Sears Brand, LLC v. Domain Park Limited
Claim Number: FA0808001218779
Complainant is Sears Brand, LLC (“Complainant”), represented by Paul D. McGrady, of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Illinois, USA. Respondent is Domain Park Limited (“Respondent”), Samoa.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <mysearsrewards.com>, registered with Rebel.com.
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 August 1, 2008; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on August 4, 2008.
On August 7, 2008, Rebel.com confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <mysearsrewards.com> domain name is registered with Rebel.com and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Rebel.com has verified that Respondent is bound by the Rebel.com 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 August 12, 2008, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of September 2, 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 September 9, 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 <mysearsrewards.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s SEARS mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <mysearsrewards.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <mysearsrewards.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Sears Brand, LLC, operates a retail business that offers merchandise and related services. Complainant provides its goods and services under its SEARS mark. Complainant registered its SEARS mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) on December 17, 1995 (Reg. No. 1,563,683).
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on July 27, 2007. Respondent’s disputed domain name resolves to a website that displays links to third-party websites that compete with Complainant’s business.
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 provided evidence of the registration of its SEARS mark with the USPTO. The Panel finds this evidence sufficiently establishes Complainant’s rights in its SEARS mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). 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 KCTS Television Inc. v. Get-on-the-Web Ltd., D2001-0154 (WIPO Apr. 20, 2001) (holding that it does not matter for the purpose of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy whether the complainant’s mark is registered in a country other than that of the respondent’s place of business).
Respondent’s disputed domain name fully incorporates Complainant’s SEARS mark with the following additions: the generic term ‘my,” the generic term “rewards,” and the generic top-level domain “.com.” The Panel finds the additions of generic terms and a top-level domain do not detract from the dominant portion of the disputed domain name, which is Complainant’s SEARS mark. Therefore, the Panel finds Respondent’s disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Arthur Guinness Son & Co. (Dublin) Ltd. v. Healy/BOSTH, D2001-0026 (WIPO Mar. 23, 2001) (finding confusing similarity where the domain name in dispute contains the identical mark of the complainant combined with a generic word or term); see also Am. Online Inc. v. Neticq.com Ltd., D2000-1606 (WIPO Feb. 12, 2001) (finding that the addition of the generic word “Net” to the complainant’s ICQ mark, makes the <neticq.com> domain name confusingly similar to the complainant’s 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 alleges Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Initially, the burden of proof lies with Complainant to establish a prima facie case that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Once Complainant has produced a prima facie case, the burden then shifts to Respondent. The Panel finds Complainant has sufficiently established a prima facie case under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). Respondent has failed to file a Response in these proceedings and thus the Panel may presume Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel will nevertheless examine the record to determine if Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c). See 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”); see also Vanguard Group, Inc. v. Collazo, FA 349074 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 1, 2004) (finding that because Respondent failed to submit a Response, “Complainant’s submission has gone unopposed and its arguments undisputed. In the absence of a Response, the Panel accepts as true all reasonable allegations . . . unless clearly contradicted by the evidence.”).
Complainant alleges Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name. The WHOIS information and record do not indicate Respondent has been commonly known by the disputed domain name. Complainant has never authorized Respondent to use its SEARS mark in any manner. Therefore, the Panel finds Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Ian Schrager Hotels, L.L.C. v. Taylor, FA 173369 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 25, 2003) (finding that without demonstrable evidence to support the assertion that a respondent is commonly known by a domain name, the assertion must be rejected); 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).
Respondent is using the disputed domain name to display links to third-party websites that compete with Complainant’s business. The Panel finds Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name is not 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 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 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 Panel finds Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Respondent’s disputed domain name resolves to a website that displays links to third-party competitors of Complainant. The Panel finds Respondent’s use constitutes disruption and is evidence of bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See Travant Solutions, Inc. v. Cole, FA 203177 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 6, 2003) (“Respondent registered and used the domain name in bad faith, pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii), because it is operating on behalf of a competitor of Complainant . . .”); 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).
Respondent is using the confusingly similar disputed domain name to display links to competing third-party websites. Respondent presumably is compensated for this use in the form of click-through fees. The Panel finds Respondent’s attempt to profit from the goodwill Complainant has established in its SEARS mark is evidence of bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Am. Univ. v. Cook, FA 208629 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 22, 2003) (“Registration and use of a domain name that incorporates another's mark with the intent to deceive Internet users in regard to the source or affiliation of the domain name is evidence of bad faith.”); 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).”).
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 <mysearsrewards.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Sandra J. Franklin, Panelist
Dated: September 23, 2008
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