G.D. Searle & Co. v. dfrantum
Claim Number: FA0210000128146
Complainant is G.D. Searle & Co., Peapack, NJ (“Complainant”) represented by Paul D. McGrady, Jr., of Ladas & Parry. Respondent is dfrantum, Brea, CA (“Respondent”).
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <celebrexwatcher.com>, registered with ItsYourDomain.com/Innerwise.
The undersigned certifies that she has acted independently and impartially and that to the best of her knowledge she has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding. Hon. Carolyn Marks Johnson sits as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum (the “Forum”) electronically on October 15, 2002; the Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on October 16, 2002.
On October 16, 2002, ItsYourDomain.com/Innerwise confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the domain name <celebrexwatcher.com> is registered with ItsYourDomain.com/Innerwise and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. ItsYourDomain.com/Innerwise verified that Respondent is bound by the ItsYourDomain.com/Innerwise 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 October 16, 2002, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the “Commencement Notification”), setting a deadline of November 5, 2002, 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, using the same contact details and methods as were used for the Commencement Notification, the Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
On November 25, 2002, pursuant to Complainant’s request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed Hon. Carolyn Marks Johnson as Panelist.
Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the “Panel”) finds that the 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 ICANN Policy, ICANN Rules, the 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:
Respondent’s <celebrexwatcher.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s registered CELEBREX mark. Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the <celebrexwatcher.com> domain name. Respondent registered and used the <celebrexwatcher.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, G.D. Searle & Co., holds two domestic trademarks for the CELEBREX mark (U.S. Reg. Nos. 2,321,622 and 2,307,888). Complainant registered these marks on February 22, 2000 and January 11, 2000, respectively, on the Principal Register of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) and has used them in commerce since at least February of 1999. Complainant has also applied for or received trademark registrations in more than 112 countries worldwide for this mark.
Complainant adopted the use of its distinctive CELEBREX mark to market “pharmaceutical products in the nature of anti-inflammatory analgesics” in a global campaign for its anti-arthritic medicine. Under the CELEBREX mark, Complainant receives billions of dollars in annual sales.
Respondent, dfrantum, registered the <celebrexwatcher.com> domain name on July 29, 2002, but is not licensed or otherwise authorized to make use of the CELEBREX mark for any purpose. Respondent’s website has posted no content since its registration.
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 will draw such inferences as the Panel considers appropriate pursuant to paragraph 14(b) of the Rules.
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.
Identical and/or Confusingly Similar
Complainant has established rights in its CELEBREX mark through registration on the Principal Register of the USPTO, as well as by continuous and widespread use of the mark worldwide. Complainant’s consistent use of its fanciful CELEBREX mark demonstrates that it has sufficient rights in the mark to bring this Complaint against Respondent. See Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. MacLeod, D2000-0662 (WIPO Sept. 19, 2000) (finding that the failure of Complainant to register all possible domain names that surround its substantive mark does not hinder Complainant’s rights in the mark. “Trademark owners are not required to create ‘libraries’ of domain names in order to protect themselves”).
The domain name registered by Respondent, <celebrexwatcher.com>, is confusingly similar to Complainant’s fanciful CELEBREX mark. The only difference between Respondent’s domain name and the registered mark of Complainant is the addition of the top-level domain “.com” after the mark and the addition of the generic word “watcher.” As top-level domains are a required feature for each domain name, the “.com” in the disputed domain name does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity. See Busy Body, Inc. v. Fitness Outlet Inc., D2000-0127 (WIPO Apr. 22, 2000) (finding that "the addition of the generic top-level domain (gTLD) name ‘.com’ is . . . without legal significance since use of a gTLD is required of domain name registrants"); see also Visit Am., Inc. v. Visit Am., FA 95093 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 14, 2000) (finding that the “.com” is part of the Internet address and does not add source identity significance).
The addition of the generic word “watcher” to Complainant’s registered CELEBREX mark also fails to sufficiently differentiate the disputed domain name from Complainant’s mark. The dominant feature of the disputed domain name remains Complainant’s fanciful CELEBREX mark, while the generic word “watcher” does nothing to distinguish the domain name from the CELEBREX mark. See Pfizer, Inc. v. Papol Suger, D2002-0187 (WIPO Apr. 24, 2002) (finding that because the subject domain name incorporates the VIAGRA mark in its entirety, and deviates only by the addition of the word “bomb,” the domain name is rendered confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark); see also Arthur Guinness Son & Co. (Dublin) Ltd. v. Healy/BOSTH, D2001-0026 (WIPO Mar. 23, 2001) (finding confusing similarity where the domain name in dispute contains the identical mark of Complainant combined with a generic word or term).
