Cavaliers Operating Company, LLC v. Lao
Claim Number: FA0708001063523
Complainant is Cavaliers Operating Company, LLC (“Complainant”), represented by
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <cavs.mobi>, registered with GoDaddy.com, Inc.
The undersigned certifies that she has acted independently and impartially and that to the best of her knowledge she has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding. Hon. Carolyn Marks Johnson sits as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically August 15, 2007; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint August 16, 2007.
On August 15, 2007, GoDaddy.com, Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <cavs.mobi> domain name is registered with GoDaddy.com, Inc. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. GoDaddy.com, Inc. verified that Respondent is bound by the GoDaddy.com, Inc. registration agreement and thereby has agreed to resolve domain-name disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Policy").
On August 23, 2007, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of September 12, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.
Having received no response from Respondent, the National Arbitration Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
On September 19, 2007, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed Hon. Carolyn Marks Johnson as Panelist.
Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the "Panel") finds that the National Arbitration Forum 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 <cavs.mobi> domain name is identical to Complainant’s CAVS mark.
2. Respondent has no rights to or legitimate interests in the <cavs.mobi> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <cavs.mobi> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Cavaliers Operating Company, LLC owns the Cleveland Cavaliers. The team was founded as an expansion team of the National Basketball Association (“NBA”) in 1970 by the Cleveland Professional Basketball Company. The ownership of the team switched hands several times starting in 1984 when it passed to Nationwide Advertising Service, Inc. and ended with Complainant’s ownership in 2005. In 1983, the Cleveland Cavaliers began using the CAVS mark, which was registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) (Reg. No. 1,309,404 issued December 11, 1984). Complainant, as evidenced through the Trademark Assignment Abstract of Title, has obtained eleven other CAVS mark registrations with the USPTO dating back to 1984 and currently operates a website at the <cavs.com> domain name.
Respondent, Lao Chu U Ma, registered the <cavs.mobi> domain name September 26, 2006. The website Respondent has placed at the disputed domain name displays hyperlinks to third-party websites and Complainant’s services. The website also advertises domain names for sale in the amount of $50,000.
Complainant sent a cease and desist letter to Respondent July 9, 2007. Respondent failed to comply with Complainant’s request.
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 will draw such inferences as the Panel 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 Complainant to 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 its CAVS mark with the USPTO satisfies its burden under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) to establish rights in the mark. See Men’s Wearhouse, Inc. v. Wick, FA 117861 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 16, 2002) (“Under U.S. trademark law, registered marks hold a presumption that they are inherently distinctive [or] have acquired secondary meaning.”); see also Vivendi Universal Games v. XBNetVentures Inc., FA 198803 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 11, 2003) (“Complainant's federal trademark registrations establish Complainant's rights in the BLIZZARD mark.”).
The disputed domain name, <cavs.mobi>, is identical to Complainant’s CAVS mark as it simply appends the registered mark with the generic top-level domain (“gTLD”) “.mobi.” The addition of the gTLD fails to create a mark distinguishable from Complainant’s CAVS mark. 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 Blue Sky Software Corp. v. Digital Sierra, Inc., D2000-0165 (WIPO Apr. 27, 2000) (holding that the domain name <robohelp.com> is identical to the complainant’s registered ROBOHELP trademark, and that the "addition of .com is not a distinguishing difference").
The Panel finds that Complainant satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).
