State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. RICH VALDEZ
Claim Number: FA1603001665220
Complainant is State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (“Complainant”), represented by Sherri Dunbar of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Illinois, USA. Respondent is RICH VALDEZ (“Respondent”), New Mexico.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <statefarmjake.com>, registered with FastDomain Inc.
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.
David L. Kreider, Esq., as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the Forum electronically on March 11, 2016; the Forum received payment on March 11, 2016.
On March 14, 2016, FastDomain Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <statefarmjake.com> domain name is registered with FastDomain Inc. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. FastDomain Inc. has verified that Respondent is bound by the FastDomain Inc. registration agreement and has thereby agreed to resolve domain disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”).
On March 15, 2016, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint, setting a deadline of April 4, 2016 by which Respondent could file a Response to the Complaint, via e-mail to all entities and persons listed on Respondent’s registration as technical, administrative, and billing contacts, and to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also on March 15, 2016, the Written Notice of the Complaint, notifying Respondent of the e-mail addresses served and the deadline for a Response, was transmitted to Respondent via post and fax, to all entities and persons listed on Respondent’s registration as technical, administrative and billing contacts.
A timely Response was received from the Respondent on April 4, 2016, in which the Respondent relevantly states:
“I fully understand State Farm’s claim to the trademark implied with this domain and I have no intention to challenge the matter. I would like to transfer the domain to prevent any further action”.
On April 6, 2016, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed David L. Kreider, Esq., 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" through submission of Electronic and Written Notices, as defined in Rule 1 and Rule 2.
Complainant requests that the domain name be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.
State Farm Trademark Rights to the Name “State Farm” and “State Farm Insurance”
State Farm is a nationally known company that has been doing business under the name “State Farm” since 1930. In 1999 State Farm opened a Federally Chartered Bank known as State Farm Bank. State Farm engages in business in both the insurance and the financial services industry. State Farm also has established a nationally recognized presence on televised and other media.
State Farm first began using the “State Farm” trademark in 1930 and registered it with the Patent and Trademark Office on June 11, 1996 and registered “State Farm Insurance” on September 11, 1979. State Farm has also registered with the Patent and Trademark Office the following marks that all include the phrase “State Farm” including, but not limited to: The State Farm Insurance 3 oval logo; State Farm, State Farm Bank, State Farm Bank logo, State Farm Bayou Classic, State Farm Catastrophe Services, State Farm Companies Foundation, State Farm Mutual Funds, State Farm Dollars, State Farm Green Space, State Farm Red Magazine.
Respondent Has No Legitimate Interest in the Domain Name
Because of the substantial efforts of State Farm, the public associates the phrase “State Farm” with the owner of the servicemark “State Farm.” The State Farm mark is distinctive and has acquired secondary meaning. The domain name at issue is confusingly similar to the State Farm servicemark that it has been using since 1930 and to other State Farm registered marks. Moreover, the domain name is confusingly similar to products, services or information that State Farm offers generally to the public as well as on its web sites.
The Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not associated with, affiliated with or sponsored by State Farm, the owner of the servicemark "State Farm." State Farm did not authorize the Respondent to register the domain name or to use the State Farm trademark for the Respondent’s business purposes.
Respondent is not commonly known under the domain name “StateFarmJake.com.” It is believed that the Respondent has never been known by or performed business under the domain name at issue. The Respondent does not possess independent intellectual property rights in the name. In addition, State Farm does not have a contractual arrangement with Respondent that would allow them to offer services under the State Farm name.
State Farm believes that the Respondent registered the name to create the impression of association with State Farm, its agents, products, sponsorships, and services; to trade off the good will associated with the State Farm name; and/or to create initial interest confusion for individuals looking for information about State Farm.
Respondent Has Acted in Bad Faith
It is clear that the name registered by Respondent is confusingly similar to State Farm trademarks. Indeed, the name includes the State Farm registered mark "State Farm.” This domain is clearly intended to attract individuals seeking information on State Farm and create customer confusion as to the source or sponsorship of the site.
State Farm has filed numerous complaints relating to its domain names under the ICANN Uniform Dispute Resolution Process. The arbitrators have consistently found that the use of a State Farm trademark in a domain name, whether or not additional language, characters or hyphens are added to the State Farm name, is confusingly similar to State Farm trademarks and that such registrations have been done in bad faith. (See State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Advisory Services, Inc., FA94662 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 8, 2000), State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Bulldog, Inc., FA94427 (Nat. Arb. Forum, May 27, 2000), State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. I & B, FA94719 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 8, 2000), State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. JIT Consulting, FA94335 (Nat. Arb. Forum April 24, 2000), State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Life en Theos, FA94663 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 1, 2000), State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Try Harder & Company, FA94730 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 15, 2000), State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. J & B, Inc., FA94802 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 13, 2000), State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Richard Pierce, FA94808 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 6, 2000), State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. HPR, FA94829 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 22, 2000), State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Dean Gagnon, FA0710001087389 (Nat. Arb. Forum, November 16, 2007), State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Jung Tae Young, FAFA0710001087458 (Nat. Arb. Forum, November 20, 2007), State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Richard Pompilio, FAFA0710001092410 (Nat. Arb. Forum, November 20, 2007).
