MDO Development Corporation v.
Claim Number: FA0804001180652
Complainant is MDO Development Corporation (“Complainant”), represented by Glenn
T. Henneberger, of Hoffmann & Baron, LLP,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <thewaterclubhotel.com>, registered with Compana, LLC.
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.
James A. Crary as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on April 22, 2008; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on April 23, 2008.
On April 23, 2008, Compana, Llc confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <thewaterclubhotel.com> domain name is registered with Compana, LLC and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Compana, LLC has verified that Respondent is bound by the Compana, LLC 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").
2, 2008, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative
Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of
May 22, 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.
On May 30, 2008, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed James A. CraryJaes as Panelist.
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 <thewaterclubhotel.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s THE WATER CLUB mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <thewaterclubhotel.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <thewaterclubhotel.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, MDO Development Corporation, provides restaurant and bar services in connection to its ownership of a bar named “The Water Club.” Complainant has recently announced plans to build a hotel set to open in June 2008 named “The Water Club Hotel.” Complainant holds a trademark registration in the THE WATER CLUB mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) (Reg. No. 1,692,110 issued June 9, 1992).
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on December
31, 2005. The <thewaterclubhotel.com> domain name currently resolves to
a website containing third-party links, some in direct competition with
Complainant. Additionally, Respondent has been the respondent in several UDRP
proceedings in which the disputed domain names in those disputes were
transferred from Respondent to the respective complainants. See
NextTen Stauer, LLC v.
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 Complainant has established rights to the THE WATER CLUB mark based upon its USPTO trademark registration. Therefore, the Panel recognizes Complainant’s rights in the THE WATER CLUB mark for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Intel Corp. v. Macare, FA 660685 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 26, 2006) (finding that the complainant had established rights in the PENTIUM, CENTRINO and INTEL INSIDE marks by registering the marks with the USPTO); see also
Respondent’s <thewaterclubhotel.com> domain name contains Complainant’s THE WATER CLUB mark in its entirety. The addition of “hotel” does not diminish the similarity because it is a generic term that is connected to Complainant’s business. The addition of the generic top-level domain (“gTLD”) “.com” is irrelevant since all domain names require a top-level domain. Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent’s <thewaterclubhotel.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s THE WATER CLUB mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Quixtar Inv., Inc. v. Smithberger, D2000-0138 (WIPO Apr. 19, 2000) (finding that because the domain name <quixtar-sign-up.com> incorporates in its entirety the complainant’s distinctive mark, QUIXTAR, the domain name is confusingly similar); see also Caterpillar Inc. v. Quin, D2000-0314 (WIPO June 12, 2000) (finding that the disputed domain names <caterpillarparts.com> and <caterpillarspares.com> were confusingly similar to the registered trademarks CATERPILLAR and CATERPILLER DESIGN because “the idea suggested by the disputed domain names and the registered trademarks is that the goods or services offered in association with [the] domain name are manufactured by or sold by the Complainant or one of the Complainants [sic] approved distributors. The disputed trademarks contain one distinct component, the word Caterpillar”); see also Rollerblade, Inc. v. McCrady, D2000-0429 (WIPO June 25, 2000) (finding that the top level of the domain name such as “.net” or “.com” does not affect the domain name for the purpose of determining whether it is identical or confusingly similar).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant claims that Respondent has neither rights nor legitimate interests in the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). Complainant has the initial burden of showing that Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Once Complainant has made a prima facie case showing that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests, the burden shifts to Respondent to show that it does have rights or legitimate interests in the <thewaterclubhotel.com> domain name. The Panel finds that Complainant has met the initial burden of showing that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests, and therefore has made a prima facie case under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). See Compagnie Generale des Matieres Nucleaires v. Greenpeace Int’l, D2001-0376 (WIPO May 14, 2001) (“Proving that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name requires the Complainant to prove a negative. For the purposes of this sub paragraph, however, it is sufficient for the Complainant to show a prima facie case and the burden of proof is then shifted on to the shoulders of Respondent. In those circumstances, the common approach is for respondents to seek to bring themselves within one of the examples of paragraph 4(c) or put forward some other reason why they can fairly be said to have a relevant right or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name in question.”); see also 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).