Complainant’s assertion that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name adequately satisfies the initial burden under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) and shifts the burden to Respondent to show that rights or legitimate interests exist. See Compagnie Generale des Matieres Nucleaires v. Greenpeace Int’l, D2001-0376 (WIPO May 14, 2001) (“Proving that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name requires the Complainant to prove a negative. For the purposes of this sub paragraph, however, it is sufficient for the Complainant to show a prima facie case and the burden of proof is then shifted on to the shoulders of Respondent. In those circumstances, the common approach is for respondents to seek to bring themselves within one of the examples of paragraph 4(c) or put forward some other reason why they can fairly be said to have a relevant right or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name in question.”); see also Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, D2000-0624 (WIPO Aug. 21, 2000) (holding that, 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 failed to provide a Response in this dispute and thus the Panel is permitted to presume that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the <cavs.mobi> domain name. See Desotec N.V. v. Jacobi Carbons AB, D2000-1398 (WIPO Dec. 21, 2000) (finding that failing to respond allows a presumption that the complainant’s allegations are true unless clearly contradicted by the evidence); see also Broadcom Corp. v. Ibecom PLC, FA 361190 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 22, 2004) (“Respondent’s failure to respond to the Complaint functions as an implicit admission that [Respondent] lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. It also allows the Panel to accept all reasonable allegations set forth…as true.”). Although required to make no further analysis, the Panel examines the evidence to determine if Respondent holds rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c).
Nothing in the record, including the WHOIS information, provides the Panel with any basis to find that Respondent, Lao Chu U Ma, is commonly known by the <cavs.mobi> domain name as defined by Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Gallup, Inc. v. Amish Country Store, FA 96209 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 23, 2001) (finding that the respondent does not have rights in a domain name when the respondent is not known by the mark); see also Am. W. Airlines, Inc. v. Paik, FA 206396 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 22, 2003) (“Respondent has registered the domain name under the name ‘Ilyoup Paik a/k/a David Sanders.’ Given the WHOIS domain name registration information, Respondent is not commonly known by the [<awvacations.com>] domain name.”).
The record shows that Respondent, without Complainant’s authorization or license, utilizes the disputed domain name to display hyperlinks to Complainant’s competitors’ and unrelated third-party websites. Further, Respondent lists domains for sale at $50,000. on the website located at the disputed domain name and the Panel presumes this is for Respondent’s own commercial gain. These activities constitute neither a bona fide offering of goods or services under ¶ 4(c)(i) nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See Bank of Am. Corp. v. Nw. 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 Coryn Group, Inc. v. Media Insight, FA 198959 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 5, 2003) (finding that the respondent was not using the domain names for a bona fide offering of goods or services nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use because the respondent used the names to divert Internet users to a website that offered services that competed with those offered by the complainant under its marks); see also G.D. Searle & Co. v. Pelham, FA 117911 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 19, 2002) (finding that because the respondent is using the infringing domain name to sell prescription drugs, the panel could infer that the respondent is using the complainant’s mark to attract Internet users to its website for commercial benefit).
The Panel finds that Complainant satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).
Respondent uses the disputed domain name to attract Internet users to its site in an attempt to commercially benefit from the goodwill attached to Complainant’s CAVS mark by selling domain names for $50,000. Such activity is consistent with a finding of bad faith registration and use. Further, as it is identical to Complainant’s mark, the disputed domain name is capable of causing confusion as to the Complainant’s affiliation with the disputed domain name, which supports findings of bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc. v. Lalli, FA 95284 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 21, 2000) (finding bad faith where the respondent directed Internet users seeking the complainant’s site to its own website for commercial gain); see also CMG Worldwide, Inc. v. Lombardi, FA 95966 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 12, 2001) (finding that the respondent’s use of the complainant’s VINCE LOMBARDI mark to divert Internet users to its commercial website located at the <vincelombardi.com> domain name constituted bad faith use and registration of the disputed domain name).
The Panel also finds that Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to display links to Complainant’s competitors’ and third-party websites constitutes a disruption and is further evidence of Respondent’s bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See EBAY, Inc. v. MEOdesigns, D2000-1368 (WIPO Dec. 15, 2000) (finding that the respondent registered and used the domain name <eebay.com> in bad faith where the respondent has used the domain name to promote competing auction sites); see also Puckett, Individually v. Miller, D2000-0297 (WIPO June 12, 2000) (finding that the respondent has diverted business from the complainant to a competitor’s website in violation of Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii)).
The Panel finds that Complainant satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii).
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <cavs.mobi> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Hon. Carolyn Marks Johnson, Panelist
Dated: October 3, 2007.
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