Taylor Made Golf Company, Inc. v. Highlands
Claim Number: FA0204000112468
Complainant is Taylor Made Golf Company, Inc., Carlsbad, CA (“Complainant”) represented by Tawnya Wojciechowski, of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton. Respondent is Highlands, Miami, FL (“Respondent”) .
The domain name at issue is <taylormade.biz>, registered with Iholdings.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 26, 2002; the Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on April 27, 2002.
On May 1, 2002, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the “Commencement Notification”), setting a deadline of May 21, 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 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 <taylormade.biz> domain name is identical to the mark TAYLOR MADE, in which Complainant holds rights.
Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
Respondent registered the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Respondent did not submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant was founded in 1979 and has been engaged in the development, manufacture, promotion, distribution and sale of high quality golf clubs, golf bags, and related products targeted at both the amateur and professional golf markets. Complainant sells its products under the federally registered TAYLOR MADE mark (Reg. No. 1,200,542 issued July 6, 1982). Complainant owns a number of TAYLOR MADE marks for its golf-related products.
Complainant has widely and extensively advertised its TAYLOR MADE mark through promotion and enhancement of its related golf products. Subsequently, the TAYLOR MADE mark has become well known in the golfing community and to the public at large.
Respondent registered <taylormade.biz> on March 27, 2002 and has not established a use for it. Respondent placed a contact address as “This Domain Is For Sale” in its WHOIS registration information.
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 holds trademark rights in the TAYLOR MADE mark through federal registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Complainant’s mark is identical to Respondent’s <taylormade.biz> domain name. See Princeton Linear Assoc., Inc. v. Copland o/b/o LAN Solutions Inc. FA 102811 (Nat. Arb. Forom Feb. 8, 2001) (finding that the <.biz> gTLD in the disputed domain name is not a factor and hence to be ignored, in determining whether a disputed domain name is identical to the mark in which Complainant asserts rights).
The Panel finds that STOP Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant has demonstrated its rights to and interests in the TAYLOR MADE mark. Respondent’s failure to submit a Response allows the Panel to presume Respondent has no rights or interests in the disputed domain name. See Pavillion Agency, Inc. v. Greenhouse Agency Ltd., D2000-1221 (WIPO Dec. 4, 2000) (finding that Respondent’s failure to respond can be construed as an admission that they have no legitimate interest in the domain names).
Because of Respondent’s failure to submit a Response, there is no evidence that Respondent is the owner or beneficiary of a trade or service mark that is identical to <taylormade.biz> 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).
The Panel finds that STOP Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Respondent posted the domain name <taylormade.biz> for sale on the domain name registration page. This behavior evidences bad faith registration under STOP Policy ¶ 4(b)(i). See Parfums Christain Dior v. QTR Corp., D2000-0023 (WIPO Mar. 9, 2000) (finding bad faith where the Respondent’s WHOIS registration information contained the words, “This is domain name is for sale”); see also Am. Anti-Vivisection Soc’y v. “Infa dot Net” Web Serv., FA 95685 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 6, 2000) (finding that “general offers to sell the domain name, even if no certain price is demanded, are evidence of bad faith”); 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 notoriety of Complainant’s TAYLOR MADE mark, along with the unique STOP procedure, put Respondent on notice that Complainant held rights in the mark and that Respondent had no such rights when registering <taylormade.biz>. Therefore, it can be inferred that Respondent’s registration of the TAYLOR MADE mark in its domain name was done to prevent Complainant from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name; thus, the registration was done in bad faith under STOP Policy ¶ 4(b)(ii). See Peachtree Software v. Scarponi, FA 102781 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 23, 2002) (finding bad faith under STOP Policy ¶ 4(b)(ii), noting that it was reasonable to conclude Respondent registered <peachtree.biz> with the intent to prevent Complainant from reflecting its PEACHTREE mark in a corresponding domain name, given Respondent's knowledge of Complainant's mark and Respondent's lack of rights or interests in the mark); see also Gene Logic Inc. v. Bock, FA 103042 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 4, 2002) (finding that the unique nature of the STOP Policy and the notice given to Respondent regarding existing IP Claims identical to its chosen domain name precluded good faith registration of <genelogic.biz> when Respondent registered it with “full knowledge that his intended business use of this domain name was in direct conflict with a registered trademark of a known competitor in exactly the same field of business”); see also Victoria's Secret v. Hardin, FA 96694 (Nat Arb. Forum Mar. 31, 2001) (finding that, in light of the notoriety of Complainants' famous marks, Respondent had actual or constructive knowledge of the BODY BY VICTORIA marks at the time she registered the disputed domain name and such knowledge constitutes bad faith).
The Panel finds that STOP Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii) has been satisfied.
Having established all three elements required under the STOP Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be hereby granted.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <taylormade.biz> domain name be transferred from Respondent to Complainant, and that subsequent challenges under the STOP Policy against this domain name shall not be permitted.
Hon. Ralph Yachnin, Panelist
Justice, Supreme Court, NY (Ret.)
Dated: June 6, 2002
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