Sears Brands, LLC v. Philip Maher
Claim Number: FA0904001258063
Complainant is Sears Brands, LLC (“Complainant”), represented by David
A. Wheeler, of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Illinois, USA. Respondent is Philip Maher (“Respondent”),
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <kmartgiftcardnow.com>, registered with Moniker Online Services, Inc.
The undersigned certifies that he has acted independently and impartially and, to the best of his knowledge, has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding.
The Honorable Charles K. McCotter, Jr. (Ret.) as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on April 16, 2009; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on April 17, 2009.
On April 17, 2009, Moniker Online Services, Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <kmartgiftcardnow.com> domain name is registered with Moniker Online Services, Inc. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Moniker Online Services, Inc. has verified that Respondent is bound by the Moniker Online Services, 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 April 22, 2009, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of May 12, 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 19, 2009, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed the Honorable Charles K. McCotter, Jr. (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 <kmartgiftcardnow.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s KMART mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <kmartgiftcardnow.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <kmartgiftcardnow.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Sears Brands, LLC, with its affiliate, Kmart,
Inc., is the third largest retailer in the
Respondent registered the <kmartgiftcardnow.com> domain name on November 7, 2008. The disputed domain name resolves to website offering Complainant’s gift cards.
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 has sufficiently
established rights in the KMART mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) because it holds a
registration of its mark with the USTPO.
See Miller Brewing
Respondent’s <kmartgiftcardnow.com> domain name contains Complainant’s entire mark, adds the generic terms “gift,” “card,” “now,” and the generic top-level domain (“gTLD”) “.com.” The Panel finds that none of these additions to Complainant’s mark distinguish the <kmartgiftcardnow.com> domain name from Complainant’s KMART mark, and accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Oki Data Ams., Inc. v. ASD, Inc., D2001-0903 (WIPO Nov. 6, 2001) (“[T]he fact that a domain name wholly incorporates a Complainant’s registered mark is sufficient to establish identity [sic] or confusing similarity for purposes of the Policy despite the addition of other words to such marks”); see also Google Inc. v. Xtraplus Corp., D2001-0125 (WIPO Apr. 16, 2001) (finding that the respondent’s domain names were confusingly similar to Complainant’s GOOGLE mark where the respondent merely added common terms such as “buy” or “gear” to the end); see also Jerry Damson, Inc. v. Tex. Int’l Prop. Assocs., FA 916991 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 10, 2007) (“The mere addition of a generic top-level domain (“gTLD”) “.com” does not serve to adequately distinguish the Domain Name from the mark.”).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
At the outset, Complainant must make a prima facie showing that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The burden then shifts to Respondent and Respondent must establish that it has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel finds that Complainant has sufficiently made its prima facie showing under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). 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 G.D. Searle v. Martin Mktg., FA 118277 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 1, 2002) (“Because Complainant’s Submission constitutes a prima facie case under the Policy, the burden effectively shifts to Respondent. Respondent’s failure to respond means that Respondent has not presented any circumstances that would promote its rights or legitimate interests in the subject domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).”).
Respondent’s <kmartgiftcardnow.com> domain name resolves to a website that contains an offer for Complainant’s product. Accordingly, the Panel finds that this diverts Internet users to Respondent’s website that purports to sell Complainant’s product is 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 Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Ass’n v. Halpern, D2000-0700 (WIPO Dec. 10, 2000) (finding that domain names used to sell the complainant’s goods without the complainant’s authority, as well as others’ goods, is not bona fide use); see also Bank of Am. Corp. v. Nw. Free Cmty. Access, FA 180704 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 30, 2003) (“Respondent’s demonstrated intent to divert Internet users seeking Complainant’s website to a website of Respondent and for Respondent’s benefit is not a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) and it is not a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii).”).
Furthermore, Respondent is listed in the WHOIS information as “Philip Maher,” which does not indicate that Respondent is commonly known by the <kmartgiftcardnow.com> domain name. Respondent has not offered any evidence to indicate otherwise. The Panel finds that Respondent is not commonly known by 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 Wells Fargo & Co. v. Onlyne Corp. Services11, Inc., FA 198969 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 17, 2003) (“Given the WHOIS contact information for the disputed domain [name], one can infer that Respondent, Onlyne Corporate Services11, is not commonly known by the name ‘welsfargo’ in any derivation.”).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
The Panel finds that Respondent’s actions, which include purporting to sell Complainant’s product, constitute bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See G.D. Searle & Co. v. Celebrex Cox-2 Vioxx.com, FA 124508 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 16, 2002) (“Unauthorized use of Complainant’s CELEBREX mark to sell Complainant’s products represents bad faith use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii).”); see also Caterpillar Inc. v. Vine, FA 97097 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 22, 2001) (“Respondent registered each of the disputed domain names in order to gain customers and to disrupt Complainant's business of authorizing dealers to sell its CATERPILLAR equipment.”).
In addition, the Panel finds that Respondent is using the confusingly similar <kmartgiftcardnow.com> domain name to sell Complainant’s products, creating a likelihood of confusion as to Complainant’s affiliation with the disputed domain name, and thus, is evidence of bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) because Respondent is trading off the goodwill surrounding Complainant’s mark. See Hunter Fan Co. v. MSS, FA 98067 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 23, 2001) (finding bad faith where the respondent used the disputed domain name to sell the complainant’s products without permission and mislead Internet users by implying that the respondent was affiliated with the complainant); see also Utensilerie Assoc. S.p.A. v. C & M, D2003-0159 (WIPO Apr. 22, 2003) (“The contents of the website, offering Usag products, together with the domain name may create the (incorrect) impression that Respondent is either the exclusive distributor or a subsidiary of Complainant, or at the very least that Complainant has approved its use of the domain name.”).
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 <kmartgiftcardnow.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
The Honorable Charles K. McCotter, Jr. (Ret.), Panelist
Dated: May 27, 2009
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