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the <celebrexwatcher.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s registered and distinctive CELEBREX mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).
Rights to or Legitimate Interests
The burden of proving a lack of rights or legitimate interests in a domain name rests initially upon Complainant. Under Policy ¶¶ 4(c)(i)-(iii), Respondent may rely on a “bona fide offering of goods or services” connected with the disputed domain name, the fact that it has been “commonly known by the domain name,” or that it is making a “legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name” to demonstrate a right or legitimate interest in a domain name. If Complainant rebuts each of these elements, it has satisfied its burden by successfully addressing any of the specified claims Respondent could make under Policy ¶¶ 4(c)(i)-(iii), thereby shifting the burden to Respondent. See G.D. Searle v. Martin Mktg., FA 118277 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 1, 2002) (holding where Complainant has asserted that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name, it is incumbent on 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 Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, D2000-0624 (WIPO Aug. 21, 2000) (finding that once Complainant asserts that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain, the burden shifts to Respondent to provide credible evidence that substantiates its claim of rights and legitimate interests in the domain name).
Respondent’s failure to respond to the Complaint is evidence of a lack of legitimate rights or interests in the <celebrexwatcher.com> domain name. See Clerical Med. Inv. Group Ltd. v. Clericalmedical.com, D2000-1228 (WIPO Nov. 28, 2000) (finding that under certain circumstances the mere assertion by Complainant that Respondent has no right or legitimate interest is sufficient to shift the burden of proof to Respondent to demonstrate that such a right or legitimate interest does exist); see also Pavillion Agency, Inc. v. Greenhouse Agency Ltd., D2000-1221 (WIPO Dec. 4, 2000) (finding that Respondents’ failure to respond can be construed as an admission that they have no legitimate interest in the domain names).
Respondent has made no use of the infringing domain name since its registration. In registering an infringing domain name that is confusingly similar to Complainant’s registered and distinctive mark, while failing to make any use of the domain name, Respondent is not making a bona fide offering of goods or services, or legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name under Policy ¶¶ 4(c)(i) and (iii). See Nike, Inc. v. Crystal Int’l, D2001-0102 (WIPO Mar. 19, 2001) (finding no rights or legitimate interests where Respondent made no use of the infringing domain names); see also Ziegenfelder Co. v. VMH Enter., Inc., D2000-0039 (WIPO Mar. 14, 2000) (finding that failure to provide a product or service or develop the site demonstrates that Respondents have not established any rights or legitimate interests in the domain name); see also Am. Home Prod. Corp. v. Malgioglio, D2000-1602 (WIPO Feb. 19, 2001) (finding no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name <solgarvitamins.com> where Respondent merely passively held the domain name).
Furthermore, given the fanciful nature of Complainant’s registered CELEBREX mark, it is doubtful that Respondent could show a legitimate noncommercial fair use of the disputed domain name, or offer any bona fide goods or services under it. The very nature of Complainant’s mark shifts the burden to Respondent to prove rights or interests in the infringing domain name. See Alitalia –Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A v. Colour Digital, D2000-1260 (WIPO Nov. 23, 2000) (finding bad faith where Respondent made no use of the domain name in question and where there are no other indications that Respondent could have registered and used the domain name in question for any non-infringing purpose); see also Body Shop Int’l PLC v. CPIC NET & Hussain, D2000-1214 (Nov. 26, 2000) (finding bad faith where (1) Respondent failed to use the domain name and (2) it is clear that Respondent registered the domain name as an opportunistic attempt to gain from the goodwill of Complainant).
As Respondent offered no submission in this dispute, the Panel draws all appropriate inferences in favor of Complainant’s submitted facts, and finds that Complainant has adequately met its burden under Policy ¶¶ 4(c)(i) and (iii). See Vertical Solutions Mgmt., Inc. v. webnet-marketing, inc., FA 95095 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 31, 2000) (failure to respond allows all reasonable inferences of fact in the allegations of Complainant to be deemed true); see also Ziegenfelder Co. v. VMH Enter., Inc., D2000-0039 (WIPO Mar. 14, 2000) (drawing two inferences based on Respondent’s failure to respond: (1) that Respondent does not deny the facts asserted by Complainant, and (2) Respondent does not deny conclusions that Complainant asserts can be drawn from the facts).
