Google, Inc. v Unity Electronics, Inc.
Claim Number: FA0712001120159
Complainant is Google Inc. (“Complainant”), represented by Karen
Robertson, of Google Inc.,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <googlegears.com>, registered with Godaddy.com, 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.
Tyrus R. Atkinson, Jr., as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on December 17, 2007; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on December 18, 2007.
On December 18, 2007, Godaddy.com, Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <googlegears.com> domain name is registered with Godaddy.com, Inc. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Godaddy.com, Inc. has verified that Respondent is bound by the Godaddy.com, Inc. registration agreement and has thereby agreed to resolve domain-name disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Policy").
On December 20, 2007, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of January 9, 2008 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 January 11, 2008, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed Tyrus R. Atkinson, Jr., as Panelist.
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 <googlegears.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s GOOGLE mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <googlegears.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <googlegears.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Google Inc., owns and operates the search engine website located at the <google.com> domain name. It offers users an easy-to-use interface with a number of different searching options and currently provides 60.8% of all worldwide searches on the Internet. As a result, <google.com> is one of the most popular destinations on the Internet and is consistently honored for its technology and services. Complainant owns several trademark registrations worldwide including the GOOGLE mark registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) (Reg. No. 2,884,502 filed September 16, 1998, issued September 14, 2004).
Respondent registered the <googlegears.com> domain name on February 11, 2003. Respondent’s disputed domain name resolves to a website featuring third-party link advertisements and a search engine.
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 asserts rights in the GOOGLE mark through registration with the USPTO and Complainant’s long standing use of the GOOGLE mark. Even though Respondent registered the <googlegears.com> domain name on February 11, 2003, before the USPTO registered Complainant’s GOOGLE mark on September 14, 2004, the Panel finds that the effective date for Complainant’s federal rights is the filing date on September 16, 1998. See Phoenix Mortgage Corp. v. Toggas, D2001-0101 (WIPO Mar. 30, 2001) (“The effective date of Complainant's federal rights is . . . the filing date of its issued registration. Although it might be possible to establish rights prior to that date based on use, Complainant has submitted insufficient evidence to prove common law rights before the filing date of its federal registration.”); see also Planetary Soc’y v. Rosillo, D2001-1228 (WIPO Feb. 12, 2002) (holding that the effective date of Complainant’s trademark rights date back to the application’s filing date). Therefore, Complainant’s registration of the GOOGLE mark establishes rights in the mark for purposes of 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 Vivendi Universal Games v. XBNetVentures Inc., FA 198803 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 11, 2003) (“Complainant's federal trademark registrations establish Complainant's rights in the BLIZZARD mark.”).
Complainant contends that Respondent’s <googlegears.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s GOOGLE mark. Respondent’s disputed domain name contains Complainant’s mark, adds the term “gears,” a generic term that does not add any distinctive features to make it different from the GOOGLE mark, and adds the generic top-level domain (“gTLD”), “.com.” The Panel finds that the addition of terms which are generic in meaning and gTLDs do not distinguish a domain name from a mark for purposes of 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 Pfizer, Inc. v. Suger, D2002-0187 (WIPO Apr. 24, 2002) (finding that because the subject domain name incorporates the VIAGRA mark in its entirety, and deviates only by the addition of the word “bomb,” the domain name is rendered confusingly similar to the complainant’s mark); 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); see also Busy Body, Inc. v. Fitness Outlet Inc., D2000-0127 (WIPO Apr. 22, 2000) ("[T]he addition of the generic top-level domain (gTLD) name ‘.com’ is . . . without legal significance since use of a gTLD is required of domain name registrants . . . .").
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant contends that Respondent lacks all rights and legitimate interests in the <googlegears.com> domain name. Once Complainant makes a prima facie case in support of its allegations, the burden shifts to Respondent to prove that it does have rights or legitimate interests pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). The Panel finds in this case that Complainant has established a prima facie case. 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 G.D. Searle v. Martin Mktg., FA 118277 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 1, 2002) (“Because Complainant’s Submission constitutes a prima facie case under the Policy, the burden effectively shifts to Respondent. 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).”).
Due to Respondent’s failure to respond to the Complaint, the Panel assumes that Respondent does not have rights or legitimate 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 Talk City, Inc. v. Robertson, D2000-0009 (WIPO Feb. 29, 2000) (“Given Respondent’s failure to submit a substantive answer in a timely fashion, the Panel accepts as true all of the allegations of the complaint.”). However, the Panel chooses to examine the evidence on record against the applicable Policy ¶ 4(c) elements before making a final determination with regards to Respondent’s rights and legitimate interests.
Complainant contends that Respondent is neither commonly known by the <googlegears.com> domain name nor licensed to register domain names using the GOOGLE mark. The Panel finds that without evidence suggesting otherwise, Respondent has not established rights or legitimate interests in the <googlegears.com> domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Broadcom Corp. v. Ibecom PLC, FA 361190 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 22, 2004) (“Respondent’s failure to respond to the Complaint functions as an implicit admission that [Respondent] lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. It also allows the Panel to accept all reasonable allegations set forth…as true.”); see also CMGI, Inc. v. Reyes, D2000-0572 (WIPO Aug. 8, 2000) (finding that the respondent’s failure to produce requested documentation supports a finding for the complainant).
Complainant contends that Respondent is using the <googlegears.com> domain name in
order to attract Internet users to the disputed website containing various
links to third-party websites unrelated in nature to the business which
Complainant operates. The Panel assumes
that such a practice is for the purpose of generating “pay-per-click” revenue
from Internet traffic that visits the webpage to which the disputed domain name
resolves. The Panel finds that this type
of practice is neither a bona fide
offering of goods or services pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) nor a legitimate
noncommercial or fair use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See
Black & Decker Corp. v. Clinical Evaluations, FA 112629 (Nat. Arb.
Forum June 24, 2002) (holding that the respondent’s use of the disputed domain
name to redirect Internet users to commercial websites, unrelated to the
complainant and presumably with the purpose of earning a commission or
pay-per-click referral fee did not evidence rights or legitimate interests in
the domain name); see also
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Respondent is using the <googlegears.com> domain name for the purpose of collecting click-through fees for each misdirected Internet user connected to the disputed domain name. Internet users searching for Complainant’s website will likely be confused into thinking that the <googlegears.com> domain name is affiliated with or sponsored by Complainant. The Panel finds that Respondent’s registration and use of the disputed domain name in order to cause confusion and collect referral fees for each misdirected Internet user is evidence of bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See H-D Michigan, Inc. v. Petersons Auto., FA 135608 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 8, 2003) (finding that the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) through the respondent’s registration and use of the infringing domain name to intentionally attempt to attract Internet users to its fraudulent website by using the complainant’s famous marks and likeness); see also Am. Univ. v. Cook, FA 208629 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 22, 2003) (“Registration and use of a domain name that incorporates another's mark with the intent to deceive Internet users in regard to the source or affiliation of the domain name is evidence of bad faith.”).
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 <googlegears.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Tyrus R. Atkinson, Jr., Panelist
Dated: January 23, 2008
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