Bank of America Corporation v. Zx Domains a/k/a Sezar Sak
Claim Number: FA0803001169786
Complainant is Bank of America Corporation (“Complainant”), represented by Randel
S. Springer, of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <lasallebankonline.com>, registered with Enom, 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.
Honorable Paul A. Dorf (Ret.) as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to
the National Arbitration Forum electronically on
3, 2008, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative
Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of
April 23, 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 email@example.com 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 <lasallebankonline.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s LASALLE BANK mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <lasallebankonline.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <lasallebankonline.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant offers financial and lending services to
customers around the world. Complainant
registered the LASALLE BANK mark with the United States Patent and Trademark
Office (“USPTO”) on
Respondent registered the <lasallebankonline.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.
The Panel finds that Complainant has established rights in the LASALLE BANK mark for purposes of Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) through its trademark registration with the USPTO. See Janus Int’l Holding Co. v. Rademacher, D2002-0201 (WIPO Mar. 5, 2002) ("Panel decisions have held that registration of a mark is prima facie evidence of validity, which creates a rebuttable presumption that the mark is inherently distinctive."); see also U.S. Office of Pers. Mgmt. v. MS Tech. Inc., FA 198898 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 9, 2003) (“[O]nce the USPTO has made a determination that a mark is registrable, by so issuing a registration, as indeed was the case here, an ICANN panel is not empowered to nor should it disturb that determination.”).
Complainant contends that
Respondent’s <lasallebankonline.com> domain name is confusingly similar to its LASALLE
BANK mark. The
<lasallebankonline.com> domain name differs from Complainant’s mark in three ways:
(1) the spaces between the words have been removed; (2) the term “online” has
been added to the end of the mark; and (3) the generic top-level domain
(“gTLD”) “.com” has been added. The
Panel finds that these changes do not minimize or eliminate the resulting
likelihood of confusion, and so Respondent’s disputed domain name is not
sufficiently distinguished from Complainant’s mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Planned Parenthood Fed’n
of Am. v. Bucci, 42 U.S.P.Q. 2d 1430 (S.D.N.Y. 1997), cert. denied 525
U.S. 834 (1998) (finding plaintiff’s PLANNED PARENTHOOD mark and defendant’s
<plannedparenthood.com> domain name nearly identical); see also Broadcom
Corp. v. Domain Depot, FA 96854 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 23, 2001) (finding
the <broadcomonline.com> domain name is confusingly similar to the
complainant’s BROADCOM mark); see also Nev. State Bank v. Modern Ltd. – Cayman Web Dev.,
FA 204063 (Nat. Arb. Forum
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant contends that Respondent lacks all rights and legitimate interests in the <lasallebankonline.com> domain name. Under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii), after the complainant makes a prima facie case against the respondent, the respondent then has the burden of showing evidence that it does have rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Complainant has made a prima facie case under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). See Clerical Med. Inv. Group Ltd. v. Clericalmedical.com, D2000-1228 (WIPO Nov. 28, 2000) (finding that, under certain circumstances, the mere assertion by the complainant that the respondent has no right or legitimate interest is sufficient to shift the burden of proof to the respondent to demonstrate that such a right or legitimate interest does exist); see also Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, D2000-0624 (WIPO Aug. 21, 2000) (holding that once the complainant asserts that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the domain, the burden shifts to the respondent to provide “concrete evidence that it has rights to or legitimate interests in the domain name at issue”).
Complainant contends that Respondent is not commonly known
by the disputed domain name, <lasallebankonline.com>,
nor have they ever been the owner or licensee of the LASALLE BANK mark. The WHOIS record for the disputed domain name
lists Respondent as “Zx Domains a/k/a Sezar
Sak.” This evidence, along with
the fact that Respondent has failed to show any evidence contrary to
Complainant’s contentions, compels the Panel to find that Respondent is not
commonly known as <lasallebankonline.com>
pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii).
See Brown v. Sarrault,
FA 99584 (Nat. Arb. Forum
Respondent maintains a website at <lasallebankonline.com> that offers banking services in competition with Complainant’s services. The Panel finds that this use of the domain name <lasallebankonline.com> is neither a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See Computerized Sec. Sys., Inc. v. Hu, FA 157321 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 23, 2003) (“Respondent’s appropriation of [Complainant’s] SAFLOK mark to market products that compete with Complainant’s goods does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods and services.”); see also Glaxo Group Ltd. v. WWW Zban, FA 203164 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 1, 2003) (finding that the respondent was not using the domain name within the parameters of Policy ¶¶ 4(c)(i) or (iii) because the respondent used the domain name to take advantage of the complainant's mark by diverting Internet users to a competing commercial site).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Complainant contends that Respondent is using the disputed
domain name to divert Internet customers from Complainant’s website to
Respondent’s website, through the confusion caused by the similarity between
the LASALLE BANK mark and the <lasallebankonline.com>
domain name. The Panel finds that Respondent’s
use of the disputed domain name disrupts Complainant’s business, and is
evidence of registration and use in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See Puckett,
Individually v. Miller, D2000-0297 (WIPO
Complainant also contends that Respondent is gaining commercially through this diversion, both through click-through fees and through the competing services that Respondent is offering. The Panel finds that this is an intentional use of the disputed domain name for commercial gain through a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s mark, and so, pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv), this use is also evidence of registration and use in bad faith. 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 Amazon.com, Inc. v. Shafir, FA 196119 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 10, 2003) (“As Respondent is using the domain name at issue in direct competition with Complainant, and giving the impression of being affiliated with or sponsored by Complainant, this circumstance qualifies as bad faith registration and use of the domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv).”); see also G.D. Searle & Co. v. Celebrex Drugstore, FA 123933 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 21, 2002) (finding that the respondent registered and used the domain name in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) because the respondent was using the confusingly similar domain name to attract Internet users to its commercial 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 <lasallebankonline.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Honorable Paul A. Dorf (Ret.), Panelist
Dated: May 12, 2008
Click Here to return to the main Domain Decisions Page.
Click Here to return to our Home Page
National Arbitration Forum