Bellagio, LLC v. Dominic Torrino c/o Bellagio Limousines
Claim Number: FA0904001258167
Complainant is Bellagio, LLC (“Complainant”), represented by Adil
Khan, of Glaser, Weil, Fink, Jacobs Howard &
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <bellagiolimousines.com>, registered with Tucows 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.
Honorable Karl V. Fink (Ret.) as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on April 17, 2009; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on April 20, 2009.
On April 20, 2009, Tucows Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <bellagiolimousines.com> domain name is registered with Tucows Inc. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Tucows Inc. has verified that Respondent is bound by the Tucows 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 28, 2009, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of May 18, 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 May 22, 2009, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed Honorable Karl V. Fink (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 <bellagiolimousines.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s BELLAGIO mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <bellagiolimousines.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <bellagiolimousines.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Bellagio, LLC, provides hotel, casino and other related services under its BELLAGIO mark, which it first registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) on October 7, 2003 (Reg. No. 2,771,155).
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on July 4, 2008. The disputed domain name resolves to a website that mimics Complainant’s marketing schematics and purports to offer limousine services, a service Complainant legitimately offers to its customers.
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 provided evidence of the registration of its
BELLAGIO mark with the USPTO. The Panel
finds this evidence meets the requirements under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i)
to establish Complainant’s rights in its BELLAGIO mark. See
Respondent’s <bellagiolimousines.com> domain name incorporates Complainant’s mark and merely adds the descriptive term “limousines” and the generic top-level domain “.com.” The term “limousines” is descriptive because Complainant offers limousine services to its customers. The Panel finds these alterations do not diminish, but rather heighten the confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and Complainant’s mark. Thus, the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See 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).”); see also Allianz of Am. Corp. v. Bond, FA 680624 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 2, 2006) (finding that the addition of the generic term “finance,” which described the complainant’s financial services business, as well as a gTLD, did not sufficiently distinguish the respondent’s disputed domain name from the complainant’s mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i)).
The Panel finds Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant has alleged Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Complainant is required to produce a prima facie case in support of its allegations and then the burden shifts to Respondent to prove it possesses rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel finds Complainant has adequately established a prima facie case. Due to Respondent’s failure to respond to these proceedings, the Panel may assume Respondent does not possess rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel, however, will examine the record to determine whether Respondent possesses rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c). See 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).”); see also Am. Express Co. v. Fang Suhendro, FA 129120 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 30, 2002) (“[B]ased on Respondent's failure to respond, it is presumed that Respondent lacks all rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.”).
The WHOIS information lists Respondent as “Dominic Torrino c/o Bellagio Limousines.” However, Complainant asserts Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name. Respondent has failed to show any evidence contrary to Complainant’s contentions, and there is no other evidence outside of the WHOIS information that Respondent has ever been known by this identity. Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Nature’s Path Foods Inc. v. Natures Path, Inc., FA 237452 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 2, 2004) (“In its WHOIS contact information, Respondent lists its name and its administrative contact as ‘Natures Path, Inc.’ However, since Respondent failed to respond to the Complaint, there has not been any affirmative evidence provided to the Panel showing that Respondent was commonly known by the disputed domain name prior to its registration of the domain name.”); see also Gestmusic Endemol, S.A. v. operaciontriunfo.us, FA 214337 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 14, 2004) (“Though Respondent’s WHOIS information lists Respondent’s name as ‘o. operaciontriunfo.us’ and organization as ‘operaciontriunfo.us,’ there is no evidence before the Panel that Respondent was actually commonly known by the [<operaciontriunfo.us>] domain name.”).
Respondent’s disputed domain name resolves to a website that mimics Complainant’s marketing schematics. The Panel finds that Respondent is attempting to passing itself off as Complainant in order to offer limousine services in competition with Complainant’s own offering of such services. This does not qualify as 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 Am. Int’l Group, Inc. v. Benjamin, FA 944242 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 11, 2007) (Panelist Tyrus R. Atkinson, Jr., dissenting) (finding that the respondent’s use of a confusingly similar domain name to advertise real estate services which competed with the complainant’s business did 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 also Dream Horse Classifieds v. Mosley, FA 381256 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 8, 2005) (finding the respondent’s attempt to pass itself off as the complainant by implementing a color scheme identical to the complainant’s was evidence that respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii)).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Respondent is using a confusingly similar disputed domain name, as well as a resolving website that mimics Complainant’s marketing schematics in order to offer services similar to those offered by Complainant. The Panel finds Respondent has engaged in bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See 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).”); see also Instron Corp. v. Kaner, FA 768859 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 21, 2006) (finding that the respondent registered and used the disputed domain names in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii) by using the disputed domain names to operate websites that compete with the complainant’s business).
Furthermore, Respondent has created a likelihood of confusion as to the source and endorsement by Complainant of the disputed domain name and corresponding website. Respondent has attempted to pass itself off as Complainant in an attempt to profit from the goodwill Complainant has established in its BELLAGIO mark. The Panel finds that Respondent has engaged in bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Nokia Corp. v. Private, D2000-1271 (WIPO Nov. 3, 2000) (finding bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) where the domain name resolved to a website that offered similar products as those sold under the complainant’s famous mark); see also Am. Online, Inc. v. Miles, FA 105890 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 31, 2002) (“Respondent is using the domain name at issue to resolve to a website at which Complainant’s trademarks and logos are prominently displayed. Respondent has done this with full knowledge of Complainant’s business and trademarks. The Panel finds that this conduct is that which is prohibited by Paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.”).
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 <bellagiolimousines.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Honorable Karl V. Fink (Ret.), Panelist
Dated: June 5, 2009
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