DECISION

 

Roto-Rooter Corporation v. Echoe Ceballos

Claim Number: FA1902001828674

 

PARTIES

Complainant is Roto-Rooter Corporation (ďComplainantĒ), represented by Theodore R. Remaklus of Wood, Herron & Evans, LLP, Ohio, USA.† Respondent is Echoe Ceballos (ďRespondentĒ), Texas, USA.

 

REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME

The domain name at issue is <aplusrotorooter.com>, registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC.

 

PANEL

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.

 

Paul M. DeCicco, as Panelist.

 

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Complainant submitted a Complaint to the Forum electronically on February 6, 2019; the Forum received payment on February 6, 2019.

 

On February 6, 2019, GoDaddy.com, LLC confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <aplusrotorooter.com> domain name is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name.† GoDaddy.com, LLC has verified that Respondent is bound by the GoDaddy.com, LLC registration agreement and has thereby agreed to resolve domain disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANNís Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the ďPolicyĒ).

 

On February 7, 2019, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint, setting a deadline of February 27, 2019 by which Respondent could file a Response to the Complaint, via e-mail to all entities and persons listed on Respondentís registration as technical, administrative, and billing contacts, and to postmaster@aplusrotorooter.com.† Also on February 7, 2019, 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 Respondentís registration as technical, administrative and billing contacts.

 

Having received no response from Respondent, the Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.

 

On March 1, 2019, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed Paul M. DeCicco 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. Therefore, the Panel may issue its decision based on the documents submitted and in accordance with the 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.

 

RELIEF SOUGHT

Complainant requests that the domain name be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.

 

PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

A. Complainant

Complainant contends as follows:

 

Complainant, Roto-Rooter Corporation, provides plumbing and drain cleaning services in North America. Complainant has rights in the ROTO-ROOTER mark through its registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (ďUSTPOĒ).

 

Respondentís <aplusrotorooter.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainantís mark because it incorporates the mark in its entirety, eliminates the hyphen, and adds the descriptive term ďa plusĒ along with a ď.comĒ generic top-level domain (ďgTLDĒ).

 

Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the <aplusrotorooter.com> domain name. Respondent is not licensed or authorized to use Complainantís ROTO-ROOTER mark and is not commonly known by the disputed domain name. Additionally, Respondent fails to use the disputed domain for a bona fide offering of goods or services or legitimate noncommercial or fair use. Instead, Respondent uses the at-issue domain name to promote and offer competing services.†

 

Respondent registered and uses the <aplusrotorooter.com> domain name in bad faith. Respondent is attempting to attract internet users to its competing website for commercial gain. Finally, Respondent had actual knowledge or constructive notice of Complainantís ROTO-ROOTER mark prior to registering the <aplusrotorooter.com> domain name.

 

B. Respondent

Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.

 

FINDINGS

Complainant has rights in the ROTO-ROOTER mark through the registration of such mark with the USPTO.

 

Respondent is not affiliated with Complainant and had not been authorized to use Complainantís trademark in any capacity.

 

Respondent registered the at‑issue domain name after Complainant acquired rights in the ROTO-ROOTER trademark.

 

Respondent uses the domain name to address a website that directly competes with Complainantís services.

 

DISCUSSION

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.

 

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(f), 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 (Forum July 31, 2000) (holding that the respondentís 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) (ďIn the absence of a response, it is appropriate to accept as true all allegations of the Complaint.Ē).

 

Identical and/or Confusingly Similar

The at-issue domain name is identical to a trademark in which Complainant has rights.

 

Complainantís USPTO trademark registration for ROTO-ROOTER is conclusive evidence of its rights in a mark under Policy ∂ 4(a)(i). See Microsoft Corp. v. Burkes, FA 652743 (Forum Apr. 17, 2006) (ďComplainant has established rights in the MICROSOFT mark through registration of the mark with the USPTO.Ē).

 

Additionally, Respondentís <aplusrotorooter.com> domain name contains Complainantís entire ROTO-ROOTER trademark (with its hyphen removed) prefixed with the superlative ďaplusĒ (a+ or a plus) and all followed by the top-level domain name ď.com.Ē The differences between Complainantís trademark and the <aplusrotorooter.com> domain name fail to distinguish the domain name from Complainantís mark for the purpose of Policy ∂ 4(a)(i). Therefore the Panel finds that Respondentís <aplusrotorooter.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainantís ROTO-ROOTER trademark.† See Microsoft Corporation v. Thong Tran Thanh, FA 1653187 (Forum Jan. 21, 2016) (determining that confusing similarity exists where [a disputed domain name] contains Complainantís entire mark and differs only by the addition of a generic or descriptive phrase and top-level domain, the differences between the domain name and its contained trademark are insufficient to differentiate one from the other for the purposes of the Policy); see also Chernow Commcíns, Inc. v. Kimball, D2000-0119 (WIPO May 18, 2000) (holding ďthat the use or absence of punctuation marks, such as hyphens, does not alter the fact that a name is identical to a mark").

