Pelle Pelle, Inc. v. Ion Caza
Claim Number: FA0909001284547
Complainant is Pelle Pelle, Inc. (“Complainant”), represented by Jeffrey
P. Thennisch, of Dobrusin & Thennisch, PC,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <requiemextreme.com>, registered with Godaddy.com, 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.
Hon. Karl V. Fink (Ret.) as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on September 15, 2009; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on September 16, 2009.
On September 16, 2009, Godaddy.com, Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <requiemextreme.com> domain name is registered with Godaddy.com, Inc. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Godaddy.com, Inc. has verified that Respondent is bound by the Godaddy.com, 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 September 18, 2009, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of October 8, 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 October 14, 2009, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed Hon. 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 <requiemextreme.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s REQUIEM mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <requiemextreme.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <requiemextreme.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Pelle Pelle, Inc., has been engaged in the design, manufacture, and sales of clothing apparel since 1978. In January 2009, Complainant introduced a new line of clothing apparel under the REQUIEM mark. Complainant holds a registration of the REQUIEM mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) (Reg. No. 3,596,464 issued March 24, 2009).
Respondent, Ion Caza, registered the <requiemextreme.com> domain name on August 2, 2009. The disputed domain name resolves to a website that sells clothing apparel in direct competition 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.
The Panel finds that Complainant has sufficiently
established rights in the REQUIEM mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) through its registration
of the mark with the USPTO (Reg. No. 3,596,464
issued March 24, 2009). See Miller Brewing
Respondent’s <requiemextreme.com> domain name contains Complainant’s entire REQUIEM mark, adds the generic term “extreme,” and adds the generic top-level domain (“gTLD”) “.com.” The Panel finds that the <requiemextreme.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s REQUIEM mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) because none of Respondent’s additions to Complainant’s mark sufficiently distinguish the disputed domain name from Complainant’s mark. 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 Experian Info. Solutions, Inc. v. Credit Research, Inc., D2002-0095 (WIPO May 7, 2002) (finding that several domain names incorporating the complainant’s entire EXPERIAN mark and merely adding the term “credit” were confusingly similar to the complainant’s mark); see also Trip Network Inc. v. Alviera, FA 914943 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 27, 2007) (concluding that the affixation of a gTLD to a domain name is irrelevant to a Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) analysis).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Initially, Complainant must make a prima facie showing that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Upon making such a showing, 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) and the burden now has shifted to Respondent, from which no response was received. See Hanna-Barbera Prods., Inc. v. Entm’t Commentaries, FA 741828 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 18, 2006) (holding that the complainant must first make a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) before the burden shifts to the respondent to show that it does have rights or legitimate interests in a domain name); 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 is listed in the WHOIS information as “Ion Caza,” which does not indicate that Respondent is commonly known by the <requiemextreme.com> domain name. In addition, Respondent has not offered any evidence to suggest that Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii) applies in this case. Moreover, Complainant has asserted that it did not license or otherwise authorize Respondent to use the REQUIEM mark. Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See IndyMac Bank F.S.B. v. Eshback, FA 830934 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 7, 2006) (finding that the respondent failed to establish rights and legitimate interests in the <emitmortgage.com> domain name as the respondent was not authorized to register domain names featuring the complainant’s mark and failed to submit evidence of that it is commonly known by the disputed domain name); see also Instron Corp. v. Kaner, FA 768859 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 21, 2006) (finding that the respondent was not commonly known by the <shoredurometer.com> and <shoredurometers.com> domain names because the WHOIS information listed Andrew Kaner c/o Electromatic a/k/a Electromatic Equip't as the registrant of the disputed domain names and there was no other evidence in the record to suggest that the respondent was commonly known by the domain names in dispute).
The <requiemextreme.com> domain name resolves to website that sells clothing apparel, which is in direct competition with Complainant’s business. Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name does not represent 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 Computerized Sec. Sys., Inc. v. Hu, FA 157321 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 23, 2003) (“Respondent’s appropriation of [Complainant’s] SAFLOK mark to market products that compete with Complainant’s goods does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods and services.”); see also Gardens Alive, Inc. v. D&S Linx, FA 203126 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 20, 2003) (finding that the respondent used a domain name for commercial benefit by diverting Internet users to a website that sold goods and services similar to those offered by the complainant and thus, was not using the name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Since Respondent registered the disputed domain name on August 2, 2009, Respondent has been offering competing clothing products on the website resolving from the <requiemextreme.com> domain name. The Panel finds that Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name disrupts Complainant’s business. The Panel further finds that such a disruption constitutes bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See Surface Prot. Indus., Inc. v. Webposters, D2000-1613 (WIPO Feb. 5, 2001) (finding that, given the competitive relationship between the complainant and the respondent, the respondent likely registered the contested domain name with the intent to disrupt the complainant's business and create user confusion); 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).”).
Furthermore, Respondent is using the confusingly similar <requiemextreme.com> domain name to sell products competing with Complainant’s apparel business. The Panel finds that such use creates a likelihood of confusion as to Complainant’s affiliation with the disputed domain name. The Panel further finds that Respondent’s commercial benefit from this likelihood of confusion via its clothing sales constitutes bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Computerized Sec. Sys., Inc. v. Hu, FA 157321 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 23, 2003) (finding that the respondent’s use of the <saflock.com> domain name to offer goods competing with the complainant’s illustrates the respondent’s bad faith registration and use of the domain name, evidence of bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv)); see also 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).
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 <requiemextreme.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Hon. Karl V. Fink (Ret.), Panelist
Dated: October 28, 2009
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