Aetna Inc. v. Vitty Inc.
Claim Number: FA0204000110804
Complainant is Aetna Inc., Hartford, CT, USA (“Complainant”) represented by Faye A. Dion. Respondent is Vitty Inc., Taipei, TAIWAN (“Respondent”).
The domain name at issue is <aetna.biz>, registered with 007 Names, 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.
John J. Upchurch 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 25, 2002.
On April 30, 2002, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the “Commencement Notification”), setting a deadline of May 20, 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 June 13, 2002, pursuant to STOP Rule 6(b), the Forum appointed John J. Upchurch 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 <aetna.biz> domain name is identical to Complainant's AETNA mark.
Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the <aetna.biz> domain name.
Respondent registered the <aetna.biz> domain name in bad faith.
Respondent failed to submit a Response.
Since 1853, Complainant has used the AETNA mark in connection with insurance, financial and health care services. Complainant is well-known throughout the United States and the world. Complainant currently owns over eighty trademarks and service marks for the AETNA family of marks. Complainant registered the AETNA mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office as Registration Number 1,939,423 on December 5, 1995.
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on March 27, 2002. Complainant’s investigation has found no evidence that Respondent holds any trademark or service mark registrations for AETNA. Respondent is commonly known as “Vitty Inc.”
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 through registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office that it has rights in the AETNA mark. The AETNA mark is identical to Respondent’s <aetna.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”).
There is no evidence, and Respondent has not come forward to establish that it owns a trademark or service mark for AETNA or <aetna.biz>. Without this evidence the Panel is unable to find that Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(c)(i). See 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).
Furthermore, based on the famous and distinctive nature of Complainant's AETNA mark, any planned use by Respondent of the <aetna.biz> domain name, identical to Complainant's famous mark, would be an opportunistic attempt to attract customer's via Complainant's famous mark and therefore is not considered a bona fide offering of goods or services pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Nike, Inc. v. B. B. de Boer, D2000-1397 (WIPO Dec. 21, 2000) (finding no rights or legitimate interests where one “would be hard pressed to find a person who may show a right or legitimate interest” in a domain name containing Complainant's distinct and famous NIKE trademark); see also William L. Lyon & Assocs., Inc. v. Yata, FA 103043 (Nat. Arb. Forum March 21, 2002) (finding the Respondent’s “intent to trade [on] the goodwill of Complainant’s mark, by attracting Internet users confused as to the likely affiliation between Complainant and Respondent’s website” indicated the respondent had no rights or legitimate interests pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii)).
There is no evidence on record, and Respondent has not come forward to establish that it is also commonly known as AETNA or <aetna.biz>. Furthermore, based on the famous and distinct nature of Complainant’s mark, even if Respondent were to have come forward it would be very difficult to establish that is commonly known as the disputed domain name. Therefore the Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See CBS Broadcasting, Inc. v. LA-Twilight-Zone, D2000-0397 (WIPO June 19, 2000) (finding that Respondent has failed to demonstrate any rights or legitimate interests in the <twilight-zone.net> domain name since Complainant had been using the TWILIGHT ZONE mark since 1959); see also Nat’l Acad. Of Recording Arts & Sci Inc. v. Lsites, FA 103059 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 11, 2002) (finding that the famous nature of Complainant’s GRAMMY mark prevented Respondent from being commonly known by <grammy.biz>).
The Panel finds that STOP Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Based on the famous and distinct nature of Complainant’s AETNA mark it can be inferred that Respondent had knowledge of Complainant’s mark when it registered the disputed domain name. Registration of a domain name identical to Complainant’s mark despite knowledge of Complainant’s preexisting rights, is evidence of bad faith registration. See Gehl Co. v. Gehl, FA 102816 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 30, 2002) (finding that the “long standing use and historic nature” of the Complainant’s GEHL mark put the Respondent on notice as to the existence of the mark, thereby making Respondent aware that it was infringing upon Complainant’s rights); see also Samsonite Corp. v. Colony Holding, FA 94313 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 17, 2000) (evidence of bad faith includes actual or constructive knowledge of commonly known mark at the time of registration).
Furthermore, the disputed domain name is identical to Complainant’s well-known mark and therefore any intended use by Respondent will cause a likelihood of confusion as to the source, sponsorship, and affiliation of the disputed domain name. It can be inferred that Respondent intended to use this confusion for its own commercial gain. This type of intended use is evidence of bad faith pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Fluor Corp. v. Song, FA 102757 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 31, 2002) (finding that, where the Respondent’s <fluor.biz> domain name was identical to the Complainant’s FLUOR mark, Internet users would likely believe an affiliation between the Respondent and Complainant); see also Pillsbury Co. v. Prebaked Scandinavia ab, FA 102970 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 31, 2002) (finding registration of a domain name identical to Complainant’s mark to be in bad faith under STOP Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) when use of the domain name would likely cause confusion as to the affiliation between Respondent and Complainant).
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 <aetna.biz> be transferred from Respondent to Complainant and subsequent challenges under the STOP Policy against this domain name shall not be permitted.
John J. Upchurch, Panelist
Dated: June 17, 2002
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