Sears Brands, LLC v. Privacy Ltd. Disclosed Agent for YOLAPT c/o Domain Admin
Claim Number: FA0709001074743
Complainant is Sears Brands, LLC (“Complainant”), represented by Paul
D. McGrady of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, 77 West Wacker
Drive, Suite 2500, Chicago, IL, 60601.
Respondent is Privacy Ltd. Disclosed Agent for YOLAPT c/o Domain
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <searscommercial.com>, registered with Fabulous.com Pty Ltd.
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 September 5, 2007; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint September 6, 2007.
On September 5, 2007, Fabulous.com Pty Ltd. confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <searscommercial.com> domain name is registered with Fabulous.com Pty Ltd. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Fabulous.com Pty Ltd. verified that Respondent is bound by the Fabulous.com Pty Ltd. 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 September 13, 2007, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of October 3, 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 October 10, 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. The domain name that Respondent registered, <searscommercial.com>, is confusingly similar to Complainant’s SEARS mark.
2. Respondent has no rights to or legitimate interests in the <searscommercial.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <searscommercial.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Sears Brands,
LLC, and its affiliate Sears, Roebuck and Co. are wholly owned subsidiaries of
Sears Holding Corp. The three are
collectively known as “Sears,” which is a leading merchandise retailer and
service provider with 2004 revenues of $36.1 billion. Complainant offers its products and services
at 2,400 stores throughout the
Respondent, Privacy Ltd. Disclosed Agent for YOLAPT c/o Domain Admin, registered the disputed domain name September 29, 2004. Complainant sent a “take down request” to Respondent’s hosting company, with which the hosting company complied. Prior to Complainant’s request, the website located at the disputed domain name contained hyperlinks to third-party websites, including those of Complainant’s competitors. Since the hosting company’s compliance with Complainant’s request, Respondent has made no active use of the disputed domain name.
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.
Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) does not require Complainant to hold a USPTO registration to establish rights in the SEARS mark. See SeekAmerica Networks Inc. v. Masood, D2000-0131 (WIPO Apr. 13, 2000) (finding that the Rules do not require that the complainant's trademark or service mark be registered by a government authority or agency for such rights to exist); see also Great Plains Metromall, LLC v. Creach, FA 97044 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 18, 2001) (“The Policy does not require that a trademark be registered by a governmental authority for such rights to exist.”).
Complainant’s USPTO registration documents reveal that
Complainant’s SEARS mark was first used in commerce as early as January
1894. Further, Complainant operates more
than 2000 stores throughout the
The <searscommercial.com> domain name simply adds the generic term “commercial” and the generic top-level domain (“gTLD”) “.com” to Complainant’s SEARS mark. The Panel finds that these additions do not distinguish the disputed domain name from Complainant’s SEARS mark. Therefore, the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s SEARS mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Am. Online, Inc. v. Anytime Online Traffic Sch., FA 146930 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 11, 2003) (finding that the respondent’s domain names, which incorporated the complainant’s entire mark and merely added the descriptive terms “traffic school,” “defensive driving,” and “driver improvement” did not add any distinctive features capable of overcoming a claim of confusing similarity); see also Body Shop Int’l PLC v. CPIC NET, D2000-1214 (WIPO Nov. 26, 2000) (finding that the domain name <bodyshopdigital.com> is confusingly similar to the complainant’s THE BODY SHOP trademark); see also Pomellato S.p.A v. Tonetti, D2000-0493 (WIPO July 7, 2000) (finding <pomellato.com> identical to the complainant’s mark because the generic top-level domain (gTLD) “.com” after the name POMELLATO is not relevant).
The Panel finds that Complainant satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).
Pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii), Complainant must make a prima facie case that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the <searscommercial.com> domain name. Complainant’s assertion that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests sufficiently meets this requirement and shifts the burden to Respondent to show that rights or legitimate interests exist. See 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”); see also Clerical Med. Inv. Group Ltd. v. Clericalmedical.com, D2000-1228 (WIPO Nov. 28, 2000) (finding that, under certain circumstances, the mere assertion by the complainant that the respondent has no right or legitimate interest is sufficient to shift the burden of proof to the respondent to demonstrate that such a right or legitimate interest does exist).
