America Online, Inc. v. Markus Koelmel
Claim Number: FA0204000112604
Complainant is America Online, Inc., Dulles, VA, USA (“Complainant”) represented by James R. Davis, II, of Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn. Respondent is Markus Koelmel, Musterstadt, GERMANY (“Respondent”).
The domain name at issue is <icq.biz>, registered with Secura GMBH.
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.
John J. Upchurch 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 25, 2002, pursuant to STOP Rule 6(b), the Forum appointed John J. Upchurch 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 <icq.biz> domain name is identical to Complainant's ICQ mark.
Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the <icq.biz> domain name.
Respondent registered the <icq.biz> domain name in bad faith.
Respondent failed to submit a Response.
Complainant registered its ICQ mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office as Registration Number 2,411,657, and in Germany as Registration Number 39859180. The mark is used in connection with the advertising and promotion of various products and services including the ICQ online communications service. Complainant also registered and operates <icq.com>. Complainant’s Internet service has over 120 million registered users worldwide.
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on March 27, 2002. Respondent is not licensed by Complainant to use the ICQ mark. When Complainant requested Respondent to transfer the domain name to Complainant, Respondent demanded that Complainant pay ten times the domain name registration fee.
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 ICQ mark through registration in the United States and Germany. Respondent’s <icq.biz> domain name is identical to Complainant’s ICQ mark.
The Panel finds that STOP Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Furthermore, when Respondent fails to submit a Response the Panel is permitted to make all inferences in favor of Complainant. See 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”).
Respondent has not come forward, and there is no evidence on record to prove that Respondent owns a trademark or service mark for ICQ or <icq.biz>. Without this evidence Respondent has not established that it has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(c)(i). See 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).
Based on the fame of Complainant’s mark it may be inferred that Respondent intended to use the disputed domain name in order to attract Complainant’s customers to Respondent’s website by creating a likelihood of confusion as to the source, sponsorship, and affiliation of <icq.biz>. This type of use is not considered to be a bona fide offering of goods and services pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See William L. Lyon & Assocs., Inc. v. Yata, FA 103043 (Nat. Arb. Forum March 21, 2002) (finding the Respondent’s “intent to trade [on] the goodwill of Complainant’s mark, by attracting Internet users confused as to the likely affiliation between Complainant and Respondent’s website” indicated the respondent had no rights or legitimate interests pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii)); see also Credit Suisse Group o/b/o Winterthur Ins. Co. v. Pal-Ex Kft, FA 102971 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 25, 2002) (“The use of another's trademark to attract users to Respondent's domain is not considered to be a bona fide offering of goods or services pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii)”).
There is no evidence on record that Respondent is commonly known as anything other than Markus Koelmel. Therefore, Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See Nike, Inc. v. B. B. de Boer, D2000-1397 (WIPO Dec. 21, 2000) (finding no rights or legitimate interests where one “would be hard pressed to find a person who may show a right or legitimate interest” in a domain name containing Complainant's distinct and famous NIKE trademark); see also Nat’l Acad. Of Recording Arts & Sci Inc. v. Lsites, FA 103059 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 11, 2002) (finding that the famous nature of Complainant’s GRAMMY mark prevented Respondent from being commonly known by <grammy.biz>).
The Panel finds that STOP Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
When contacted by Complainant, Respondent offered to sell the disputed domain name for ten times the cost of the registration fee. This is evidence of bad faith registration pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(b)(i). See Xerox Corp. v. Imaging Solution, D2001-0313 (WIPO Apr. 25, 2001) (finding that the Respondent registered the domain name in the hope and expectation of being able to sell it to the Complainant for a sum of money in excess of its out-of-pocket expenses and/or in the hope of forcing the establishment of a business arrangement beneficial to the Respondent).
Furthermore, it can inferred that Respondent intends to use the disputed domain name to attract Internet users interested in Complainant to Respondent’s website for Respondent’s commercial gain. This is evidence of bad faith pursuant to STOP Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Pillsbury Co. v. Prebaked Scandinavia ab, FA 102970 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 31, 2002) (finding registration of a domain name identical to Complainant’s mark to be in bad faith under STOP Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) when use of the domain name would likely cause confusion as to the affiliation between Respondent and Complainant); see also State Fair of Texas v. Granbury.com, FA 95288 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 12, 2000) (finding bad faith where the Respondent registered the domain name <bigtex.net> to infringe on the Complainant’s goodwill and attract Internet users to the Respondent’s website).
The Panel finds that STOP Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii) has been satisfied.
Having established all three elements required under the Start-up Trademark Opposition Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be hereby granted.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the domain name <icq.biz> be transferred from Respondent to Complainant and subsequent challenges under the STOP Policy against this domain name shall not be permitted.
John J. Upchurch, Panelist
Dated: June 28, 2002
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