For Eyes Optical Company v. Network and IT Management
Claim Number: FA0904001255466
Complainant is For Eyes Optical Company (“Complainant”), represented by Wendy C. Larson, Texas, USA. Respondent is Network and IT Management (“Respondent”), Cayman Islands.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <foreyesoptical.com>, registered with Signature.
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 April 1, 2009; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on April 2, 2009.
On April 1, 2009, Signature confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <foreyesoptical.com> domain name is registered with Signature and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Signature has verified that Respondent is bound by the Signature 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 April 8, 2009, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of April 28, 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 email@example.com by e-mail.
Having received no response from Respondent, the National Arbitration Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
On May 4, 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 names be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.
A. Complainant makes the following assertions:
1. Respondent’s <foreyesoptical.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s FOR EYES mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <foreyesoptical.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <foreyesoptical.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, For Eyes Optical Company, is a national leader in retail optical store services and related products. Complainant has over 140 stores throughout the United States. Complainant has several registrations for its FOR EYES mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) (i.e. Reg. No. 1,132,442 issued April 1, 1980).
Respondent registered the <foreyesoptical.com> domain name on January 9, 2005. The disputed domain name resolves to a website that displays commercial links for third party businesses, some of which compete 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 registrations for the FOR EYES mark with the USPTO. Consequently, the Panel finds that Complainant has demonstrated its rights in the mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See UnitedHealth Group Inc. v. Hassan, FA 947081 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 17, 2007) (finding “no difficulty” in holding that the complainant had established rights in its asserted marks for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) through its trademark registrations with the USPTO); see also Lockheed Martin Corp. v. Hoffman, FA 874152 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 31, 2007) (finding that the complainant had sufficiently established rights in the SKUNK WORKS mark through its registration of the mark with the USPTO).
The <foreyesoptical.com> domain name contains the FOR EYES mark along with the descriptive term “optical” and the generic top-level domain “.com.” The Panel notes, as numerous panels have previously found, that the addition of a top-level domain carries no weight when conducting a Policy analysis. See Isleworth Land Co. v. Lost in Space, SA, FA 117330 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 27, 2002) (“[I]t is a well established principle that generic top-level domains are irrelevant when conducting a Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) analysis.”). Moreover, the term “optical” unmistakably refers to Complainant’s retail optical products and services. When a disputed domain name contains a mark and a word that describes or relates to the mark, panels have a propensity of finding that confusing similarity is heightened, and not lessened, due to the inclusion of the word. See, e.g., Whitney Nat’l Bank v. Easynet Ltd, FA 944330 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 30, 2007) (“The additions of generic words with an obvious relationship to Complainant’s business and a gTLD renders the disputed domain name confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).”). Therefore, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant alleges that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Because Complainant has successfully asserted a prima facie case supporting its allegations, Respondent has the burden to prove that it does have rights or legitimate interests under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). See Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, D2000-0624 (WIPO Aug. 21, 2000) (holding that, where the complainant has asserted that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the domain name, it is incumbent on the respondent to come forward with concrete evidence rebutting this assertion because this information is “uniquely within the knowledge and control of the respondent”); 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).
There is no evidence in the record that allows the inference that Respondent is or ever was commonly known by the disputed domain name. The WHOIS information lists Respondent as “Network and IT Management.” Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests under Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Reese v. Morgan, FA 917029 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 5, 2007) (concluding that the respondent was not commonly known by the <lilpunk.com> domain name as there was no evidence in the record showing that the respondent was commonly known by that domain name, including the WHOIS information as well as the complainant’s assertion that it did not authorize or license the respondent’s use of its mark in a domain name); see also Ian Schrager Hotels, L.L.C. v. Taylor, FA 173369 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 25, 2003) (finding that without demonstrable evidence to support the assertion that a respondent is commonly known by a domain name, the assertion must be rejected).
Respondent is using the disputed domain name to resolve to a website that includes click-through links, including some for Complainant’s competitors. The Panel presumes this activity was undertaken to acquire commercial benefit via referral fees. The Panel finds that this does not constitute 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)); see also Vance Int’l, Inc. v. Abend, FA 970871 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 8, 2007) (concluding that the operation of a pay-per-click website at a confusingly similar domain name does not represent a bona fide offering of goods or services or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use, regardless of whether or not the links resolve to competing or unrelated websites or if the respondent is itself commercially profiting from the click-through fees).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
The Panel finds that Respondent’s use of the corresponding website and disputed domain name to host competitive third-party advertisements constitutes a disruption of Complainant’s business, and therefore evidences Respondent’s bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See Mission KwaSizabantu v. Rost, D2000-0279 (WIPO June 7, 2000) (defining “competitor” as “one who acts in opposition to another and the context does not imply or demand any restricted meaning such as commercial or business competitor”); see also DatingDirect.com Ltd. v. Aston, FA 593977 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 28, 2005) (“Respondent is appropriating Complainant’s mark to divert Complainant’s customers to Respondent’s competing business. The Panel finds this diversion is evidence of bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii).”).
Respondent has created a likelihood of confusion as to Complainant’s association or sponsorship of the disputed domain name for commercial gain due to presence of competitive advertisements. The Panel therefore finds that Respondent has engaged in bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Allianz of Am. Corp. v. Bond, FA 680624 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 2, 2006) (finding bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) where the respondent was diverting Internet users searching for the complainant to its own website and likely profiting); see also Asbury Auto. Group, Inc. v. Tex. Int’l Prop. Assocs., FA 958542 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 29, 2007) (finding that the respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to advertise car dealerships that competed with the complainant’s business would likely lead to confusion among Internet users as to the sponsorship or affiliation of those competing dealerships, and was therefore evidence of bad faith registration and use 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 <foreyesoptical.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Sandra J. Franklin, Panelist
Dated: May 11, 2009
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