AARP v. Renaissance Associates, Inc. c/o Thomas T. Taylor
Claim Number: FA0810001230521
Complainant is AARP (“Complainant”), represented by John J. Dabney, of McDermott Will & Emery LLP,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <aarptravel.com>, registered with Enom, 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.
Honorable Paul A. Dorf (Ret.) as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on October 22, 2008; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on October 23, 2008.
On October 22, 2008, Enom, Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <aarptravel.com> domain name is registered with Enom, Inc. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Enom, Inc. has verified that Respondent is bound by the Enom, 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 October 28, 2008, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of November 17, 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 21, 2008. pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed Honorable Paul A. Dorf (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 <aarptravel.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s AARP mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <aarptravel.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <aarptravel.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, AARP, holds several trademark registrations with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) for the AARP mark (i.e., Reg. No. 1,047,005 issued August 24, 1976) in connection with services offered to AARP members. Complainant has been offering travel services to its members since at least 1976 when it registered the above trademark with the USPTO in connection with travel services. Complainant recently partnered with Expedia, Inc. to offer online travel services to its members through Complainant’s <aarp.org> domain name.
Respondent registered the <aarptravel.com> domain name on November 13, 2004. Respondent is using the disputed domain name to list links to third-party websites offering online travel services. On Respondent’s website that resolves from the <totalwebconcepts.com> domain name, Respondent has listed the disputed domain name for sale for $5,686.
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 AARP 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 Planetary Soc’y v. Rosillo, D2001-1228 (WIPO Feb. 12, 2002) (holding that the effective date of the complainant’s trademark rights date back to the application’s filing date); see also Nat’l Abortion Fed’n v. Dom 4 Sale, Inc., FA 170643 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 9, 2003) (“As Complainant's filing date for its valid registration of the NAF NATIONAL ABORTION FEDERATION mark on the Principal Register of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office predates Respondent's registration of the disputed domain name by over a year, this registration is additional evidence of Complainant's rights in the mark.”).
The <aarptravel.com> domain name incorporates Complainant’s entire AARP mark and adds the generic top-level domain “.com” and the term “travel,” which describes a service provided by AARP to its members. The addition of a generic term that describes Complainant’s business renders the disputed domain name confusingly similar to the mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). 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); see also 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 L.L. Bean, Inc. v. ShopStarNetwork, FA 95404 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 14, 2000) (finding that combining the generic word “shop” with the complainant’s registered mark “llbean” does not circumvent the complainant’s rights in the mark nor avoid the confusing similarity aspect of the ICANN Policy).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
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).
The Panel finds no evidence in the record suggesting that Respondent is commonly known by the <aarptravel.com> domain name. Complainant asserts that Respondent has no license or agreement with Complainant authorizing Respondent to use the AARP mark, and the WHOIS information identifies Respondent as “Renaissance Associates, Inc. c/o Thomas T. Taylor.” 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.”).
Respondent is using the <aarptravel.com> domain name to link to third-party websites that offer travel services. Respondent’s use of a domain name that is confusingly similar to Complainant’s AARP mark to redirect Internet users interested in Complainant’s online services to websites that offer competition for those 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 under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See TM Acquisition Corp. v. Sign Guards, FA 132439 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 31, 2002) (finding that the respondent’s diversionary use of the complainant’s marks to send Internet users to a website which displayed a series of links, some of which linked to the complainant’s competitors, was not a bona fide offering of goods or services); see also Tercent Inc. v. Lee Yi, FA 139720 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 10, 2003) (holding that the respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to host a series of hyperlinks and a banner advertisement was neither a bona fide offering of goods or services nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name).
Respondent’s offer to sell the <aarptravel.com> domain name is further evidence that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). See Mothers Against Drunk Driving v. Hyun-Jun Shin, FA 154098 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 27, 2003) (holding that under the circumstances, the respondent’s apparent willingness to dispose of its rights in the disputed domain name suggested that it lacked rights or legitimate interests in the domain name); see also Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Stork, D2000-0628 (WIPO Aug. 11, 2000) (finding the respondent’s conduct purporting to sell the domain name suggests it has no legitimate use).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Respondent offered to sell the disputed domain name by listing it for sale for $5,686 on the website that resolves from the <totalwebconcepts.com> domain name. The Panel finds the general offer to sell the disputed domain name constitutes bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(i). See Bank of Am. Corp. v. Nw. Free Cmty. Access, FA 180704 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 30, 2003) (“Respondent's general offer of the disputed domain name registration for sale establishes that the domain name was registered in bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(b)(i).”); see also Am. Anti-Vivisection Soc’y v. “Infa dot Net” Web Serv., FA 95685 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 6, 2000) (finding that “general offers to sell the domain name, even if no certain price is demanded, are evidence of bad faith”).
Respondent’s use of Complainant’s AARP mark in the <aarptravel.com> domain name to redirect Internet users to competing travel sites 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).”).
The Panel infers that Respondent receives click-through fees for diverting Internet users to third-party websites. Because Respondent’s domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s AARP mark, Internet users accessing Respondent’s disputed domain name may become confused as to Complainant’s affiliation with the resulting website. Thus, Respondent’s use of the <aarptravel.com> domain name constitutes bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See G.D. Searle & Co. v. Celebrex Drugstore, FA 123933 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 21, 2002) (finding that the respondent registered and used the domain name in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) because the respondent was using the confusingly similar domain name to attract Internet users to its commercial website); see also AltaVista Co. v. Krotov, D2000-1091 (WIPO Oct. 25, 2000) (finding bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) where the respondent’s domain name resolved to a website that offered links to third-party websites that offered services similar to the complainant’s services and merely took advantage of Internet user mistakes).
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 <aarptravel.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Honorable Paul A. Dorf (Ret.), Panelist
Dated: December 5, 2008
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