Because Respondent failed to answer the Complaint, the Panel presumes that Respondent lacks all rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. See Am. Express Co. v. Fang Suhendro, FA 129120 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 30, 2002) (“[B]ased on Respondent's failure to respond, it is presumed that Respondent lacks all rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.”); see also Desotec N.V. v. Jacobi Carbons AB, D2000-1398 (WIPO Dec. 21, 2000) (finding that failing to respond allows a presumption that the complainant’s allegations are true unless clearly contradicted by the evidence). Nevertheless, the Panel will examine all evidence in the record to determine if Respondent does have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c).
Complainant asserts that Respondent has never been authorized to use the THE WATER CLUB mark, and that Respondent is not and has never been commonly known by the disputed domain name. Further, the WHOIS information does not indicate that Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name. Thus, the Panel finds that Respondent is not commonly known by the <thewaterclubhotel.com> domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Tercent Inc. v. Lee Yi, FA 139720 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 10, 2003) (stating “nothing in Respondent’s WHOIS information implies that Respondent is ‘commonly known by’ the disputed domain name” as one factor in determining that Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii) does not apply); see also Gallup, Inc. v. Amish Country Store, FA 96209 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 23, 2001) (finding that the respondent does not have rights in a domain name when the respondent is not known by the mark).
Respondent is using the <thewaterclubhotel.com> domain name to advertise links to third-party competitors. The Panel finds that such use is not 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 DLJ Long Term Inv. Corp. v. BargainDomainNames.com, FA 104580 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 9, 2002) (“Respondent is not using the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services because Respondent is using the domain name to divert Internet users to <visual.com>, where services that compete with Complainant are advertised.”); see also Ameritrade Holdings Corp. v. Polanski, FA 102715 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 11, 2002) (finding that the respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to redirect Internet users to a financial services website, which competed with the complainant, was not a bona fide offering of goods or services).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
The Panel finds that Respondent’s use of the <thewaterclubhotel.com> domain name to commercially gain by advertising links to competing services constitutes bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See Disney Enters., Inc. v. Noel, FA 198805 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 11, 2003) (“Respondent registered a domain name confusingly similar to Complainant's mark to divert Internet users to a competitor's website. It is a reasonable inference that Respondent's purpose of registration and use was to either disrupt or create confusion for Complainant's business in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶¶ 4(b)(iii) [and] (iv).”); see also S. Exposure v. S. Exposure, Inc., FA 94864 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 18, 2000) (finding the respondent acted in bad faith by attracting Internet users to a website that competes with the complainant’s business).
Complainant contends that Respondent is using the <thewaterclubhotel.com> domain name for commercial gain by advertising links to competing services, and benefiting from the likely confusion between Complainant’s mark and the disputed domain name. The Panel finds that the similarity between the disputed domain name and the THE WATER CLUB mark are likely to create confusion as to Complainant’s source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the website that resolves from the disputed domain name which constitutes bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See AltaVista Co. v. Krotov, D2000-1091 (WIPO Oct. 25, 2000) (finding bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) where the respondent’s domain name resolved to a website that offered links to third-party websites that offered services similar to the complainant’s services and merely took advantage of Internet user mistakes); see also Gardens Alive, Inc. v. D&S Linx, FA 203126 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 20, 2003) (“Respondent registered and used the <my-seasons.com> domain name in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶¶ 4(b)(iii) and (iv) because Respondent is using a domain name that is confusingly similar to the MYSEASONS mark for commercial benefit by diverting Internet users to the <thumbgreen.com> website, which sells competing goods and services.”).
has been the respondent in several UDRP proceedings in which the disputed
domain names in those disputes were transferred from Respondent to the
respective complainants. See NextTen
Stauer, LLC v.
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 <thewaterclubhotel.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
James A. Crary, Panelist
Dated: June 10, 2008
Click Here to return to the main Domain Decisions Page.
Click Here to return to our Home Page
National Arbitration Forum