General Media Communications, Inc. v. Wear Products, Inc.

Claim Number: FA0205000114406



Complainant is General Media Communications, Inc., New York, NY (“Complainant”).  Respondent is Wear Products Inc., Gulf Breeze, FL (“Respondent”).



The domain name at issue is <>, registered with Network Solutions, 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.


The Honorable Charles K. McCotter, Jr. (Ret.) as Panelist.



Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum (the “Forum”) electronically on May 22, 2002; the Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on May 25, 2002.


On May 24, 2002, Network Solutions, Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the domain name <> is registered with Network Solutions, Inc. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name.  Network Solutions, Inc. has verified that Respondent is bound by the Network Solutions, Inc. registration agreement and has thereby agreed to resolve domain-name disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”).


On May 28, 2002, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the “Commencement Notification”), setting a deadline of June 17, 2002 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 by e-mail.


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 26, 2002, pursuant to Complainant’s request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed the Honorable Charles K. McCotter, Jr. (Ret.) as 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 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 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

1.      Respondent’s <> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s PENTHOUSE mark.

2.      Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the <> domain name.

3.      Respondent registered and used the <> domain name in bad faith.


B.     Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.



Complainant is the holder of numerous registrations with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), such as: Reg. No. 880,922 for the PENTHOUSE mark, registered June 30, 1999; Reg. No. 1,020,498 for the PENTHOUSE FORUM mark; and, Reg. No. 2,441,085 for the PENTHOUSE.COM mark.


Since 1969, Complainant has published and distributed a well-known magazine using the trademark PENTHOUSE throughout the United States and internationally. Complainant’s publication has generated many millions of dollars of sales. Complainant has capitalized on the popularity of its mark by expanding to a number of other products and services, including distributing various adult sexual toys bearing the PENTHOUSE trademark.


Complainant operates from its <> website, which receives a significant amount of Internet traffic.


Respondent registered the disputed <> domain name on March 19, 2002. Respondent’s domain name corresponds with a website that offers the sale of adult oriented sexual merchandise, the majority of which are sold by some of Complainant’s largest competitors. Respondent is not licensed or authorized to use Complainant’s PENTHOUSE mark.  Following Complainant’s second cease and desist letter, Respondent placed a disclaimer on its website.



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 the 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.


Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that the 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 the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar 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 and is being used in bad faith.


Identical and/or Confusingly Similar

Complainant has established its rights in the PENTHOUSE mark by listing its mark on the Principal Register of the USPTO and subsequent continuous use.


Respondent’s <> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark. Respondent incorporates Complainant’s entire PENTHOUSE mark in its domain name. The addition of an industry-related word, such as “toys,” fails to detract from the overall presence of Complainant’s PENTHOUSE mark. See Sony Kabushiki Kaisha v. Inja, Kil, D2000-1409 (WIPO Dec. 9, 2000) (finding that “[n]either the addition of an ordinary descriptive word…nor the suffix ‘.com’ detract from the overall impression of the dominant part of the name in each case, namely the trademark SONY” and thus Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) is satisfied). The likelihood of confusion is further increased because Respondent is operating in the same industry as Complainant. See Slep-Tone Entm't Corp. v. Sounds Choice Disc Jockeys, Inc., FA 93636 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 13, 2000) (stating that “likelihood of confusion is further increased by the fact that the Respondent and [Complainant] operate within the same industry”).


Accordingly, the Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.


Rights or Legitimate Interests

Because Respondent has not submitted a Response in this proceeding, the Panel may presume it has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. See Pavillion Agency, Inc. v. Greenhouse Agency Ltd., D2000-1221 (WIPO Dec. 4, 2000) (finding that Respondents’ failure to respond can be construed as an admission that they have no legitimate interest in the domain names). Furthermore, Respondent’s failure to respond allows all reasonable inferences made by Complainant to be deemed true. 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’s disputed domain name directs unsuspecting Internet users to a competing website offering the same goods and services as Complainant’s website. Respondent’s use of the PENTHOUSE mark in conjunction with topics related to sexuality suggests opportunistic tactics aimed at ensnaring Internet users interested in Complainant’s goods and services. Therefore Respondent is not using the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i). See N. Coast Med., Inc. v. Allegro Med., FA 95541 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 2, 2000) (finding no bona fide use where Respondent used the domain name to divert Internet users to its competing website); see also State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. LaFaive, FA 95407 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 27, 2000) (finding that “unauthorized providing of information and services under a mark owned by a third party cannot be said to be the bona fide offering of goods or services”).


