Sonic Cash, Inc. v. Efextra.net Domain Registrations
Claim Number: FA0810001227977
Complainant is Sonic Cash, Inc. (“Complainant”), represented by Elizabeth
Herbst Schierman, of Dykas, Shaver
& Nipper, LLP,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <soniccash.net>, registered with Directi Internet Solutions Pvt. Ltd. d/b/a Publicd.
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.
Judge Harold Kalina (Ret.) as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on October 6, 2008; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on October 6, 2008.
On October 9, 2008, Directi Internet Solutions Pvt. Ltd. d/b/a Publicd confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <soniccash.net> domain name is registered with Directi Internet Solutions Pvt. Ltd. d/b/a Publicd and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Directi Internet Solutions Pvt. Ltd. d/b/a Publicd has verified that Respondent is bound by the Directi Internet Solutions Pvt. Ltd. d/b/a Publicd 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 October 21, 2008, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of November 10, 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 November 12, 2008, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed Judge Harold Kalina (Ret.) 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 <soniccash.net> domain name is identical to Complainant’s SONICCASH mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <soniccash.net> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <soniccash.net> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Sonic Cash, Inc., holds a trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) for the SONICCASH mark (Reg. No. 3,480,116 issued August 5, 2008) in connection with providing short-term, small-amount loans through Complainant’s <soniccash.com> domain name, which Complainant has operated since January 12, 2002.
Respondent registered the <soniccash.net> domain name on April 8, 2005. Respondent is using the disputed domain name to operate a website that offers short-term, small-amount loans in 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.
The Panel finds that Complainant’s registration of its SONICCASH mark with the USPTO is sufficient to establish Complainant’s rights in the mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Innomed Techs., Inc. v. DRP Servs., FA 221171 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 18, 2004) (“Registration of the NASAL-AIRE mark with the USPTO establishes Complainant's rights in the mark.”); see also Vivendi Universal Games v. XBNetVentures Inc., FA 198803 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 11, 2003) (“Complainant's federal trademark registrations establish Complainant's rights in the BLIZZARD mark.”).
The <soniccash.net> domain name incorporates Complainant’s SONICCASH mark
in its entirety and adds the generic top-level domain “.net.” The use of a the generic top-level domain is
without significance to this analysis.
The Panel finds that the <soniccash.net>
domain name is identical to Complainant’s SONICCASH mark pursuant to Policy ¶
See Little Six, Inc. v.
The Panel finds that Complainant has satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).
The initial burden under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) is on Complainant to prove that Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Once Complainant has made a prima facie case, the burden shifts to Respondent to show that it does have rights or legitimate interests pursuant to the directions provided in 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 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”). The Panel finds that Complainant has presented a prima facie case, and the Panel now chooses to consider whether an evaluation of all the evidence demonstrates rights or legitimate interests for Respondent under Policy ¶ 4(c).
Respondent is using the <soniccash.net> domain name to redirect Internet users to Respondent’s commercial website that offeres small-amount, short-term loans in competition with Complainant. Respondent’s use of a domain name that is identical to Complainant’s SONICCASH mark to redirect Internet users interested in Complainant’s services to a website that offers similar services 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 of the domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See eBay Inc. v. Hong, D2000-1633 (WIPO Jan. 18, 2001) (stating that the respondent’s use of the complainant’s entire mark in domain names makes it difficult to infer a legitimate use); see also Coryn Group, Inc. v. Media Insight, FA 198959 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 5, 2003) (finding that the respondent was not using the domain names for a bona fide offering of goods or services nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use because the respondent used the names to divert Internet users to a website that offered services that competed with those offered by the complainant under its marks)
The Panel finds no evidence in the record suggesting that Respondent is commonly known by the <soniccash.net> domain name. Complainant asserts that Respondent has no license or agreement with Complainant authorizing Respondent to use the SONICCASH mark, and the WHOIS information identifies Respondent as “Efextra.net Domain Registrations.” Thus, Respondent has not established rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name under 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 Am. W. Airlines, Inc. v. Paik, FA 206396 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 22, 2003) (“Respondent has registered the domain name under the name ‘Ilyoup Paik a/k/a David Sanders.’ Given the WHOIS domain name registration information, Respondent is not commonly known by the [<awvacations.com>] domain name.”).
The Panel finds that Complainant has satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).
Respondent’s use of Complainant’s SONICCASH mark in the <soniccash.net> domain name to redirect Internet users to Respondent’s competing website suggests that Respondent registered the disputed domain name intending to disrupt Complainant’s business. The Panel finds that this is evidence of bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See S. Exposure v. S. Exposure, Inc., FA 94864 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 18, 2000) (finding that the respondent registered the domain name in question to disrupt the business of the complainant, a competitor of the respondent); 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).”).
Respondent is attempting to profit by creating a likelihood of confusion between Complainant’s mark and Respondent’s competing website by using the identical <soniccash.net> domain name to direct Internet users to its commercial website for financial gain through use of Complainant’s mark. This constitutes bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). 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 Hewlett-Packard Co. v. Ali, FA 353151 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 13, 2004) (“Respondent [used “HP” in its domain name] to benefit from the goodwill associated with Complainant’s HP marks and us[ed] the <hpdubai.com> domain name, in part, to provide products similar to those of Complainant. Respondent’s practice of diversion, motivated by commercial gain, constitutes bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv).”).
The Panel finds that Complainant has satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii).
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <soniccash.net> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Judge Harold Kalina (Ret.), Panelist
Dated: November 21, 2008
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