Tone Brothers, Inc. v. Satisfactory GmbH i.G.
Claim Number: FA0204000112581
Complainant is Tone Brothers, Inc., Ankeny, IA, USA (“Complainant”) represented by George Petty. Respondent is Satisfactory GmbH i.G., Trebel, GERMANY (“Respondent”).
The domain name at issue is <tones.biz>, registered with Schlund + Partner AG.
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.
James A. Crary 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 27, 2002; the Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on April 30, 2002.
On May 3, 2002, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the “Commencement Notification”), setting a deadline of May 23, 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 8, 2002, pursuant to STOP Rule 6(b), the Forum appointed James A. Crary 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.
Complainant asserts that it owns a trademark for TONE’S.
Respondent failed to submit a Response.
Complainant has submitted evidence that it is the owner of a trademark for TONE’S in Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Taiwan, and the United States.
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 that it has rights in the TONE’S mark through registration of the mark internationally. Respondent’s <tones.biz> domain name is identical to Complainant’s TONE’S mark because the omission of punctuation in a domain name is irrelevant when considering whether a domain name is identical. See Chi-Chi’s Inc. v. Rest. Commentary, D2000-0321 (WIPO June 29, 2000) (finding the domain name <chichis.com> to be identical to Complainant’s CHI-CHI’S mark, despite the omission of the apostrophe and hyphen from the mark).
The Panel finds that STOP Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant has failed to assert any grounds upon which to infer that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Furthermore, Complainant has failed to allege any bad faith on the part of Respondent, or present any evidence in this regard. As a result, the Panel is unable to find that Complainant has satisfied STOP Policy ¶ ¶ 4(a)(ii) & 4(a)(iii).
Having failed to establish two elements required under the Start-up Trademark Opposition Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be hereby denied.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the domain name Complaint be dismissed.
James A. Crary, Panelist
Dated: June 15, 2002
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