Respondent also fails to make a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). Respondent is commercially benefiting from Complainant’s mark by using it as a tool to sell sex toys to people looking for Complainant’s goods. See MSNBC Cable, LLC v., D2000-1204 (WIPO Dec. 8, 2000) (finding no rights or legitimate interests in the famous MSNBC mark where Respondent attempted to profit using the Complainant’s mark by redirecting Internet traffic to its own website); see also Chip Merch., Inc. v. Blue Star Elec., D2000-0474 (WIPO Aug. 21, 2000) (finding that the disputed domain names were confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark and that Respondent’s use of the domain names to sell competing goods was illegitimate and not a bona fide offering of goods).


Additionally, there is no evidence that suggests that Respondent is commonly known as PENTHOUSETOYS.COM or by <> pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). Respondent is not licensed or authorized to use Complainant’s PENTHOUSE mark in order to solicit orders for competing goods. Thus, Respondent fails to demonstrate rights and legitimate interests in the domain name. See Broadcom Corp. v. Intellifone Corp., FA 96356 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 5, 2001) (finding no rights or legitimate interests because Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name or using the domain name in connection with a legitimate or fair use); see also Charles Jourdan Holding AG v. AAIM, D2000-0403 (WIPO June 27, 2000) (finding no rights or legitimate interests where (1) Respondent is not a licensee of Complainant; (2) Complainant’s prior rights in the domain name precede Respondent’s registration; (3) Respondent is not commonly known by the domain name in question).


The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.


Registration and Use in Bad Faith

Complainant’s PENTHOUSE family of marks are listed on the Principal Register of the USPTO and enjoy the protection that accompanies such registration. Respondent is thought to have had constructive notice of Complainant’s interests and rights in its PENTHOUSE family of marks when Respondent registered the disputed domain name. Respondent’s registration of the domain, despite knowledge of Complainant’s preexisting rights in its marks, represents bad faith registration and use under the Policy. See Victoria’s Cyber Secret Ltd. P’ship v. V Secret Catalogue, Inc., 161 F.Supp.2d 1339, 1349 (S.D.Fla. 2001) (noting that “a Principal Register registration [of a trademark or service mark] is constructive notice of a claim of ownership so as to eliminate any defense of good faith adoption” pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1072); see also Samsonite Corp. v. Colony Holding, FA 94313 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 17, 2000) (finding that evidence of bad faith includes actual or constructive knowledge of a commonly known mark at the time of registration).


Respondent opportunistically traded on the fame of Complainant’s mark and solicited orders, thereby commercially benefiting from Complainant’s previous and ongoing development of its PENTHOUSE mark. Respondent’s registration of a confusingly similar domain name offering the same goods in the identical industry represents bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). Respondent intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users searching for Complainant’s goods and services by creating confusion with Complainant’s PENTHOUSE mark. See State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Northway, FA 95464 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 11, 2000) (finding that the Respondent registered the domain name <> in bad faith because Respondent intended to use Complainant’s marks to attract the public to the web site without permission from Complainant); see also Busy Body, Inc. v. Fitness Outlet, Inc., D2000-0127 WIPO Apr. 22, 2000) (finding bad faith where Respondent attempted to attract customers to its website, <>, and created confusion by offering similar products for sale as Complainant).


Lastly, Respondent’s addition of a disclaimer on its website fails to address the primary problem that accompanies domain names that infringe on famous marks, namely, initial interest confusion. See Alta Vista Co. v. AltaVista, FA 95480 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 31, 2000) (finding that since a disclaimer does not, and could not, accompany the domain name, then the “domain name attracts the consumer’s initial interest and the consumer is misdirected long before he/she has the opportunity to see the disclaimer”); see also Las Vegas Sands, Inc. v. Red Group, D2001-1057 (WIPO Dec. 6, 2001) (justifying the conclusion that Respondent wishes to trade on the fame of Complainant’s trademark, regardless of the presence of a small-print disclaimer that is unavailable to Internet users until they have already entered the gambling site, because the disclaimer fails to remedy initial confusion).


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 the requested relief should be hereby GRANTED.


Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.




The Honorable Charles K. McCotter, Jr. (Ret.), Panelist

Dated: July 3, 2002



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