Lacoste S.A. v. Lenawoo
Claim Number: FA0902001249698
Complainant is Lacoste S.A. (“Complainant”), represented by Stephen Stern, of Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Australia. Respondent is Lenawoo (“Respondent”), Iran.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <lacosteshop.com>, registered with Onlinenic, 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.
Sandra J. Franklin as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on February 25, 2009; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on March 6, 2009.
On March 4, 2009, Onlinenic, Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <lacosteshop.com> domain name is registered with Onlinenic, Inc. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Onlinenic, Inc. has verified that Respondent is bound by the Onlinenic, 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 March 10, 2009, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of March 30, 2009 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 April 7, 2009, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed Sandra J. Franklin 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 <lacosteshop.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s LACOSTE mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <lacosteshop.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <lacosteshop.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Lacoste S.A., is a leading producer and seller of clothing around the world. Complainant owns a number of trademark registrations for its LACOSTE mark, including a number of marks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) (i.e. Reg. No. 879,171 issued March 17, 1969).
Respondent registered the <lacosteshop.com> domain name on March 1, 2004. Respondent’s disputed domain name resolves to a website displaying links to third-party websites unassociated 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 has submitted evidence of its numerous
registrations of the LACOSTE mark with the USPTO and other governmental
trademark authorities worldwide. The
Panel finds that, pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i), Complainant has set forth
satisfactory evidence of its rights in the LACOSTE mark. See
Expedia, Inc. v. Emmerson, FA 873346 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 9, 2007)
(“Complainant’s trademark registrations with the USPTO adequately demonstrate
its rights in the [EXPEDIA] mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).”); see also Victoria's Secret Stores Brand Mgmt., Inc. v.
Machuszek, FA 945052 (Nat. Arb.
Forum May 7, 2007) (finding that “Complainant has established rights in the
Respondent’s disputed domain name contains Complainant’s mark in its entirety, adds the generic term “shop,” and adds the generic top-level domain (“gTLD”) “.com.” The Panel finds that the addition of generic terms, especially generic terms with an obvious relationship to Complainant’s business, create a confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the mark. 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); 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 . . . ."). Therefore, Respondent’s disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s LACOSTE mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).
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). The Panel finds that Complainant has made a sufficient prima facie case. 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).
Since Respondent failed 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 implicitly asserts that Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name through evidence of Respondent’s WHOIS information. Respondent’s WHOIS information identifies Respondent as “Lenawoo.” The Panel finds that Respondent’s failure to respond to the Complaint and the WHOIS information demonstrate that Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name. Therefore, pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii), Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. See G.D. Searle & Co. v. Cimock, FA 126829 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 13, 2003) (“Due to the fame of Complainant’s mark there must be strong evidence that Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name in order to find that Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). However, there is no evidence on record, and Respondent has not come forward with any proof to establish that it is commonly known as CELEBREXRX or <celebrexrx.com>.”); see also 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).
Respondent is using the <lacosteshop.com> domain name to display links advertising third-party websites. The Panel infers that Respondent is using the disputed domain name to earn click-through fees, and thus finds that Respondent has not made a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See Wells Fargo & Co. v. Lin Shun Shing, FA 205699 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 8, 2003) (finding that using a domain name to direct Internet traffic to a website featuring pop-up advertisements and links to various third-party websites is neither a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii) because the registrant presumably receives compensation for each misdirected Internet user); see also Disney Enters., Inc. v. Kamble, FA 918556 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 27, 2007) (holding that the operation of a pay-per-click website at a confusingly similar domain name was not a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii)).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
The Panel considers Respondent’s use of the <lacosteshop.com> domain name to intentionally attract Internet users to its website by creating a strong possiblity of confusion with Complainant’s LACOSTE mark and in offering links to third-party websites. The Panel infers that Respondent receives click-through fees for diverting Internet users to third-party websites. Therefore, pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv), the Panel finds Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to constitute bad faith registration and use. See Luck's Music Library v. Stellar Artist Mgmt., FA 95650 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 30, 2000) (finding that the respondent engaged in bad faith use and registration by using domain names that were identical or confusingly similar to the complainant’s mark to redirect users to a website that offered services similar to those offered by the complainant); see also Computerized Sec. Sys., Inc. v. Hu, FA 157321 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 23, 2003) (finding that the respondent’s use of the <saflock.com> domain name to offer goods competing with the complainant’s illustrates the respondent’s bad faith registration and use of the domain name, pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(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 <lacosteshop.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Sandra J. Franklin, Panelist
Dated: April 21, 2009
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