As in the cases above, Respondent has no legitimate claim in the domain name at issue. In addition, the facts in evidence demonstrate that Respondent has registered and is using the name in bad faith.
In accordance with 15 U.S.C. §1125(d) Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name was in bad faith in that:
a) Respondent has never been known by the name “State Farm.” The Respondent has never traded under the name “State Farm.” Respondent has not acquired a trademark or other intellectual property rights in the domain name in question. Moreover, Respondent has not registered the name in question with the Secretary of State in the state in which it does business or filed incorporation papers with respect to the same. This obvious lack of right to use the name in question shows bad faith registration and use.
b) Despite having registered the domain name “StateFarmJake.com,” Respondent is not authorized to sell products, engage in sponsorships or services for or on behalf of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, its affiliates or subsidiaries and is not an independent contractor agent of State Farm. Registering a domain name for products and services that it does not have authority to offer, shows that the Respondent has acted in bad faith.
c) While the Respondent registered the domain name “StateFarmJake.com,” giving the impression that interested individuals will receive information regarding State Farm, the fact is individuals are sent to a parked web page with click-through links to various companies and products, some of which are in direct competition with Complainant, and which states it is hosted by Bluehost. The use of a trademark to generate business in other fashions reflects that the Respondent has acted in bad faith.
d) The Respondent is not using, nor are there any demonstrable preparations to use the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. As of the date of this Complaint, there was no legitimate content associated with the name and no demonstrable indication that legitimate content would be forthcoming. Even if the Respondent did put information on its website, its content along with the proposed domain name, would be in direct conflict with information State Farm already provides and would cause confusion to potential customers. Failure to resolve the domain name to legitimate content indicates that the Respondent has no legitimate reason for having registered the name and demonstrates that it has registered and is using the name in bad faith.
See Bank of Am. Fork v. Shen, FA 699645 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 11, 2006) (finding that the respondent’s use of a domain name to redirect internet users to websites unrelated to a complainant’s mark is not a bona fide use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i); see also Constellation Wines U.S., Inc. v. Tex. Int’l Prop. Assocs., FA 948436 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 8, 2007) (finding that the respondent had no rights or legitimate interests under Policy ¶¶ 4(c)(iii) by using the disputed domain name to operate a website featuring links to goods and services unrelated to the complainant).
e) Respondent has been sent Complainant’s cease and desist letter for notification of Respondent’s unauthorized use of the name in question. Failure to respond with legitimate information for use or intention to use the name and then failure to comply with Complainant’s cease and desist request demonstrates it has registered and is using the name in bad faith.
f) The Respondent registered its domain name on July 10, 2015. State Farm registered its domain name “statefarm.com” on May 24, 1995. The Respondent knew or should have known of Complainant’s long-term use of the trademark “State Farm,” “State Farm Insurance” and the long-term use of the domain name “statefarm.com.” The Respondent’s registration of the domain name was intended to be in bad faith.
As has been noted above, Respondent makes no arguments in this proceeding and, instead, consents to the transfer of the <statefarmjake.com> domain name to Complainant.
The Panel notes Respondent’s consent to the transfer of the disputed domain name to the Complainant. This “consent-to-transfer” approach is but one way for cybersquatters to avoid adverse findings against them. See, Graebel Van Lines, Inc. v. Tex. Int’l Prop. Assocs., FA 1195954 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 17, 2008). Under the circumstances, the Panel further considers that the Complainant is entitled to a decision on the merits.
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."
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 rights in the STATE FARM mark through its registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) (e.g., Reg. No. 1,979,585, registered June 11, 1996). Respondent’s <statefarmjake.com> domain name is confusingly similar to the STATE FARM mark because it incorporates the mark.
Respondent is not commonly known by the <statefarmjake.com> domain name and is not authorized to use the STATE FARM mark. Respondent does not provide a bona fide offering of goods or services, and is not engaged in a legitimate noncommercial or fair use because the domain resolves to a parked page containing click-through links, including links to competitors of Complainant.
Respondent uses the <statefarmjake.com> domain name in bad faith because the domain resolves to a parked page containing click-through links, including links to competitors of Complainant. Respondent registered the <statefarmjake.com> domain name in bad faith because it did so with constructive or actual knowledge of Complainant’s rights in the STATE FARM mark based upon Complainant’s longstanding use of the mark.
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <statefarmjake.com> domain name be
TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
David L. Kreider, Esq., Panelist
Dated: April 7, 2016
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