Union-Tribune Publishing Co. v. Kitty LeBlanc
Claim Number: FA0709001079856
Complainant is Union-Tribune Publishing Co. (“Complainant”), represented by Vandy
Paseur, 350 Camino de la Reina, San Diego, CA 92108. Respondent is Kitty LeBlanc (“Respondent”), 20 Avenue A,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <signonsadniego.com>, registered with Moniker Online Services, Inc.
The undersigned certifies that he or she has acted independently and impartially and to the best of his or her knowledge has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding.
Sandra J. Franklin as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to
the National Arbitration Forum electronically on
On October 3, 2007, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of October 23, 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.
Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the "Panel") finds that the National Arbitration 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 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 <signonsadniego.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s SIGNON SAN DIEGO mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <signonsadniego.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <signonsadniego.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Union Tribune Publishing, is a newspaper and
media company in
Respondent registered the <signonsadniego.com>
domain name on
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 draw such inferences it 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 that 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 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 has sufficiently established rights in the SIGNON SAN DIEGO mark through registration of the mark with the USPTO pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Innomed Techs., Inc. v. DRP Servs., FA 221171 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 18, 2004) (“Registration of the NASAL-AIRE mark with the USPTO establishes Complainant's rights in the mark.”); see also Koninklijke KPN N.V. v. Telepathy Inc., D2001-0217 (WIPO May 7, 2001) (finding that the Policy does not require that the mark be registered in the country in which the respondent operates; therefore it is sufficient that the complainant can demonstrate a mark in some jurisdiction).
Respondent’s <signonsadniego.com> domain name adds the generic top-level domain (“gTLD”) “.com.” The disputed domain name is a close misspelling of Complainant’s SIGNON SAN DIEGO mark, switching the “d” and “n” and removing the space between the words. A close misspelling and the inclusion of a gTLD do not distinguish Respondent’s <signonsadniego.com> domain name. Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent’s disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). 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 Victoria’s Secret v. Zuccarini, FA 95762 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 18, 2000) (finding that, by misspelling words and adding letters to words, a respondent does not create a distinct mark but nevertheless renders the domain name confusingly similar to the complainant’s marks); see also Ty, Inc. v. O.Z. Names, D2000-0370 (WIPO June 27, 2000) (finding that the domain names <beanybaby.com>, <beaniesbabies.com>, <beanybabies.com> are confusingly similar to the complainant’s mark BEANIE BABIES).
The Panel concludes that Complainant has satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).
Under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii),
Complainant must establish a prima facie
case that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed
domain name. See
TotalFinaElf E&P USA, Inc. v. Farnes, FA 117028 (Nat. Arb.
Respondent has failed to submit a response to the Complaint. The Panel thus presumes that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the <signonsadniego.com> domain name. However, the Panel will proceed to consider all the available evidence in consideration of Policy ¶ 4(c). See G.D. Searle v. Martin Mktg., FA 118277 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 1, 2002) (“Respondent’s failure to respond means that Respondent has not presented any circumstances that would promote its rights or legitimate interests in the subject domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).”); see also Pavillion Agency, Inc. v. Greenhouse Agency Ltd., D2000-1221 (WIPO Dec. 4, 2000) (finding that the respondents’ failure to respond can be construed as an admission that they have no legitimate interest in the domain names).
Respondent’s WHOIS information does not indicate that Respondent ever was, or currently is, commonly known by the <signonsadniego.com> domain name. Complainant has not given permission to Respondent to use the SIGNON SAN DIEGO mark in any way. Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Wells Fargo & Co. v. Onlyne Corp. Services11, Inc., FA 198969 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 17, 2003) (“Given the WHOIS contact information for the disputed domain [name], one can infer that Respondent, Onlyne Corporate Services11, is not commonly known by the name ‘welsfargo’ in any derivation.”); see also Compagnie de Saint Gobain v. Com-Union Corp., D2000-0020 (WIPO Mar. 14, 2000) (finding no rights or legitimate interest where the respondent was not commonly known by the mark and never applied for a license or permission from the complainant to use the trademarked name).
Respondent’s <signonsadniego.com> domain name hosts information about affliate marketing as well as non-related third party links. The Panel finds that this is neither a bona fide offering of goods or service pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See Ameritrade Holdings Corp. v. Polanski, FA 102715 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 11, 2002) (finding that the respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to redirect Internet users to a financial services website, which competed with the complainant, was not a bona fide offering of goods or services); see also 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 State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. LaFaive, FA 95407 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 27, 2000) (“The 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’s <signonsadniego.com> domain name switches the “n” and “d” in the Complainant’s mark. The misspelling of the disputed domain name is a classic example of typosquatting. The Panel finds that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name based on typosquatting under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). See Neiman Marcus Group, Inc. v. Party Night, Inc., FA 114546 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 23, 2002) (finding that the <neimanmacus.com> domain name was a simple misspelling of the complainant’s NEIMAN MARCUS mark and was a classic example of typosquatting, which was evidence that the domain name was confusingly similar to the mark); see also IndyMac Bank F.S.B. v. Ebeyer, FA 175292 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 19, 2003) (finding that the respondent lacked rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain names because it “engaged in the practice of typosquatting by taking advantage of Internet users who attempt to access Complainant's <indymac.com> website but mistakenly misspell Complainant's mark by typing the letter ‘x’ instead of the letter ‘c’”).
The Panel concludes that Complainant has satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).
The Panel presumes that Respondent is financially benefiting from the <signonsadniego.com> domain name through click-through fees, as Respondent’s website displays various third party links. This causes a likelihood of confusion as to Complainants sponsorship. Internet users may assume the disputed domain name is connected or affiliated to the Complainant’s mark. The Panel finds this to be evidence of Respondent’s bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Am. Online, Inc. v. Fu, D2000-1374 (WIPO Dec. 11, 2000) (finding that the respondent violated Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) by displaying the complainant’s mark on its website and offering identical services as those offered by the complainant); see also Associated Newspapers Ltd. v. Domain Manager, FA 201976 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 19, 2003) (“Respondent's prior use of the <mailonsunday.com> domain name is evidence of bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) because the domain name provided links to Complainant's competitors and Respondent presumably commercially benefited from the misleading domain name by receiving ‘click-through-fees.’”).
Respondent is taking advantage of Internet users’ mistakes while typing to redirect users to the disputed domain name. Actions of this kind are an example of bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii). See Dermalogica, Inc. v. Domains to Develop, FA 175201 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 22, 2003) (finding that the <dermatalogica.com> domain name was a “simple misspelling” of the complainant's DERMALOGICA mark which indicated typosquatting and bad faith pursuant to Policy 4(a)(iii); see also K.R. USA, INC. v. SO SO DOMAINS, FA 180624 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 18, 2003) (finding that the respondent’s registration and use of the <philadelphiaenquirer.com> and <tallahassedemocrat.com> domain names capitalized on the typographical error of Internet users seeking the complainant's THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER and TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT marks, evincing typosquatting and bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii)
The Panel concludes that Complainant has 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 <signonsadniego.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Sandra J. Franklin, Panelist
Dated: November 6, 2007
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