 

Rights or Legitimate Interests

Under Policy ∂ 4(a)(ii), Complainant must first make out a prima facie case showing that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in respect of an at-issue domain name and then the burden, in effect, shifts to Respondent to come forward with evidence of its rights or legitimate interests.  See Hanna-Barbera Prods., Inc. v. Entmít Commentaries, FA 741828 (Forum Aug. 18, 2006). Since Respondent failed to respond, Complainantís prima facie showing acts conclusively.

 

Respondent lacks both rights and legitimate interests in respect of the at-issue domain name. Respondent is not authorized to use Complainantís trademark in any capacity and, as discussed below, there are no Policy ∂ 4(c) circumstances from which the Panel might find that Respondent has rights or interests in respect of the at‑issue domain name.

 

WHOIS information for the at-issue domain name identifies the domain nameís registrant as ďEchoe CeballosĒ and the record before the Panel contains no evidence that otherwise tends to prove that Respondent is commonly known by the <aplusrotorooter.com> domain name. The Panel therefore concludes that Respondent is not commonly known by the <aplusrotorooter.com> domain name for the purposes of Policy ∂ 4(c)(ii). See Coppertown Drive-Thru Sys., LLC v. Snowden, FA 715089 (Forum July 17, 2006) (concluding that the respondent was not commonly known by the <coppertown.com> domain name where there was no evidence in the record, including the WHOIS information, suggesting that the respondent was commonly known by the disputed domain name).

 

Respondentís <aplusrotorooter.com> domain name addresses a webpage that supports a business that competes with Complainantís services by offering plumbing and drain cleaning services in an area where Complainant also operates. Using the domain name in this manner is neither a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ∂ 4(c)(i), nor a non-commercial or fair use pursuant to Policy ∂ 4(c)(iii). See General Motors LLC v. MIKE LEE, FA 1659965 (Forum Mar. 10, 2016) (ďuse of a domain to sell products and/or services that compete directly with a complainantís business does not constitute 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).Ē).

 

Given the forgoing, Complainant satisfies its initial burden and conclusively demonstrates Respondentís lack of rights and lack of interests in respect of the at-issue domain name pursuant to Policy ∂ 4(a)(ii).

 

Registration and Use in Bad Faith

The at-issue domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. As discussed below Policy ∂ 4(b) bad faith circumstances are present and there is additional non-Policy ∂ 4(b) evidence from which the Panel may independently conclude that Respondent acted in bad faith pursuant to Policy ∂ 4(a)(iii).

 

As mentioned above regarding rights and legitimate interests, Respondent uses the confusingly similar domain name to offer services that complete with Complainant. Trading on Complainantís mark and inappropriately exploiting its inherent goodwill in this manner disrupts Complainantís business and shows Respondentís bad faith under Policy ∂ 4(b)(iii) and/or (iv). See Lenovo (Beijing) Limited Corporation China v. jeonggon seo, FA1411001591638 (Forum Jan. 16, 2015) (finding that where the complainant operated in the computer industry and the respondent used the disputed domain name to offer competing computer related links, the respondent was disrupting the complainantís business offerings in violation of Policy ∂ 4(b)(iii)); see also Xylem Inc. and Xylem IP Holdings LLC v. YinSi BaoHu YiKaiQi, FA1504001612750 (Forum May 13, 2015) (ďThe Panel agrees that Respondentís use of the website to display products similar to Complainantís, imputes intent to attract Internet users for commercial gain, and finds bad faith per Policy ∂ 4(b)(iv).Ē).

 

Furthermore, Respondent had actual knowledge of Complainantís rights in the ROTO-ROOTER mark when it registered <aplusrotorooter.com> as a domain name. Respondentís actual knowledge is evident from the notoriety of Complainantís trademark and from Respondentís use of the Complainantís mark in conjunction with its online offering of services that compete with those offered by Complainant. Registering and using a confusingly similar domain name with knowledge of Complainantís rights in such domain name shows Respondentís bad faith registration and use of the at-issue domain name pursuant to Policy ∂ 4(a)(iii). See Minicards Vennootschap Onder FIrma Amsterdam v. Moscow Studios, FA 1031703 (Forum Sept. 5, 2007) (holding that respondent registered a domain name in bad faith under Policy ∂ 4(a)(iii) after concluding that respondent had actual knowledge of Complainant's mark when registering the disputed domain name); see also, Univision Comm'cns Inc. v. Norte, FA 1000079 (Forum Aug. 16, 2007) (rejecting the respondent's contention that it did not register the disputed domain name in bad faith since the panel found that the respondent had knowledge of the complainant's rights in the UNIVISION mark when registering the disputed domain name).

 

DECISION

Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.

 

Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <aplusrotorooter.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.

 

 

Paul M. DeCicco, Panelist

Dated:† March 5, 2019

 

 

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