Google LLC v. Grigor Rostami
Claim Number: FA1908001859630
Complainant is Google LLC (“Complainant”), represented by Brendan J Hughes of Cooley LLP, District of Columbia, USA. Respondent is Grigor Rostami (“Respondent”), California, USA.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <googleimg.com>, registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC.
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.
Debrett G. Lyons as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the Forum electronically on August 28, 2019; the Forum received payment on August 28, 2019.
On August 28, 2019, GoDaddy.com, LLC confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <googleimg.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 ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”).
On August 30, 2019, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint, setting a deadline of September 19, 2019 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 August 30, 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 Respondent’s 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 September 23, 2019, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed Debrett G. Lyons 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.
Complainant requests that the domain name be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.
Complainant asserts trademark rights in GOOGLE and alleges that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its trademark.
Complainant alleges that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Complainant alleges that Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
The factual findings pertinent to the decision in this case are that:
1. Complainant uses the trademark GOOGLE for its internet search engine;
2. The trademark is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) as Reg. No. 2,806,075, registered January 20, 2004;
3. the disputed domain name was registered on December 9, 2016 and redirects internet users to a website which mimics Complainant’s “images” website; and
4. there is no commercial agreement between the parties and Complainant has not authorized Respondent to use its trademark or to register any domain name incorporating its trademark.
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 based on 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.[i]
Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy requires a two-fold enquiry—a threshold investigation into whether a complainant has rights in a trademark, followed by an assessment of whether the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to that trademark.
Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy does not distinguish between registered and unregistered trademark rights. It is well established by decisions under this Policy that a trademark registered with a national authority is evidence of trademark rights.[ii] Since Complainant provides evidence of its USPTO trademark registration the Panel is satisfied that it has rights in the word GOOGLE.
The domain name takes the trademark and adds non-distinctive matter in the form of the letters, “img”, which is an internet industry abbreviation for the word, “image(s)”, together with the “.com” gTLD. The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the trademark.
The Panel finds the disputed domain name to be confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademark[iii] and so finds that Complainant has satisfied the requirements of ¶ 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy states that any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be proved, based on its evaluation of all evidence presented, shall demonstrate rights or legitimate interests to a domain name for purposes of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy:
(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(iii) you are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.
Complainant need only make out a prima facie case that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, after which the onus shifts to Respondent to rebut that case by demonstrating those rights or interests.[iv]
The publicly available WHOIS information for the domain name does not provide any prima facie evidence that Respondent might be commonly known by the disputed domain name. There is no evidence that Respondent has any trademark rights and Complainant states that it has not given Respondent permission to use the trademark for any purpose. The evidence is that the disputed domain name redirects internet users to a website that provides internet search services competitive with Complainant’s business under the trademark. The Panel finds that there has been no bona fide offering of goods or services nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name[v] and so finds that Complainant has made a prima facie case.
The onus shifts to Respondent to establish a legitimate interest in the domain name. In the absence of a Response, that prima facie case is not met and so Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or interests and so finds that Complainant has satisfied the second limb of the Policy.
Complainant must prove on the balance of probabilities both that the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith.
Further guidance on that requirement is found in paragraph 4(b) of the Policy, which sets out four circumstances, any one of which is taken to be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith if established.
The four specified circumstances are:
(i) circumstances indicating that the respondent has registered or acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the respondent’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) the respondent has registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) the respondent has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to respondent’s website or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on the site or location.
The Panel finds that paragraph 4(b)(iv) has direct application. The Panel has already found the compared terms to be confusingly similar and the Panel finds that the resolving website exists for commercial gain in some form or another. In terms of the Policy, the Panel finds that Respondent’s registered and used a confusing similar domain name intending to create the requisite confusion described by paragraph 4(b)(iv).
The Panel finds registration and use in bad faith[vi] and so finds that Complainant has satisfied the third and final element of the Policy.
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <googleimg.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Debrett G. Lyons, Panelist
[i] See, for example, Vertical Solutions Mgmt., Inc. v. webnet-marketing, inc., FA 95095 (Forum Jul. 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; 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.”)
[ii] See, for example, State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Periasami Malain, FA 705262 (Forum Jun. 19, 2006) (“Complainant’s registrations with the United States Patent and Trademark Office of the trademark, STATE FARM, establishes its rights in the STATE FARM mark pursuant to Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).”)
[iii] See, for example, Vanguard Group Inc. v. Proven Fin. Solutions, FA 572937 (Forum Nov. 18, 2005) holding that the addition of both the word “advisors” and the gTLD “.com” did not negate a finding of confusing similarity under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).
[iv] See, for example, Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, D2000‑0624 (WIPO Aug. 21, 2000).
[v] See, for example, Mortgage Research Center LLC v. Miranda, FA 993017 (Forum July 9, 2007); General Motors LLC v. MIKE LEE, FA 1659965 (Forum Mar. 10, 2016).
[vi] BBY Solutions, Inc. v. Grant Ritzwoller, FA 1703389 (Forum Dec. 21, 2016); Target Brands, Inc. v. JK Internet Servs., FA 349108 (Forum Dec. 14, 2004).
Click Here to return to the main Domain Decisions Page.
Click Here to return to our Home Page