Stevland Morris a/k/a Stevie Wonder, Taxi Productions, Inc. and Taxi License Corporation v. Counter Balance c/o CounterBalanceEnterprisesLimited
Claim Number: FA0903001253776
Complainant is Stevland Morris a/k/a Stevie Wonder, Taxi Productions, Inc and Taxi License Corporation (“Complainant”), represented by Stephen J. Strauss, of Fulwider Patton LLP, California, USA. Respondent is Counter Balance c/o CounterBalanceEnterprisesLimited (“Respondent”), Thailand.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <kjlh.org>, 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.
Sandra J. Franklin as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on March 23, 2009; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on March 25, 2009.
On March 24, 2009, eNom, Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <kjlh.org> 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 March 30, 2009, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of April 20, 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 27, 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 <kjlh.org> domain name is identical to Complainant’s KJLH mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <kjlh.org> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <kjlh.org> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Stevland Morris a/k/a Stevie Wonder, Taxi Productions, Inc., owns and operates the FM radio station KJLH. Complainant has used the KJLH mark in connection with their radio station since 1978. Complainant does not have a trademark registration for the KJLH mark.
Respondent registered the <kjlh.org> domain name on June 11, 2004. Respondent’s disputed domain name resolves to a website displaying a search engine and third-party links.
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 does not have a registered trademark for the KJLH mark. However, registration is unnecessary pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i), provided Complainant can establish common law rights in the mark through a showing of secondary meaning. See SeekAmerica Networks Inc. v. Masood, D2000-0131 (WIPO Apr. 13, 2000) (finding that the Rules do not require that the complainant's trademark or service mark be registered by a government authority or agency for such rights to exist); see also British Broad. Corp. v. Renteria, D2000-0050 (WIPO Mar. 23, 2000) (noting that the Policy “does not distinguish between registered and unregistered trademarks and service marks in the context of abusive registration of domain names” and applying the Policy to “unregistered trademarks and service marks”).
Complainant has established common law rights in the KJLH mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) through its history of continuous use and showing of secondary meaning. Complainant has used the KJLH mark in connection with its radio station since 1978. In addition, Complainant owns and operates the <kjlhradio.com>, <kjlh.com>, and <kjlh.net> domain names. The Panel finds that Complainant has established common law rights by acquiring a secondary meaning in the KJLH mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Tuxedos By Rose v. Nunez, FA 95248 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 17, 2000) (finding common law rights in a mark where its use was continuous and ongoing, and secondary meaning was established); see also Kahn Dev. Co. v. RealtyPROshop.com, FA 568350 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 23, 2006) (holding that the complainant’s VILLAGE AT SANDHILL mark acquired secondary meaning among local consumers sufficient to establish common law rights where the complainant had been continuously and extensively promoting a real estate development under the mark for several years).
Complainant argues that Respondent’s <kjlh.org> domain name is identical to Complainant’s KJLH mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). Respondent’s disputed domain name contains Complainant’s mark in its entirety and adds the generic top-level domain (“gTLD”) “.org.” The Panel finds that the addition of a gTLD is irrelevant in distinguishing the disputed domain name from Complainant’s registered mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Microsoft Corp. v. Mehrotra, D2000-0053 (WIPO Apr. 10, 2000) (finding that the domain name <microsoft.org> is identical to the complainant’s mark); see also Sea World, Inc. v. JMXTRADE.com, FA 872052 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 12, 2007) (“[Since] [t]he top-level gTLD is merely a functional element required of every domain name, the <shamu.org> domain name is identical to the SHAMU mark under a Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).”). Therefore, he Panel finds that Respondent’s disputed domain name is identical to Complainant’s 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 <kjlh.org> domain name. When Complainant makes a prima facie case in support of its allegations, the burden is shifted to Respondent to prove that it does have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). The Panel finds that in this case, Complainant has established a prima facie case. See Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. v. Samjo CellTech.Ltd, FA 406512 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 9, 2005) (“Complainant has made a prima facie showing that Respondent lacks rights to the Domain Name. The threshold for making such a showing is quite low, since it is difficult to produce evidence to support a negative statement. Here, Complainant has alleged that Respondent does not own any rights in the terms STARWOOD or STARWOODS, and that Respondent’s use of the Domain Name is not a fair one. These unsupported assertions, though sparse, are sufficient to make a prima facie showing in regard to the legitimacy element.”); see also Document Techs., Inc. v. Int’l Elec. Commc’ns Inc., D2000-0270 (WIPO June 6, 2000) (“Although Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that the Complainant prove the presence of this element (along with the other two), once a Complainant makes out a prima facie showing, the burden of production on this factor shifts to the Respondent to rebut the showing by providing concrete evidence that it has rights to or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.”).
Complainant asserts that Respondent is neither commonly known by the disputed domain name, nor licensed to register domain names using the KJLH mark. Respondent’s WHOIS information identifies Respondent as “Counter Balance,” and therefore lacks any characteristics relating it to the disputed domain name. The Panel finds that without affirmative evidence of Respondent being commonly known by the disputed domain name, Respondent lacks all rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domains name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Braun Corp. v. Loney, FA 699652 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 7, 2006) (concluding that the respondent was not commonly known by the disputed domain names where the WHOIS information, as well as all other information in the record, gave no indication that the respondent was commonly known by the disputed domain names, and the complainant had not authorized the respondent to register a domain name containing its registered mark); see also M. Shanken Commc’ns v. WORLDTRAVELERSONLINE.COM, FA 740335 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 3, 2006) (finding that the respondent was not commonly known by the <cigaraficionada.com> domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii) based on the WHOIS information and other evidence in the record).
Respondent is using the <kjlh.org> 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 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)); Constellation Wines U.S., Inc. v. Tex. Int’l Prop. Assocs., FA 948436 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 8, 2007) (finding that the respondent had no rights or legitimate interests under Policy ¶¶ 4(c)(i) or 4(c)(iii) by using the disputed domain name to operate a website featuring links to goods and services unrelated to the complainant).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Respondent’s use of the <kjlh.org> domain name in order to intentionally attract Internet users to its website by creating a strong possiblity of confusion with Complainant’s KJLH mark and offering links to unrelated websites is evidence of bad faith. The Panel infers that Respondent receives click-through fees for diverting Internet users to such websites. Therefore, pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv), the Panel finds such use of the disputed domain name constitutes bad faith registration and use. See Perot Sys. Corp. v. Perot.net, FA 95312 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 29, 2000) (finding bad faith where the domain name in question is obviously connected with the complainant’s well-known marks, thus creating a likelihood of confusion strictly for commercial gain); see also The Ass’n of Junior Leagues Int’l Inc. v. This Domain Name My Be For Sale, FA 857581 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 4, 2007) (holding that the respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to maintain a pay-per-click site displaying links unrelated to the complainant and to generate click-through revenue suggested bad faith registration and use under 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 <kjlh.org> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Sandra J. Franklin, Panelist
Dated: May 11, 2009
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