded. Judgment should be entered on Complainant’s behalf by way of default.
Complainant and Respondent were competitors in the same general field of use since both provided news, educational content and radiology information to the medical imaging community. Complainant and Respondent had the same consumers and thus Complainant and Respondent were in direct competition. Any use of <diagnosticimaging.biz> in connection with Respondent’s business would create a likelihood of confusion and infringe on the Complainant’s trademark rights.
The fact that Respondent intended to warehouse the disputed domain name confirmed that Respondent had no legitimate interest in the domain name and that it had registered the domain name in bad faith.
Respondent was attempting to divert customers away from Complainant’s web site to its competing web site by using the sponsor-match function with respect to the words “diagnostic imaging”. This was evidence of infringement on Complainant’s mark but had no bearing on the determination of whether the Respondent had rights or legitimate interests in the domain name or that there was registration of the domain name in bad faith.
Complainant had spent considerable amount of time and money advertising and promoting DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING publications. In the last 4 years Complainant had spent an average of $174,790 on marketing expenses and $376,069 per year on circulation expenses.
Complainant had a valid and enforceable trademark in the mark “DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING” because of it’s extensive use of the mark for more than 20 years in connection with it’s magazine. In addition to it’s United States registration for the mark there were like registrations for the Benelux Countries (2/84) Canada (1/81) Denmark (12/84) and Sweden (5/86).
In 1999, a survey revealed that more people in the radiology and diagnostic radiology profession read its magazine on a regular basis than any of its competitors. Advertising revenues and advertising pages contained in the magazine were twice that of its closest competitor. For the year 2001 it’s DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING magazine earned over $4 million in advertising revenues. Its nearest competitor MEDICAL IMAGING earned $2 million. This made DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING magazine the most regularly read and most successful magazine in its field.
A .biz domain name could only be used for “bona fide business or commercial use”. Complainant’s prima face showing that Respondent lacked a legitimate interest shifted the burden of production to Respondent to show use or preparation to use the name in connection with a bona fide business or commercial use. Respondent had failed to satisfy its burden.
As Complainant’s direct competitor Respondent must have been aware of Complainant’s DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING publications. A trademark search would have revealed the trademark to Respondent since both Complainant and Respondent are from the United States and since the Complainant’s trademark registration was issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office it was fair to apply the principle of constructive notice of Complainant trademark rights.
The domain names: <diagnosticimaging.info>, <diagnostic-imaging.info>, <diaonline.info>, and <dimag.info> had all been registered to the Respondent in this case. All of the domain names are used to resolve to Respondent’s web site at <auntminnie.com>. This conduct constitutes infringement on Complainant’s trademark rights.
The Complainant owns domain names for <diagnosticimaging.com>, <dionline.com>, and <dimag.com>. The primary web site is <diagnosticimaging.com> with the other domain names resolving to the main web site. Complainant maintained that this was compelling evidence of Respondent’s attempts to divert consumers away from the Complainant’s web site. This was particularly the case with its registration of <dimag.info> since it could only reasonably stand for DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING magazine.
1. The Complainant is the owner of the trademark DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING, United States Patent and Trademark Office 1164236 issued August 4, 1981. It also possesses trademark registrations abroad including Benelux registration number 395,583 (February 1984), Canada registration number 253,654 (January 1981), Denmark registration number 4146 (December 1984), and Sweden registration number 201,074 (May 1986).
2. The evidence submitted supports a finding that Complainant’s trademark has acquired distinctiveness since first used in 1979. Complainant made substantially exclusive and continuous use of the mark for more than 20 years and has spent considerable time, money, and advertising to promote the DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING mark in print and on-line media.
3. The Complainant’s magazine over its approximate twenty-one year life has become the leading publication in the field of medical imaging in terms of number of subscriptions (31,000) and advertising revenue, twice that of it’s nearest rival.
4. Complainant conducts its on-line magazine efforts at its <diagnosticimaging.com> web site.
5. The Response to the Complainant did not comply with mandatory requirements of STOP Policy Rule 5(a)(vi) since the Response omits the mandatory certification forth in the Rule. Response was merely a letter.
6. Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect to the domain name <diagnosticimaging.biz>. This domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
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.”
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 (TLD) 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.
Regarding finding No. 3 above, Complainant sought that Respondent be treated as in default because the required certification was omitted from the Response. The certification required of Respondents under STOP Rule 5 (c)(vi) is a mandatory requirement, “The Response shall … conclude with the following statement followed by the signature of Respondent …”. Respondent certifies that the information contained in this Response … “is complete and accurate” … etc. A similar certification is required of the Complainant, STOP Rule 3(c)(xiii). But the STOP rules do not direct the Panel as to what the sanction should be for non-compliance by a Party.
The Panel favored letting the Response be considered. Conceivably a person with no legal training, unfamiliar with the STOP Policy and Rules and otherwise proceeding in good-faith might omit the certification called for by the Rule. Default in such a situation would be too drastic a remedy, since the Response could otherwise be meritorious. However, since the Rule contains the mandatory language “shall” certify that the Response is “accurate”, “complete”, “not presented for an improper purpose”, the Panel concluded that the appropriate sanction called for by the Rules would be to give the Response little weight as evidence. The Panel has discretion to do so under STOP Rule 10(d).
