Google Inc. v. William McNeil
Claim Number: FA0712001124298
Complainant is Google Inc. (“Complainant”), represented by Karen
Robertson, of Google, Inc.,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <googleaddons.com>, registered with Godaddy.com, 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.
Honorable Karl V. Fisnk, as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on December 20, 2007; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on December 26, 2007.
On December 21, 2007, Godaddy.com, Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <googleaddons.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 January 14, 2008, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of February 4, 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 February 8, 2008, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed Honorable Karl V. Fink, 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 <googleaddons.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s GOOGLE mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <googleaddons.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <googleaddons.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Google, Inc., is a company that offers Internet search services to Internet users. In addition, Complainant offers wireless Internet search services, software and hardware programs. Also, Complainant offers a variety of “add-on” applications that allow users to personalize their search experience. Complainant offers all of these products and services under its GOOGLE mark. Complainant registered its GOOGLE mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) on January 20, 2004 (Reg. No. 2,806,075). In addition, Complainant has registered its GOOGLE mark with various other governmental authorities.
Respondent is using the <googleaddons.com> domain name to resolve to a website that displays links to sponsored advertisements and offers Internet search capabilities.
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 registered the GOOGLE mark with the USPTO. The Panel finds that such registration is evidence of Complainant’s rights in the GOOGLE mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Expedia, Inc. v. Inertia 3D, FA 1118154 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 18, 2008) (“…Complainant asserts rights in the mark through its registration of the mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This registration sufficiently establishes Complainant’s rights in the mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).”); see also U.S. Office of Pers. Mgmt. v. MS Tech. Inc., FA 198898 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 9, 2003) (“[O]nce the USPTO has made a determination that a mark is registrable, by so issuing a registration, as indeed was the case here, an ICANN panel is not empowered to nor should it disturb that determination.”).
Respondent’s <googleaddons.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s GOOGLE mark. Respondent’s disputed domain name fully incorporates the GOOGLE mark with the addition of the descriptive term “add-ons” without the hyphen. Complainant markets add-ons for its GOOGLE search engine services and thus Respondent’s use of the term “addons” in the disputed domain name is descriptive. In addition, it is well established that the generic top-level domain “.com” is irrelevant for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent’s disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s GOOGLE mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Chernow Commc’ns, 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 Space Imaging LLC v. Brownell, AF-0298 (eResolution Sept. 22, 2000) (finding confusing similarity where the respondent’s domain name combines the complainant’s mark with a generic term that has an obvious relationship to the complainant’s business); see also Brown & Bigelow, Inc. v. Rodela, FA 96466 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 5, 2001) (finding that the <hoylecasino.net> domain name is confusingly similar to the complainant’s HOYLE mark, and that the addition of “casino,” a generic word describing the type of business in which the complainant is engaged, does not take the disputed domain name out of the realm of confusing similarity); see also Gardline Surveys Ltd. v. Domain Fin. Ltd., FA 153545 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 27, 2003) (“The addition of a top-level domain is irrelevant when establishing whether or not a mark is identical or confusingly similar, because top-level domains are a required element of every domain name.”).
The Panel finds Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant has alleged Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the <googleaddons.com> domain name. Once Complainant makes a prima facie case in support of its allegations, the burden shifts to Respondent to prove its rights and legitimate interests pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). The Panel finds that Complainant has established a prima facie case supporting its allegations. Due to Respondent’s failure to respond to the Complaint, the Panel may assume that Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. The Panel, however, will examine the record to determine if Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c). See Compagnie Generale des Matieres Nucleaires v. Greenpeace Int’l, D2001-0376 (WIPO May 14, 2001) (“Proving that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name requires the Complainant to prove a negative. For the purposes of this sub paragraph, however, it is sufficient for the Complainant to show a prima facie case and the burden of proof is then shifted on to the shoulders of Respondent. In those circumstances, the common approach is for respondents to seek to bring themselves within one of the examples of paragraph 4(c) or put forward some other reason why they can fairly be said to have a relevant right or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name in question.”); see also Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, D2000-0624 (WIPO Aug. 21, 2000) (holding that once the complainant asserts that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the domain, the burden shifts to the respondent to provide “concrete evidence that it has rights to or legitimate interests in the domain name at issue”).
Respondent is currently using the disputed domain name to resolve to a website which displays links for sponsored advertisements and offers Internet search engine services which directly compete with Complainant. The Panel finds that such use is not a bona fide offering of goods and services pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) or a legitimate noncommercial use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See Yahoo! Inc. v. Web Master, FA 127717 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 27, 2002) (finding that the respondent’s use of a confusingly similar domain name to operate a pay-per-click search engine, in competition with the complainant, was not a bona fide offering of goods or services); see also Tercent Inc. v. Lee Yi, FA 139720 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 10, 2003) (holding that the respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to host a series of hyperlinks and a banner advertisement was neither a bona fide offering of goods or services nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name).
In addition, the record and WHOIS information does not indicate that the Respondent is, or has been commonly known by the <googleaddons.com> domain name. Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Michael Smith Custom Clothiers, Inc. v. Custom Shirt Shop, FA 1109402 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 4, 2008) (“. . .other ICANN panels have held, and this Panel agrees, that in order to have rights or legitimate interests under the “commonly known” provision of the Policy a respondent must be commonly known by the domain name prior to registration of the domain name in issue.”); 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).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Respondent’s disputed domain name resolves to a website which contains links to sponsored advertisements and offers Internet search engine services that directly compete with Complainant’s services. The Panel finds that such use constitutes disruption and is evidence of bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See Disney Enters., Inc. v. Noel, FA 198805 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 11, 2003) (“Respondent registered a domain name confusingly similar to Complainant's mark to divert Internet users to a competitor's website. It is a reasonable inference that Respondent's purpose of registration and use was to either disrupt or create confusion for Complainant's business in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶¶ 4(b)(iii) [and] (iv).”); see also Hewlett Packard Co. v. Full Sys., FA 94637 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 22, 2000) (finding that the respondent registered and used the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of the complainant by offering personal e-mail accounts under the domain name <openmail.com> which is identical to the complainant’s services under the OPENMAIL mark).
In addition, Respondent is using the disputed domain name in order to commercially profit from Complainant’s goodwill in its GOOGLE mark. Respondent chose to use a domain name that is confusingly similar to Complainant’s GOOGLE mark in order to lure Internet users looking for Internet search engine services to Respondent’s disputed domain name. In addition, Respondent presumably receives commercial benefit for the sponsored advertising links contained on the website resolving from the disputed domain name. The Panel finds that this use constitutes bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Am. Online, Inc. v. Tencent Commc’ns Corp., FA 93668 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 21, 2000) (finding bad faith where the respondent registered and used a domain name confusingly similar to the complainant’s mark to attract users to a website sponsored by the respondent); see also Perot Sys. Corp. v. Perot.net, FA 95312 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 29, 2000) (finding bad faith where the domain name in question is obviously connected with the complainant’s well-known marks, thus creating a likelihood of confusion strictly for commercial gain).
The Panel finds 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 <googleaddons.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Honorable Karl V. Fink, Panelist
Dated: February 21, 2008
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