State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Kirra Retail c/o Administrator
Claim Number: FA0904001259091
Complainant is State
Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (“Complainant”), represented by Debra J. Monke, of State Farm Mutual
Automobile Insurance Company,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAMES
The domain names at issue are <statefarmsbank.com> and <statefarmsclaim.com>, registered with Planet Online Corp.
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.
John J. Upchurch as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on April 23, 2009; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on April 24, 2009.
On April 23, 2009, Planet Online Corp. confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <statefarmsbank.com> and <statefarmsclaim.com> domain names are registered with Planet Online Corp. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the names. Planet Online Corp. has verified that Respondent is bound by the Planet Online Corp. 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 30, 2009, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of May 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 email@example.com and 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 John J. Upchurch 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 <statefarmsbank.com> and <statefarmsclaim.com> domain names are confusingly similar to Complainant’s STATE FARM mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <statefarmsbank.com> and <statefarmsclaim.com> domain names.
3. Respondent registered and used the <statefarmsbank.com> and <statefarmsclaim.com> domain names in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, is a national insurance and financial services company that has operated since 1930. Complainant has registered its STATE FARM mark (Reg. No. 1,979,585 issued June 11, 1996) with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”).
Respondent registered the disputed domain names on September 22, 2008. The disputed domain names resolve to websites that contain banner advertisements for various third-party commercial entities.
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’s registration of the STATE FARM mark with the USPTO constitutes sufficient evidence of Complainant’s rights in the mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Vivendi Universal Games v. XBNetVentures Inc., FA 198803 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 11, 2003) (“Complainant's federal trademark registrations establish Complainant's rights in the BLIZZARD mark.”); see also Janus Int’l Holding Co. v. Rademacher, D2002-0201 (WIPO Mar. 5, 2002) ("Panel decisions have held that registration of a mark is prima facie evidence of validity, which creates a rebuttable presumption that the mark is inherently distinctive.").
that the <statefarmsbank.com> and <statefarmsclaim.com> domain
names are confusingly similar to its STATE FARM mark despite: (1) the removal
of the space between the words; (2) the addition of an “s” to the “FARM”
portion of the mark; (3) the addition of the descriptive terms “bank” or
“claim;” and (4) the addition of the generic top-level domain “.com.” The Panel finds that none of the alterations
carry sufficient meaning under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) so as
to thwart a finding of confusing similarity.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark under
Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).
See Bond & Co. Jewelers, Inc. v.
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant has asserted that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain names. Because Complainant has set forth a sufficient prima facie case, Respondent bears the burden of demonstrating that it does have rights or legitimate interests pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). See 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); see also 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.”).
Complainant has denied any authorization on behalf of
Respondent to use the STATE FARM mark in any form. Moreover, the WHOIS listing identifies
Respondent only as “Kirra Retail c/o Administrator.” The Panel therefore finds that Respondent is
not commonly known by the disputed domain names 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
Respondent is using the disputed domain names to resolve to websites that display banner ads for various commercial third parties. The Panel infers that Respondent profits from the receipt of click-through fees, and therefore 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 has engaged in bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) by intentionally creating a likelihood of confusion for commercial gain as to Complainant’s affiliation with Respondent’s confusingly similar disputed domain name and corresponding website, as Respondent merely provides banner ads for third parties. 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 Univ. of Houston Sys. v. Salvia Corp., FA 637920 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 21, 2006) (“Respondent is using the disputed domain name to operate a website which features links to competing and non-competing commercial websites from which Respondent presumably receives referral fees. Such use for Respondent’s own commercial gain is 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 <statefarmsbank.com> and <statefarmsclaim.com> domain names be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
John J. Upchurch, Panelist
Dated: June 5, 2009