Sears Brands, LLC v. Victor Gnocchi d/b/a Speedlinks.com
Claim Number: FA0809001223539
Complainant is Sears Brands, LLC (“Complainant”), represented by Paul
D. McGrady, of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Illinois, USA. Respondent is Victor Gnocchi d/b/a
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <searspr.com>, registered with Godaddy.com, 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.
James A. Carmody, Esq., as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on September 5, 2008; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on September 8, 2008.
On September 8, 2008, Godaddy.com, Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <searspr.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 September 17, 2008, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of October 7, 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 October 14, 2008, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed James A. Carmody, Esq., 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 <searspr.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s SEARS mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <searspr.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <searspr.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Sears Brands, LLC, offers consumers with a variety of home merchandise, apparel and automotive products and services through its stores, catalogs and online stores. 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 March 14, 2002. Respondent’s disputed domain name does not resolve to an active website. Also, Respondent offered to sell the disputed domain name to Complainant for $680.00, which is in excess of Respondent’s out-of-pocket costs.
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 SEARS mark with the USPTO. The Panel finds Complainant’s registration
sufficiently establishes its rights in the mark pursuant to Policy ¶
Respondent’s <searspr.com> domain name fully incorporates Complainant’s SEARS mark with the additions of the letters “pr,” and the generic top-level domain “.com.” The Panel finds these alterations do not sufficiently distinguish the disputed domain name from Complainant’s mark and thus find they are confusingly similar pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Victoria’s Secret v. Zuccarini, FA 95762 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 18, 2000) (finding that, by misspelling words and adding letters to words, a respondent does not create a distinct mark but nevertheless renders the domain name confusingly similar to the complainant’s marks); see also Kelson Physician Partners, Inc. v. Mason, CPR003 (CPR 2000) (finding that <kelsonmd.com> is identical or confusingly similar to the complainant’s federally registered service mark, KELSON); 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 prove otherwise. 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. However, the Panel will 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’s disputed domain name does not resolve to an active website. The Panel finds Respondent’s failure to make an active use of the disputed domain name is evidence Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). See Pharmacia & Upjohn AB v. Romero, D2000-1273 (WIPO Nov. 13, 2000) (finding no rights or legitimate interests where the respondent failed to submit a response to the complaint and had made no use of the domain name in question); see also Bloomberg L.P. v. Sandhu, FA 96261 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 12, 2001) (finding that no rights or legitimate interests can be found when the respondent fails to use disputed domain names in any way).
Additionally, Respondent offered to sell the disputed domain name to Complainant for $680.00. The Panel finds Respondent’s offer to sell the disputed domain name in excess of its out-of-pocket expenses is evidence Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). See Am. Nat’l Red Cross v. Domains, FA 143684 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 4, 2003) (“Respondent’s lack of rights and legitimate interests in the domain name is further evidenced by Respondent’s attempt to sell its domain name registration to Complainant, the rightful holder of the RED CROSS mark.”); see also Cruzeiro Licenciamentos Ltda v. Sallen, D2000-0715 (WIPO Sept. 6, 2000) (finding that rights or legitimate interests do not exist when one holds a domain name primarily for the purpose of marketing it to the owner of a corresponding trademark).
The Panel finds Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Respondent made an offer to sell Complainant the disputed
domain name for an amount in excess of Respondent’s out-of-pocket
expenses. The Panel finds Respondent’s
offer to sell the disputed domain name to Complainant is evidence of bad faith
registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(i). See
Little Six, Inc. v. Domain For
Respondent has not made an active use of the disputed domain
name and the Panel finds this is evidence of bad faith registration and use
pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii). See DCI
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 <searspr.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
James A. Carmody, Esq., Panelist
Dated: October 22, 2008
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