UnitedHealth Group Incorporated v. MJG Group LLC
Claim Number: FA0806001212876
Complainant is UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (“Complainant”), represented by Timothy M. Kenny, of Fulbright & Jaworski, Minnesota, USA. Respondent is MJG Group LLC (“Respondent”), Florida, USA.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <unitedhealthbenefit.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 June 26, 2008; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on June 27, 2008.
On June 30, 2008, Godaddy.com, Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <unitedhealthbenefit.com> domain name is registered with Godaddy.com, Inc. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Godaddy.com, Inc. has verified that Respondent is bound by the Godaddy.com, 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 July 2, 2008, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of July 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 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.
On July 29, 2008, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed Sandra J. Franklin 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 <unitedhealthbenefit.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s UNITEDHEALTH mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <unitedhealthbenefit.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <unitedhealthbenefit.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, UnitedHealth Group, Inc., provides a variety of health care products and services including healthcare plans and benefits. Complainant advertises these services under a variety of marks which will be collectively referred to as the “UNITEDHEALTH” marks. Some representative registrations of Complainant’s UNITEDHEALTH marks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) include: 1) UNITED HEALTHCARE registered on April 16, 1996 (Reg. No. 1,967,622); 2) UNITEDHEALTH GROUP registered on October 15, 2002 (Reg. No. 2,635,728); 3) UNITEDHEALTH ACCESS registered on October 4, 2005 (Reg. No. 3,004,514); and 4) UNITEDHEALTH PREMIUM registered on August 1, 2006 (Reg. No. 3,122,664). In connection with its healthcare business, Complainant operates websites at the <unitedhealthgroup.com> and <uhc.com> domain names.
Respondent registered the <unitedhealthbenefit.com> domain name on March 17, 2007. The disputed domain name resolves to a website which offers products and services from DirectMed. Specifically, the disputed domain name offers healthcare plans similar to those Complainant markets.
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 its UNITED HEALTHCARE mark with the USPTO on April 16, 1996. The Panel finds Complainant has provided sufficient evidence to establish rights in its UNITED HEALTHCARE mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See 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.”); see also Men’s Wearhouse, Inc. v. Wick, FA 117861 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 16, 2002) (“Under U.S. trademark law, registered marks hold a presumption that they are inherently distinctive [or] have acquired secondary meaning.”).
Respondent’s <unitedhealthbenefit.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s UNITED HEALTHCARE mark, as it merely substitutes the descriptive term “benefit,” for the term “care” in Complainant’s mark. The term “benefit” is descriptive of Complainant’s business because Complainant provides healthcare benefits as part of their healthcare plans. The Panel finds Respondent’s substitution does not sufficiently distinguish the disputed domain name from Complainant’s mark. Also, the Panel finds the addition of the generic top-level domain “.com,” is not relevant for the purposes of evaluating a disputed domain name. Therefore, the Panel finds Respondent’s <unitedhealthbenefit.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s UNITED HEALTHCARE mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See 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 Marriott Int’l, Inc. v. Café au lait, FA 93670, (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 13, 2000) (finding that the respondent’s domain name <marriott-hotel.com> is confusingly similar to the complainant’s MARRIOTT mark); see also Busy Body, Inc. v. Fitness Outlet Inc., D2000-0127 (WIPO Apr. 22, 2000) ("[T]he addition of the generic top-level domain (gTLD) name ‘.com’ is . . . without legal significance since use of a gTLD is required of domain name registrants . . . .").
The Panel finds Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant asserts Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Complainant must establish a prima facie case to support these assertions, and the Panel finds Complainant has done so in these proceedings. Once Complainant has produced a sufficient prima facie case, the burden shifts to Respondent to establish it does have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Respondent failed to submit a response to these proceedings, thus the Panel may infer Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel will nevertheless examine the record to determine whether Respondent has rights or legitimate interests pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c). 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 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).
Respondent offers healthcare products and services which directly compete with Complainant’s business on the website resolving from the disputed domain name. The Panel finds Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name is not a use in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(i), or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See Gardens Alive, Inc. v. D&S Linx, FA 203126 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 20, 2003) (finding that the respondent used a domain name for commercial benefit by diverting Internet users to a website that sold goods and services similar to those offered by the complainant and thus, was not using the name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use); see also Or. State Bar v. A Special Day, Inc., FA 99657 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 4, 2001) (“Respondent's advertising of legal services and sale of law-related books under Complainant's name is not a bona fide offering of goods and services because Respondent is using a mark confusingly similar to the Complainant's to sell competing goods.”).
The WHOIS information lists Respondent as “MJG Group LLC,” and the website resolving from the disputed domain name appears to offer services from “DirectMed.” Complainant has not authorized Respondent to use its UNITEDHEALTH marks. Therefore, the Panel finds Respondent is not known by the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See 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); see also Compagnie de Saint Gobain v. Com-Union Corp., D2000-0020 (WIPO Mar. 14, 2000) (finding no rights or legitimate interest 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 Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Respondent is using the disputed domain name to resolve to a website which offers healthcare products and services that directly compete with Complainant’s business. The Panel finds Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name constitutes disruption and is evidence of bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See Lambros v. Brown, FA 198963 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 19, 2003) (finding that the respondent registered a domain name primarily to disrupt its competitor when it sold similar goods as those offered by the complainant and “even included Complainant's personal name on the website, leaving Internet users with the assumption that it was Complainant's business they were doing business with”); see also 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).”).
Further, Respondent presumably profits from this use of the disputed domain name. Thus, the Panel finds Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name is an attempt by Respondent to profit from the goodwill associated with Complainant’s UNITEDHEALTH marks and constitutes bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Identigene, Inc. v. Genetest Labs., D2000-1100 (WIPO Nov. 30, 2000) (finding bad faith where the respondent's use of the domain name at issue to resolve to a website where similar services are offered to Internet users is likely to confuse the user into believing that the complainant is the source of or is sponsoring the services offered at the site); see also MathForum.com, LLC v. Weiguang Huang, D2000-0743 (WIPO Aug. 17, 2000) (finding bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) where the respondent registered a domain name confusingly similar to the complainant’s mark and the domain name was used to host a commercial website that offered similar services offered by the complainant under its mark).
The Panel finds 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 <unitedhealthbenefit.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Sandra J. Franklin, Panelist
Dated: August 5, 2008
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