Sears Brands, LLC v. All Starz Bounce a/k/a Robert Saeman
Claim Number: FA0810001227133
Complainant is Sears Brands, LLC (“Complainant”), represented by Paul
D. McGrady, of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Illinois, USA. Respondent is All Starz Bounce a/k/a Robert
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <searsgaragedoors.net>, 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.
Tyrus R. Atkinson, Jr., as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on September 30, 2008; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on October 2, 2008.
On October 1, 2008, Godaddy.com, Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <searsgaragedoors.net> 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").
3, 2008, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative
Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of October
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 28, 2008, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed Tyrus R. Atkinson, Jr., 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 <searsgaragedoors.net> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s SEARS mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <searsgaragedoors.net> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <searsgaragedoors.net> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Sears Brands LLC, and its affiliate Sears, Roebuck and Co., are wholly owned subsidiaries of Sears Holding Corporation. Sears is a leading retailer providing a wide range of products and related services. Complainant owns a trademark registration for the SEARS mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) (Reg. No. 2,985,558 issued August 16, 2005).
Respondent registered the <searsgaragedoors.net> domain name on April 18, 2008. Respondent’s disputed domain name resolves to a website offering the sale and service of garage doors in direct competition with Complainant.
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 contends that rights in the SEARS mark have been
established pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) through its trademark registration
with the USPTO. The Panel finds that
Complainant has established rights in the mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) due
to Complainant’s registration with the USPTO.
See McCarthy on Trademarks
and Unfair Competition, § 25:74.2 (4th ed. 2002) (The ICANN dispute
resolution policy is “broad in scope” in that “the reference to a trademark or
service mark ‘in which the complainant has rights’ means that ownership of a
registered mark is not required–unregistered or common law trademark or service
mark rights will suffice” to support a domain name complaint under the Policy);
see also Men’s Wearhouse, Inc. v.
Wick, FA 117861 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 16, 2002) (“Under
Complainant asserts that Respondent’s <searsgaragedoors.net> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s SEARS mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). Respondent’s disputed domain name contains Complainant’s mark in its entirety, adds the generic terms “garage doors,” and adds the generic top-level domain (“gTLD”) “.net.” The Panel finds that the addition of generic terms with an obvious relationship to a complainant’s business neither circumvents the complainant’s rights in the mark, nor avoids confusing similarity. 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 Christie’s Inc. v. Tiffany’s Jewelry Auction, Inc., D2001-0075 (WIPO Mar. 6, 2001) (finding that the domain name <christiesauction.com> is confusingly similar to the complainant's mark since it merely adds the word “auction” used in its generic sense). In addition, the Panel finds that the addition of a gTLD is irrelevant in distinguishing a disputed domain name from a registered mark. See 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). Therefore, pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i), Respondent’s <searsgaragedoors.net> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s SEARS mark.
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant asserts that Respondent lacks all rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. When Complainant makes a prima facie case in support of its allegations, the burden shifts to Respondent to prove that rights and legitimate interests exist pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). In this case, the Panel finds that Complainant has established a prima facie case and the burden is shifted to Respondent. 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).
By failing to respond to the Complaint, the Panel may assume that Respondent fails to meet its burden of establishing rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. See Broadcom Corp. v. Ibecom PLC, FA 361190 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 22, 2004) (“Respondent’s failure to respond to the Complaint functions as an implicit admission that [Respondent] lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. It also allows the Panel to accept all reasonable allegations set forth…as true.”); see also Law Soc’y of Hong Kong v. Domain Strategy, Inc., HK-0200015 (ADNDRC Feb. 12, 2003) (“A respondent is not obligated to participate in a domain name dispute . . . but the failure to participate leaves a respondent vulnerable to the inferences that flow naturally from the assertions of the complainant and the tribunal will accept as established assertions by the complainant that are not unreasonable.”). However, the Panel will examine the evidence on record against the applicable Policy ¶ 4(c) elements before making a final determination with regards to Respondent’s rights and legitimate interests.
Complainant contends that Respondent is neither commonly known by, nor licensed to register the disputed domain name. Respondent’s WHOIS information identifies Respondent as “Robert Saeman.” The Panel finds that Respondent’s failure to respond to the Complaint and WHOIS information proves that Respondent is not commonly known by the <searsgaragedoors.net> domain name. Therefore, pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii), Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. See Nature’s Path Foods Inc. v. Natures Path, Inc., FA 237452 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 2, 2004) (“In its WHOIS contact information, Respondent lists its name and its administrative contact as ‘Natures Path, Inc.’ However, since Respondent failed to respond to the Complaint, there has not been any affirmative evidence provided to the Panel showing that Respondent was commonly known by the disputed domain name prior to its registration of the domain name.”); see also Gestmusic Endemol, S.A. v. operaciontriunfo.us, FA 214337 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 14, 2004) (“Though Respondent’s WHOIS information lists Respondent’s name as ‘o. operaciontriunfo.us’ and organization as ‘operaciontriunfo.us,’ there is no evidence before the Panel that Respondent was actually commonly known by the [<operaciontriunfo.us>] domain name.”).
Respondent’s <searsgaragedoors.net> domain name resolves to a website offering garage doors and related services in direct competition with Complainant. The Panel finds that intentionally diverting Internet users to a competing website by using a confusingly similar domain name is neither a bona fide offering of goods and services pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(i), nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See 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.”); 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.
Respondent’s use of the <searsgaragedoors.net> domain name to offer the sale of garage doors and related services in direct competition with Complainant is evidence of bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Nokia Corp. v. Private, D2000-1271 (WIPO Nov. 3, 2000) (finding bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) where the domain name resolved to a website that offered similar products as those sold under the complainant’s famous mark); see also Busy Body, Inc. v. Fitness Outlet, Inc., D2000-0127 (WIPO Apr. 22, 2000) (finding bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) because the respondent and the complainant were in the same line of business and the respondent was using a domain name confusingly similar to the complainant’s FITNESS WAREHOUSE mark to attract Internet users to its <efitnesswarehouse.com> domain name).
In addition, Respondent’s use of the <searsgaragedoors.net> domain name to directly compete with Complainant is further evidence of bad faith. The Panel finds that a registered domain name used primarily to disrupt the business of a competitor demonstrates bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See Surface Prot. Indus., Inc. v. Webposters, D2000-1613 (WIPO Feb. 5, 2001) (finding that, given the competitive relationship between the complainant and the respondent, the respondent likely registered the contested domain name with the intent to disrupt the complainant's business and create user confusion); 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).”).
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 <searsgaragedoors.net> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Tyrus R. Atkinson, Jr., Panelist
Dated: November 7, 2008
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