American Suzuki Motor Corp. v. RaveClub Berlin
Claim Number: FA0209000124497
Complainant is American Suzuki Motor Corp., Brea, CA (“Complainant”). Respondent is RaveClub Berlin, Cherry Hill, NJ (“Respondent”).
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <suzukicycle.com>, registered with Joker.com.
The undersigned certifies that she has acted independently and impartially and to the best of her knowledge has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding.
Sandra Franklin as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum (the “Forum”) electronically on August 30, 2002; the Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on September 3, 2002.
On September 3, 2002, Joker.com confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the domain name <suzukicycle.com> is registered with Joker.com and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Joker.com has verified that Respondent is bound by the Joker.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 September 3, 2002, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the “Commencement Notification”), setting a deadline of September 23, 2002 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, using the same contact details and methods as were used for the Commencement Notification, the Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
On October 8, 2002, pursuant to Complainant’s request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed Sandra Franklin as Panelist.
Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the “Panel”) finds that the 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 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.
The <suzukicycle.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant's SUZUKI mark.
Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Respondent did not submit a Response.
Complainant has registered its SUZUKI mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office as Registration Number 910,353. Complainant uses the mark in relation to motorcycles, and it is recognized internationally. Complainant holds the registration for <suzukicycles.com> and uses the domain name for advertising and marketing purposes.
Respondent registered the disputed domain name <suzukicycle.com> on September 10, 2001. Respondent is using the disputed domain name to redirect Internet users to a pornographic website. Respondent (RaveClub Berlin) is the alter ego of the well-known cybersquatter John Zuccarini, who has been the Respondent in numerous domain name disputes involving infringing domain names.
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 the 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.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that the 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.
Identical and/or Confusingly Similar
Complainant has established that it has rights in the SUZUKI mark through registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and continuous use.
Respondent’s <suzukicycle.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark because SUZUKI is the dominant element of the domain name and the additional word “cycle” is descriptive of Complainant’s business of manufacturing and selling motorcycles. The addition of a term that describes Complainant‘s business does not create a distinct domain name capable of overcoming a claim of confusing similarity. See Space Imaging LLC v. Brownwell, AF-0298 (eResolution Sept. 22, 2000) (finding confusing similarity where Respondent’s domain name combines Complainant’s mark with a generic term that has an obvious relationship to Complainant’s business); see also Brown & Bigelow, Inc. v. Rodela, FA 96466 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 5, 2001) (finding that the <hoylecasino.net> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s HOYLE mark, and that the addition of “casino,” a generic word describing the type of business in which Complainant is engaged, does not take the disputed domain name out of the realm of confusing similarity).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Rights or Legitimate Interests
Respondent has failed to come forward with a Response. Therefore, it is presumed that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. See Pavillion Agency, Inc. v. Greenhouse Agency Ltd., D2000-1221 (WIPO Dec. 4, 2000) (finding that Respondents’ failure to respond can be construed as an admission that they have no legitimate interest in the domain names).
Furthermore, when Respondent fails to submit a Response the Panel is permitted to make all inferences in favor of Complainant. See 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”).
Respondent is using a confusingly similar domain name in order to divert Internet users to a pornographic website. The use of a domain name, confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark, in relation to an adult-orientated website is not considered to be connection with 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 Brown & Bigelow, Inc. v. Rodela, FA 96466 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 5, 2001) (finding that infringing on another's well-known mark to provide a link to a pornographic site is not a legitimate or fair use); see also MatchNet plc. v. MAC Trading, D2000-0205 (WIPO May 11, 2000) (finding that it is not a bona fide offering of goods or services to use a domain name for commercial gain by attracting Internet users to third party sites offering sexually explicit and pornographic material where such use is calculated to mislead consumers and to tarnish Complainant’s mark).
Respondent is known as RaveClub Berlin and John Zuccarini, but there is no evidence on record that Respondent is commonly known as SUZUKI, SUZUKI CYCLE or <suzukicycle.com>. Respondent has come forward with no evidence, therefore it has failed to establish that it has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Gallup Inc. v. Amish Country Store, FA 96209 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 23, 2001) (finding that Respondent does not have rights in a domain name when Respondent is not known by the mark); see also Charles Jourdan Holding AG v. AAIM, D2000-0403 (WIPO June 27, 2000) (finding no rights or legitimate interests where (1) Respondent is not a licensee of Complainant; (2) Complainant’s prior rights in the domain name precede Respondent’s registration; (3) Respondent is not commonly known by the domain name in question).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Registration and Use in Bad Faith
Respondent is using a domain name that is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark in order to create a likelihood of confusion for Respondent’s own commercial gain. Furthermore, Respondent is diverting Internet users to a pornographic website, which tarnishes Complainant’s good will. Respondent’s behavior is considered to be evidence of bad faith use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See MatchNet plc. v. MAC Trading, D2000-0205 (WIPO May 11, 2000) (finding that the association of a confusingly similar domain name with a pornographic website can constitute bad faith); see also Ty, Inc. v. O.Z. Names, D2000-0370 (WIPO June 27, 2000) (finding that absent contrary evidence, linking the domain names in question to graphic, adult-oriented websites is evidence of bad faith).
Furthermore, based on the well-known nature of Complainant’s SUZUKI mark it can be inferred that Respondent had actual knowledge of Complainant’s rights in the mark when it registered the infringing domain name <suzukicycle.com>. Registration of an infringing domain name, despite knowledge of Complainant’s rights is evidence of bad faith registration pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii). See Entrepreneur Media, Inc. v. Smith, 279 F.3d 1135, 1148 (9th Cir. Feb. 11, 2002) (finding that "[w]here an alleged infringer chooses a mark he knows to be similar to another, one can infer an intent to confuse"); see also Samsonite Corp. v. Colony Holding, FA 94313 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 17, 2000) (finding that evidence of bad faith includes actual or constructive knowledge of a commonly known mark at the time of registration).
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 the requested relief shall be hereby GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the domain name <suzukicycle.com> be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Sandra Franklin, Panelist
Dated: October 18, 2002
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