Complainant has not authorized Respondent to use its CELEBREX mark and Respondent’s contact information implies that it is not “commonly known by” the name CELEBREXWATCHER or <celebrexwatcher.com>. Furthermore, as Complainant’s mark is a fanciful term, specifically coined by Complainant, it is doubtful that anyone other than Complainant could claim to be “commonly known by” a derivative of the mark. See Stork Rest. v. Sahati, 166 F.2d 348, 76 U.S.P.Q. 374 (9th Cir. 1948) (greater degree of protection given to fanciful marks than to names in common use); Aveda Corp. v. Evita Mktg., Inc., 706 F. Supp. 1419, 12 U.S.P.Q.2d 1091, 1098 (D. Minn. 1989) (quoting treatise: "Fanciful marks, if adopted in a bona fide first use, are considered the strongest of marks because their inherent novelty creates a substantial impact on the buyer's mind"). In light of Respondent’s failure to offer any evidence that it has ever been commonly known by the disputed domain name, the Panel concludes that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See RMO, Inc. v. Burbridge, FA 96949 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 16, 2001) (interpreting Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii) "to require a showing that one has been commonly known by the domain name prior to registration of the domain name to prevail").
Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <celebrexwatcher.com> domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).
Registration and Use in Bad Faith
Policy paragraph 4(b) lists four examples evidencing bad faith use and registration of a domain name. However, that list is not an exhaustive set of every conceivable circumstance of bad faith registration and use of a domain name. See Cellular One Group v. Brien, D2000-0028 (WIPO Mar. 10, 2000) (finding that the criteria specified in 4(b) of the Policy is not an exhaustive list of bad faith evidence); see also Home Interiors & Gifts, Inc. v. Home Interiors, D2000-0010 (WIPO Mar. 7, 2000) (“[J]ust because Respondent’s conduct does not fall within the ‘particular’ circumstances set out in ¶4(b), does not mean that the domain names at issue were not registered in and are not being used in bad faith”).
An example of bad faith registration not enumerated in the Policy is registration of an infringing domain name when Respondent had constructive or actual notice of Complainant’s mark prior to registration. See Pfizer, Inc. v. Internet Gambiano Prods., D2002-0325 (WIPO June 20, 2002) (finding Respondent “was aware of and had knowledge of” Complainant’s mark when registering the domain name because Complainant’s mark was a coined arbitrary term with no meaning apart from Complainant’s products). In this dispute, Respondent could only have registered a domain name that included Complainant’s fanciful mark in its entirety, along with a phrase describing Complainant’s product, with knowledge of Complainant’s mark. The Panel finds that Respondent’s registration of <celebrexwatcher.com> was committed with actual knowledge of Complainant’s mark, and was done in bad faith. See Samsonite Corp. v. Colony Holding, FA 94313 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 17, 2000) (finding that evidence of bad faith includes actual or constructive knowledge of a commonly known mark at the time of registration).
Respondent’s passive holding of the disputed domain name is evidence of bad faith use. See DCI S.A. v. Link Commercial Corp., D2000-1232 (WIPO Dec. 7, 2000) (concluding that Respondent’s passive holding of the domain name satisfies the requirement of ¶ 4(a)(iii) of the Policy); see also Phat Fashions v. Kruger, FA 96193 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 29, 2000) (finding bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) even though Respondent has not used the domain name because “It makes no sense whatever to wait until it actually ‘uses’ the name, when inevitably, when there is such use, it will create the confusion described in the Policy”); see also Alitalia –Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A v. Colour Digital, D2000-1260 (WIPO Nov. 23, 2000) (finding bad faith where Respondent made no use of the domain name in question and there are no other indications that Respondent could have registered and used the domain name in question for any non-infringing purpose). While Respondent has not held onto its infringing domain name for an excessive period of time, Complainant has alleged that the very nature of its fanciful CELEBREX mark creates a situation where good faith use of the domain name by Respondent would be implausible at best. As Respondent submitted no evidence either rebutting this assertion or demonstrating a plan for the domain name to the contrary, the Panel concludes that Respondent has no good faith use planned for the disputed domain name. The lack of potentiality for a good faith use of the disputed domain name, under these circumstances, allows the Panel to conclude that Respondent’s lack of use of the infringing domain name equates to use of the domain name in bad faith. See Charles Jourdan Holding AG v. AAIM, D2000-0403 (WIPO June 27, 2000) (finding it appropriate for the Panel to draw adverse inferences from Respondent’s failure to reply to the Complaint); see also Vertical Solutions Mgmt., Inc. v. webnet-marketing, inc., FA 95095 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 31, 2000) (failure to respond allows all reasonable inferences of fact in the allegations of Complainant to be deemed true).
Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent both registered and used the <celebrexwatcher.com> domain name in bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii).
Having established all three elements under ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be hereby GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <celebrexwatcher.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Hon. Carolyn Marks Johnson, Panelist
Dated: December 9, 2002.
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