Colgate-Palmolive Company v. International Newcastle
Claim Number: FA0204000110803
Complainant is Colgate-Palmolive Company, New York, NY (“Complainant”) represented by Bret I Parker. Respondent is International Newcastle, Miami, FL (“Respondent”).
The domain name at issue is <hills.biz>, registered with IHoldings.com, Inc. d/b/a DotRegistrar.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.
Hon. Ralph Yachnin 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 April 24, 2002; the Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on April 24, 2002.
On May 13, 2002, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the “Commencement Notification”), setting a deadline of June 3, 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 July 5, 2002, pursuant to STOP Rule 6(b), the Forum appointed Hon. Ralph Yachnin 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 <hills.biz> domain name is identical to Complainant's HILL’S mark.
Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the <hills.biz> domain name.
Respondent registered the <hills.biz> domain name in bad faith.
Respondent failed to respond.
Complainant owns several trademark registrations for HILL’S in relation to pet food products. Complainant’s HILL’S mark is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office as Registration Numbers 955,342 and 2,060,554.
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on March 27, 2002. Complainant’s investigation has found evidence that Respondent registered the disputed domain in order to sell it, including the words “THIS DOMAIN IS FOR SALE,” in the address line of its registration information. Respondent is not the owner of any trademarks or service marks for HILL’S anywhere in the world.
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 has established that it has rights to the HILL’S mark through registration and continuous use. The <hills.biz> domain name is identical to Complainant’s HILL’S mark because it is impossible to include an apostrophe in a domain name, therefore the omission of an apostrophe in a domain name is insignificant when determining whether 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 Commercial Investors Realty v. Bank of New York, FA 103040 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 18, 2002) (finding the Complainant’s THE INVESTOR’S CHOICE! mark to be identical to the <investorschoice.biz> domain name).
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 come forward with no evidence to prove that it has a trademark or service mark for HILL’S or <hills.biz> anywhere in the world. Therefore Respondent has failed to establish that it has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed 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); see also Nat’l Acad. Of Recording Arts & Sci Inc. v. Lsites, FA 103059 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 11, 2002) (finding that, because Respondent did not come forward with a Response, the Panel could infer that it had no trademark or service marks identical to <grammy.biz> and therefore had no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name).
Based on the fact that Respondent listed the domain name for sale on its registration information it can be inferred that Respondent’s primary purpose for registering the domain name was to sell it. The sale of a domain name is not considered to be a bona fide offering of goods or services pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Stork, D2000-0628 (WIPO Aug. 11, 2000) (finding Respondent’s conduct purporting to sell domain name suggests it has no legitimate use); see also Hewlett-Packard Co. v. High Performance Networks, Inc., FA 95083 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 31, 2000) (finding no rights or legitimate interests where the Respondent registered the domain name with the intention of selling the domain name).
There is no evidence on the record that suggests that Respondent is commonly known by any other name than International Newcastle. Therefore Respondent has failed to establish that it is commonly known as HILL’S or <hills.biz> 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).
The Panel finds that STOP Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
The registration of a domain name for the primary purpose of selling, renting or transferring that domain name is considered to be bad faith registration and use pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(b)(i). Based on Respondent’s listing of the domain name for sale in its domain name registration information, it can be inferred that Respondent registered the disputed domain name in order to sell it, which constitutes bad faith. See Wembley Nat’l Stadium Ltd. v. Thomson, D2000-1233 (WIPO Nov. 16, 2000) (finding bad faith based on the apparent willingness of the Respondent to sell the domain name in issue from the outset, albeit not at a price reflecting only the costs of registering and maintaining the name); see also Microsoft Corp. v. Mehrotra, D2000-0053 (WIPO Apr. 10, 2000) (finding bad faith where that Respondent registered the domain name for the purpose of selling it, as revealed by the name the Respondent chose for the registrant, “If you want this domain name, please contact me”).
The Panel finds that STOP Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii) has been satisfied.
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 <hills.biz> be transferred from Respondent to Complainant and subsequent challenges under the STOP Policy against this domain name shall not be permitted.
Hon. Ralph Yachnin, Panelist
Justice, Supreme Court, NY (Ret.)
Dated: July 9, 2002
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