Respondent failed to submit a Response to the Complaint and in such cases, the Panel is permitted to presume that Respondent lacks all rights to and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. See Bank of Am. Corp. v. McCall, FA 135012 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 31, 2002) (“Respondent's failure to respond not only results in its failure to meet its burden, but also will be viewed as evidence itself that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.”); see also Am. Express Co. v. Fang Suhendro, FA 129120 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 30, 2002) (“[B]ased on Respondent's failure to respond, it is presumed that Respondent lacks all rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.”). However, the Panel examines the evidence to determine if it shows that Respondent is able to establish rights under Policy ¶ 4(c).
After examining the record, the Panel finds no evidence, including the WHOIS information, supporting any finding that Respondent, “Privacy Ltd. Disclosed Agent for YOLAPT c/o Domain Admin,” is commonly known by the <searscommercial.com> domain name. Therefore, Respondent is unable to establish rights in the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Brown v. Sarrault, FA 99584 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 16, 2001) (finding that the respondent was not commonly known by the <mobilitytrans.com> domain name because it was doing business as “Mobility Connections”); 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.”).
Prior to Complainant’s request to Respondent’s hosting service to take down the website located at the disputed domain name, Respondent’s website displayed hyperlinks to third-party commercial websites including those seeking to compete with Complainant. The Panel finds this behavior inconsistent with 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 TM Acquisition Corp. v. Sign Guards, FA 132439 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 31, 2002) (finding that the respondent’s diversionary use of the complainant’s marks to send Internet users to a website which displayed a series of links, some of which linked to the complainant’s competitors, was not a bona fide offering of goods or services); see also Compaq Info. Techs. Group v Jones, FA 99091 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 4, 2001) (finding that the respondent had no rights or legitimate interests in a domain name that it used to redirect Internet users to a commercial website as part of that website’s affiliate program, where the resultant website contained banner ads as well as various links to offers for free merchandise, including merchandise from the complainant's competitor).
After Complainant’s request to remove the website located at the disputed domain name and the host’s compliance with the request, Respondent did not make active use of the disputed domain name. The Panel finds this further supports findings that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. See Pharmacia & Upjohn AB v. Romero, D2000-1273 (WIPO Nov. 13, 2000) (finding no rights or legitimate interests where the respondent failed to submit a response to the complaint and had made no use of the domain name in question); see also TMP Int’l, Inc. v. Baker Enters., FA 204112 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 6, 2003) (“[T]he Panel concludes that Respondent's passive holding of the domain name does not establish rights or legitimate interests pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).”).
The Panel finds that Complainant satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).
The Panel finds that Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name prior to Complainant’s take-down request to attract Internet users for commercial gain likely had as its purpose to confuse Internet users as to Complainant’s affiliation with the disputed domain name. This supports findings of bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Perot Sys. Corp. v. Perot.net, FA 95312 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 29, 2000) (finding bad faith where the domain name in question is obviously connected with the complainant’s well-known marks, thus creating a likelihood of confusion strictly for commercial gain); Qwest Comm’ns Int’l Inc. v. Ling Shun Shing, FA 187431 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 6, 2003) (“Respondent has attempted to commercially benefit from the misleading <qwestwirless.com> domain name by linking the domain name to adult oriented websites, gambling websites, and websites in competition with Complainant. Respondent’s attempt to commercially benefit from the misleading domain name is evidence of bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv).”).
The Panel also finds that Respondent’s failure to make an active use of the disputed domain name, once the host complied with Complainant’s take-down request, is further evidence that Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith. See DCI S.A. v. Link Commercial Corp., D2000-1232 (WIPO Dec. 7, 2000) (concluding that the respondent’s passive holding of the domain name satisfies the requirement of ¶ 4(a)(iii) of the Policy); see also Clerical Med. Inv. Group Ltd. v. Clericalmedical.com, D2000-1228 (WIPO Nov. 28, 2000) (finding that merely holding an infringing domain name without active use can constitute use in bad faith).
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 <searscommercial.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Hon. Carolyn Marks Johnson, Panelist
Dated: October 17, 2007.
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