Metropolitan Life Insurance Company v. Robert Hargraves
Claim Number: FA0801001126333
Complainant is Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (“Complainant”), represented by Katherine
L. Dominus, of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <metlifeclaims.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.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to
the National Arbitration Forum electronically on
On January 18, 2008, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of February 7, 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.
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 <metlifeclaims.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s MET LIFE mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <metlifeclaims.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <metlifeclaims.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., offers individual
and commercial consumers a broad range of financial planning and management
products and services under its METLIFE mark including: insurance, savings, retirement,
real estate and loans. Complainant
registered its METLIFE mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office
Respondent registered the <metlifeclaims.com>
domain name on
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 registered the METLIFE mark with the USPTO on
The Panel finds Respondent’s <metlifeclaims.com> domain name is
confusingly similar to Complainant’s METLIFE mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). Respondent’s
disputed domain name fully incorporates Complainant’s METLIFE mark with the
addition of the descriptive word “claims,” which presumably describes
Complainant’s involvement in the insurance industry. Additionally, it is well established that the
generic top-level domain “.com” is considered immaterial when assessing whether
a disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a mark. See American Int’l Group v. Mary Ellen Morris, FA 569033
(Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 6, 2005) (finding <aigfraud.net> “confusingly
similar to Complainant’s AIG mark because [the] domain name fully incorporates
the mark with the addition of the generic or descriptive [term] ‘fraud’); 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 Isleworth Land Co. v. Lost in Space, SA, FA 117330 (Nat.
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant has asserted that Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Once Complainant presents a prima facie case in support of these assertions, the burden shifts to Respondent to establish that it does have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). The Panel finds that Complainant has established a prima facie case to support its assertions and Respondent has failed to submit a response to the case. Therefore, the Panel may assume Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel, however, will inspect the record and determine whether Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c). 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”).
Respondent’s <metlifeclaims.com> domain name resolves to a parked website. This parked website displays links to third-party websites offering products and services that directly compete with Complainant’s insurance business. Respondent presumably receives remuneration for displaying these links through click-through fees. The Panel finds that this diversionary use is not a use in connection with a bona fide offering of goods pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(i), or a noncommercial or fair use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See Lockheed Martin Corp. v. Extraordinary Things LLC, FA 1117826 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 23, 2008) (“Respondent’s…domain names all resolve to parked websites featuring links to third-party venture capital and financial websites that offer services in competition with Complainant, and Respondent accrues click-through fees from these links. The Panel finds that such use does not constitute either a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i), or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii).”); see also Pioneer Hi-Bred Int’l Inc. v. Chan, FA 154119 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 12, 2003) (finding that the respondent did not have rights or legitimate interests in a domain name that used the complainant’s mark and redirected Internet users to a website that pays domain name registrants for referring those users to its search engine and pop-up advertisements).
In addition, the Panel finds that Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii) because Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name. There is no evidence in the record or WHOIS information indicating that Respondent is known by the <metlifeclaims.com> domain name. In addition, the record indicates that there is no relationship between Complainant and Respondent giving Respondent authorization to use the METLIFE mark in any form. See RMO, Inc. v. Burbridge, FA 96949 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 16, 2001) (interpreting Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii) "to require a showing that one has been commonly known by the domain name prior to registration of the domain name to prevail"); see also Compagnie de Saint Gobain v. Com-Union Corp., D2000-0020 (WIPO Mar. 14, 2000) (finding no rights or legitimate interests 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 is using the confusingly similar <metlifeclaims.com> domain name to display a parked website containing links to third-party websites offering insurance products and services that directly compete with Complainant. Respondent presumably receives click-through fees for displaying this parked website. The Panel finds that this is an attempt by Respondent to profit from the goodwill associated with Complainant’s METLIFE mark and constitutes registration and use in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Associated Newspapers Ltd. v. Domain Manager, FA 201976 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 19, 2003) (“Respondent's prior use of the <mailonsunday.com> domain name is evidence of bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) because the domain name provided links to Complainant's competitors and Respondent presumably commercially benefited from the misleading domain name by receiving ‘click-through-fees.’”); see also Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc. v. Lalli, FA 95284 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 21, 2000) (finding bad faith where the respondent directed Internet users seeking the complainant’s site to its own website for commercial gain).
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 <metlifeclaims.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Dated: February 27, 2008
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