Fossil, Inc. v. Tan Kim Fong
Claim Number: FA0711001116234
Complainant is Fossil, Inc. (“Complainant”), represented by Molly
Buck Richard, of Richard Law Group,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <fossill.com>, registered with Dotregistrar.
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 December 6, 2007, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of December 26, 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 <fossill.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s FOSSIL mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <fossill.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <fossill.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Fossil, Inc., has been
marketing and selling watches, jewelry, fashion accessories, and clothing in
Respondent registered the <fossill.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.
The Panel first finds that Complainant’s registration of the
FOSSIL mark with the USPTO sufficiently establishes Complainant’s rights in the
mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Innomed Techs., Inc. v. DRP Servs., FA 221171 (Nat. Arb. Forum
Respondent’s <fossill.com> domain name includes Complainant’s FOSSIL mark in its entirety and merely adds an extra letter “l” to the end of the mark, an alteration that does not sufficiently distinguish the disputed domain name from the FOSSIL mark. Moreover, Respondent’s addition of the generic top-level domain “.com” is irrelevant to the Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) analysis, as a top-level domain is required of all domain names. Therefore, the Panel finds that the <fossill.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s FOSSIL mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Dow Jones & Co., Inc. v. Powerclick, Inc., D2000-1259 (WIPO Dec. 1, 2000) (holding that the deliberate introduction of errors or changes, such as the addition of a fourth “w” or the omission of periods or other such “generic” typos do not change respondent’s infringement on a core trademark held by the complainant); 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 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).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant has the initial burden of proving that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the <fossill.com> domain name. Once Complainant makes a prima facie case, however, the burden shifts to Respondent to show that it does have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. In this case, the Panel finds that Complainant has established a prima facie case under the Policy. 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’s failure to answer the Complaint allows the Panel to presume that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. See 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.”); see also Wild West Domains, Inc. v. Jung, D2004-0243 (WIPO May 18, 2004) (“It can be inferred that by defaulting Respondent showed nothing else but an absolute lack of interest in the Domain Name . . . . It is incumbent on Respondent to contribute to the fact-finding and if contrary to that, it rather incurs in default, there is nothing that the Panel could do to discuss in its benefit.”). Nevertheless, the Panel will still examine the record to determine if Respondent does have rights or legitimate interests pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c).
Respondent’s WHOIS information indicates that Respondent is “Tan Kim Fong,” and there is no other evidence in the record to suggest that Respondent is commonly known by the <fossill.com> domain name. In addition, Complainant contends that it has never given Respondent permission to use its FOSSIL mark for any purpose. Thus, the Panel finds that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the <fossill.com> domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Tercent Inc. v. Lee Yi, FA 139720 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 10, 2003) (stating “nothing in Respondent’s WHOIS information implies that Respondent is ‘commonly known by’ the disputed domain name” as one factor in determining that Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii) does not apply); 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 <fossill.com> domain name resolves to a website featuring links to third-party websites in direct competition with Complainant, and the Panel presumes that Respondent accrues click-through fees from these links. The Panel concludes that such use does not constitute either a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii), and further indicates Respondent’s lack of rights and legitimate interests pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). See Golden Bear Int’l, Inc. v. Kangdeock-ho, FA 190644 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 17, 2003) (“Respondent's use of a domain name confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark to divert Internet users to websites unrelated to Complainant's business does not represent a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii).”); see also 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).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
domain name resolves to a website featuring links to Complainant’s
competitors. The Panel finds that this
constitutes a disruption of Complainant’s business and qualifies as bad faith
registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See S.
Exposure v. S. Exposure, Inc., FA 94864 (Nat. Arb.
The Panel assumes that Respondent is benefiting commercially when Internet users click on the competing links contained on its website. The Panel finds that Respondent is thus taking advantage of the likelihood that Internet users will be confused as to Complainant’s affiliation with the <fossill.com> domain name, which further indicates Respondent’s bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Amazon.com, Inc. v. Shafir, FA 196119 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 10, 2003) (“As Respondent is using the domain name at issue in direct competition with Complainant, and giving the impression of being affiliated with or sponsored by Complainant, this circumstance qualifies as bad faith registration and use of the domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv).”); 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.’”).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii) has been satisfied.
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <fossill.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Sandra J. Franklin, Panelist
Dated: January 10, 2007
Click Here to return to the main Domain Decisions Page.
Click Here to return to our Home Page
National Arbitration Forum