The certifications set forth by the STOP Policy and the Rules are the very basis on which a dispute resolution process such as this depends for its integrity. The Panel was also guided by the principle that in administrative proceedings the law favors determination of the issues on the merits, rather than on technical grounds, where possible.
The Panel concluded that the evidence established that Complainant is the owner of valid and subsisting trademark rights in the United States, Canada, Benelux, Denmark, and Sweden. This was amply documented in the exhibits submitted. The Complainant has been engaged in the publishing business since 1979 and is publisher of DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING magazine. In more recent times Complainant has developed an on-line publishing presence.
The DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING magazine has both the largest circulation and advertising revenue both much greater in comparison to it’s nearest competitor. Complainant established that by it’s commercial activity in publishing over 20 years, it’s continuous and exclusive use of the mark and by the time and money spent to advertise and promote the trademark that the mark has become distinctive. Respondent’s assertion that the trademark was purely generic and descriptive was not supported by the evidence.
It was reasonable for this Panel to conclude that the DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING mark has become famous with in the narrow field of radiological imaging publications. The Respondent admits that its business is in direct competition by asserting that it is a leading on-line resource that provides news, educational content and radiology information to the medical imaging community. Given Respondent’s efforts as competitor of Complainant, it was reasonable for this Panel to conclude that Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name with at least constructive knowledge of the existence of Complainant’s trademark.
The Respondent offered no evidence nor did it assert that it was the owner or beneficiary of a trade or service mark that is identical to the domain name Policy 4(c)(i). Respondent openly admits Complainant holds a trademark for DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING.
The Respondent did not assert nor did the evidence indicate use or demonstratable preparations for use of the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services prior to notice of the dispute. Policy 4(c)(ii). Respondent admitted it makes no use nor has it plans to use the domain name, choosing to warehouse the domain instead.
Finally, the Response does not assert nor did the evidence in any way support a finding that Respondent had ever been commonly known by the domain name. Policy 4(c)(iii). This issue was not addressed in Respondent’s letter.
It was therefore concluded by the Panel that the Respondent had no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
The Respondent since November 2000 has used the sponsor-match function to link the words “diagnostic imaging” and 23 other terms or abbreviations common in radiology so that consumers searching the Internet would be led to Respondent’s web site <auntminnie.com>. Respondent makes no use of the disputed domain name choosing instead to “warehouse” the name, asserting, “warehousing descriptive domain names is not evidence of bad faith”. The cases the Panel is aware of are to the contrary. See Georgia Golf Corp. v. The Ross Group, D2000-0218 (WIPO, June 14, 2000).
By on the one hand warehousing the domain name, which is also Complainant’s trademark, then on the other hand using the sponsor-match feature through Yahoo to link the words diagnostic imaging to the web site, Respondent appropriated not only the words “diagnostic imaging” but Complainant’s mark as well. This was for the sole purpose of leading the public seeking information to Respondent’s competing web site. In the Panel’s opinion these circumstances constituted bad faith use by Respondent.
Before leaving the subject of domain name “warehousing” such conduct has been found to be evidence of bad faith. The Panel finds that warehousing <diagnosticimaging.biz> that is not using the domain name to link net surfers to other locations is bad faith use under the Policy in this case. See World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. v. Ringside Collectibles, D2000-1306 (WIPO, Jan. 24, 2001); Telstra Corp. Ltd. v. Nuclear Marshmallows, D2000-0003 (WIPO, Feb. 18, 2000); CMG Worldwide, Inc. v. Naughtya Page, FA 95641 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 8, 2000).
Respondent and Complainant are direct competitors in the relatively narrow field of medical imaging publications. Given the Complainant’s stature in that field over more than two decades in which the field has developed and the wide audience it’s publication enjoyed within that community the Panel concluded that the Respondent had constructive notice if not actual notice of the Complainant’s trademark rights. See Kate Spade, LLC v. Darmstadter Designs, D2001-1384 (WIPO Jan. 3, 2002). STOP Policy (2.) states “It is your (Respondent’s) responsibility to determine whether your domain name registration infringes or violates someone else’s rights”.
Despite knowing of Complainant’s trademark rights, Respondent registered the domain name for the sole purpose of “warehousing” it. The Panel concluded that the Respondent registered the domain name in order to prevent the Complainant from using the domain name Policy 4(b)(ii) and to disrupt the business of the Complainant, it’s direct competitor Policy 4(b)(iii).
The Panel concluded there is evidence of bad faith not specifically enumerated under Policy 4(b) subsections (i) to (iv). Respondent registered the domain name <diagnosticimaging.info>, <diagnostic-imaging.info>, <dionline.info>, and <dimag.info>. These registrations in themselves were evidence of a pattern of bad faith registrations aimed at diverting Complainants customers and the public to Respondents competing web site, in violation of Complainant’s trademark rights. All of the domain names are used to resolve to Respondents <auntminnie.com> web site which is in direct competition with Complainant’s own on-line efforts.
It was the Panel’s conclusion that the evidence supported findings in favor of the Complainant on the required elements under the STOP Policy.
The Panel directs that the domain name <diagnosticimaging.biz> be transferred to the Complainant. No subsequent challenges under the STOP Policy against this domain name shall be permitted.
James Alan Crary, Panelist
Dated: February 27, 2002
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