American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc. v. Pete Childs / Colfor Manufacturing Inc.
Claim Number: FA2109001963869
Complainant is American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc. (“Complainant”), represented by Elizabeth Brock of Harness, Dickey & Pierce PLC, Michigan, USA. Respondent is Pete Childs / Colfor Manufacturing Inc. (“Respondent”), Canada.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <colformanufacturinginc.com>, registered with eNom, 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 September 15, 2021; the Forum received payment on September 15, 2021.
On September 15, 2021, eNom, LLC confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <colformanufacturinginc.com> domain name are registered with eNom, LLC and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. eNom, LLC has verified that Respondent is bound by the eNom, 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 September 16, 2021, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint, setting a deadline of October 6, 2021 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 September 16, 2021, 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 October 11, 2021, 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 COLFOR and COLFOR MANUFACTURING. Complainant holds a national registration for COLFOR MANUFACTURING and asserts common law trademark rights in COLFOR. Complainant submits that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its trademarks.
Complainant alleges that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name because it has no trademark rights; is not known by the same name; and the domain name has not been used other than for a nefarious purpose.
Complainant alleges that Respondent registered the disputed domain name in bad faith having targeted Complainant’s business.
Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
The factual findings pertinent to the decision in this case are that:
1. Complainant is an automotive supplier and the owner of United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) Reg. No. 3,168,475, registered November 7, 2006 for the trademark COLFOR MANUFACTURING;
2. there is no relationship between the parties;
3. the disputed domain name was registered on November 4, 2020 and has been used to generate emails which pose as having originated from Complainant; and
4. the disputed domain name resolves to a website composed as to appear to be the official website of 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."
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.
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.
Complainant asserts common law trademark rights in COLFOR but provides no affirmative evidence of that claim. Nonetheless, it is well established by decisions under this Policy that a trademark registered with a national authority is evidence of trademark rights (see, for example, Mothers Against Drunk Driving v. phix, FA 174052 (Forum Sept. 25, 2003)). Complainant holds a national registration for COLFOR MANUFACTURING and the Panel finds that it has rights in that term. The Panel notes that the registration carries a disclaimer to exclusivity in the word “manufacturing” but determines that this does not affect the outcome of the paragraph 4(a)(i) analysis in this case.
For the purposes of comparison of the disputed domain name with the trademark the gTLD, “.com”, can be disregarded, as can the non-distinctive abbreviation, “inc.”. Neither of those terms has value in distinguishing the domain name from the trademark. The Panel finds the domain name confusingly similar to the trademark (see, for example, Am. Int’l Group, Inc. v. Domain Admin. Ltd., FA 1106369 (Forum Dec. 31, 2007) finding that “a generic top-level domain, such as ‘.com,’ ‘.net,’ ‘.biz,’ or ‘.org,’ is required in domain names”; see also, by analogy, Avaya Inc. v. Evelyn Dayda / Avaya Unlimited Sources LLC, FA 1611255 (Forum May 4, 2015) finding that as “the ‘usa’ portion of the disputed domain name is a generic geographic term, the internet user will assume that the domain name deals with the activities of Complainant in the USA and that it will lead to a website dealing with that subject. The domain name is therefore confusingly similar to the AVAYA mark and the Panel so finds.”).
Panel therefore finds that Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 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 trade mark 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 (see, for example, Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, D2000‑0624 (WIPO Aug. 21, 2000)).
The publicly available WhoIs information shielded the name of the underlying domain name holder but in consequence of these proceedings the Registrar disclosed that name as “Pete Childs” and the registrant organization as “Colfor Manufacturing Inc.” The personal name does not support any finding that the domain name registrant might have a right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. The organizational name is that of Complainant but in the absence of any compelling evidence that Respondent is associated with Complainant and in the face of an explicit denial thereof by Complainant the Panel finds that the adoption of the registered organizational name is a fraudulent attempt to defeat the Policy.
There is no evidence that Respondent has any trademark rights and the disputed domain name resolves to a website which mimics Complainant business and exists it seems only to assist a fraudulent scheme whereby, as the Complaint shows, unsuspecting email recipients are lured into providing goods believing to have done so at Complainant’s request.
A prima facie case has been made (see, for example, Kmart of Mich., Inc. v. Cone, FA 655014 (Forum Apr. 25, 2006) where the panel found the respondent’s attempt to pass itself of as the complainant was not 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); see also Chevron Intellectual Property LLC v. Thomas Webber / Chev Ronoil Recreational Sport Limited, FA 1661076 (Forum Mar. 15, 2016); Church Mutual Insurance Company v. Paul Looney, FA 1668317 (Forum May 17, 2016); Emerson Electric Co. v. Adilcon Rocha, FA 1735949 (Forum July 11, 2017)).
The onus shifts to Respondent and in the absence of a Response, 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 in bad faith 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 the use of the domain name falls under paragraph 4(b)(iv). The Panel has already found the domain name to be confusingly similar to the trademark. The fraudulent website and emails are likely to cause confusion. Their purpose is commercial gain. Panel finds registration and use in bad faith.
Panel 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 <colformanufacturinginc.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Debrett G. Lyons, Panelist
Dated: October 13, 2021
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