Sears Brands, LLC v. Ivenu
Claim Number: FA0801001141064
Complainant is Sears Brands, LLC (“Complainant”), represented by Paul
D. McGrady, of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Illinois, USA. Respondent is Ivenu (“Respondent”),
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <searsarena.com>, registered with Godaddy.com, Inc.
The undersigned certifies that he or she has acted independently and impartially and to the best of his or her knowledge has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding.
Sandra J. Franklin as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to
the National Arbitration Forum electronically on
On February 7, 2008, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of February 27, 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 <searsarena.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s SEARS CENTRE mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <searsarena.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <searsarena.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Sears Brands LLC, and its affiliate Sears,
Roebuck and Co., are wholly owned subsidiaries of Sears Holding
Corporation. Sears is a leading retailer
providing a wide range of products and related services. Complainant uses the SEARS CENTRE mark in
connection with its partly owned sports arena, the Sears Centre. The Sears Centre is an 11,000 seat
multi-purpose family entertainment, cultural and sports center. Complainant owns a registration for the SEARS
CENTRE mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) (Reg.
No. 3,269,333 filed
Respondent registered the <searsarena.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 has established rights in the SEARS CENTRE mark
through registration with the USPTO.
Although Complainant’s mark was not accepted for registration until
after Respondent had registered the <searsarena.com>
domain name, the Panel finds that the relevant date in establishing rights in a
mark is the filing date. As a result,
Complainant’s mark predates Respondent’s domain name registration under Policy
¶ 4(a)(i). See Planetary
Soc’y v. Rosillo, D2001-1228 (WIPO Feb. 12, 2002) (holding that the
effective date of Complainant’s trademark rights date back to the application’s
filing date); see also Vivendi Universal Games v. XBNetVentures
Inc., FA 198803 (Nat. Arb. Forum
The <searsarena.com> domain name is confusingly similar to the SEARS CENTRE mark. Respondent’s disputed domain name contains the dominant features of Complainant’s mark but replaces the term “centre” with “arena,” two terms with an equivalent meaning. The Panel finds this to be an insufficient means of distinguishing the disputed domain name from Complainant’s mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Am. Online, Inc. v. Anytime Online Traffic Sch., FA 146930 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 11, 2003) (finding that the respondent’s domain names, which incorporated the complainant’s entire mark and merely added the descriptive terms “traffic school,” “defensive driving,” and “driver improvement” did not add any distinctive features capable of overcoming a claim of confusing similarity); see also Westfield Corp. v. Hobbs, D2000-0227 (WIPO May 18, 2000) (finding the <westfieldshopping.com> domain name confusingly similar because the WESTFIELD mark was the dominant element).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant contends that Respondent lacks all rights or legitimate interests in the <searsarena.com> domain name. In instances where Complainant has made a prima facie case under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii), the burden shifts to Respondent to set forth concrete evidence that it does possess rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel finds that Complainant has satisfied its prima facie burden in this case. 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 is using its disputed domain name to resolve to a website that features links to various competing commercial websites from which Respondent presumably receives referral fees. The Panel finds that Respondent’s use is neither a bona fide offering of goods or services pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use pursuant to Policy ¶ (c)(iii). See Computer Doctor Franchise Sys., Inc. v. Computer Doctor, FA 95396 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 8, 2000) (finding that the respondent’s website, which is blank but for links to other websites, is not a legitimate use of the domain names); see also TM Acquisition Corp. v. Sign Guards, FA 132439 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 31, 2002) (finding that the respondent’s diversionary use of the complainant’s marks to send Internet users to a website which displayed a series of links, some of which linked to the complainant’s competitors, was not a bona fide offering of goods or services).
Respondent is neither commonly known by the <searsarena.com> domain name nor authorized to register domain names featuring Complainant’s SEARS CENTRE mark in any way. In the absence of evidence suggesting otherwise, the Panel finds that Respondent has not established rights or legitimate interests in accordance with Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See 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); see also Charles Jourdan Holding AG v. AAIM, D2000-0403 (WIPO June 27, 2000) (finding no rights or legitimate interests where (1) the respondent is not a licensee of the complainant; (2) the complainant’s prior rights in the domain name precede the respondent’s registration; (3) the respondent is not commonly known by the domain name in question).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Respondent is using the <searsarena.com> domain name to operate websites that provide Internet users with links to various competing websites. The Panel finds that Respondent’s use constitutes a disruption of Complainant’s business and evinces bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See Puckett, Individually v. Miller, D2000-0297 (WIPO June 12, 2000) (finding that the respondent has diverted business from the complainant to a competitor’s website in violation of Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii)); see also EBAY, Inc. v. MEOdesigns, D2000-1368 (WIPO Dec. 15, 2000) (finding that the respondent registered and used the domain name <eebay.com> in bad faith where the respondent has used the domain name to promote competing auction sites).
Furthermore, Respondent’s use will likely cause confusion as to Complainant’s sponsorship of and affiliation with the resulting websites. The Panel finds that such use of a domain name for Respondent’s own commercial gain is additional evidence of Respondent’s bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See 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); see also Anne of Green Gable Licensing Auth., Inc. v. Internetworks, AF-0109 (eResolution June 12, 2000) (finding that the respondent violated Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) because the respondent admittedly used the complainant’s well-known mark to attract users to the respondent's website).
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 <searsarena.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Sandra J. Franklin, Panelist
Dated: March 18, 2008
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