Licensing IP International S.à.r.l. v. Christiano Juarez
Claim Number: FA2201001980384
Complainant is Licensing IP International S.à.r.l. (“Complainant”), represented by ROBIC, LLP, Canada. Respondent is Christiano Juarez (“Respondent”), New York, USA.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <pornhubdeutsch.info>, registered with NameCheap, 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.
Debrett G. Lyons as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the Forum electronically on January 13, 2022; the Forum received payment on January 13, 2022.
On January 14, 2022, NameCheap, Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <pornhubdeutsch.info> domain name is registered with NameCheap, Inc. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. NameCheap, Inc. has verified that Respondent is bound by the NameCheap, 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 January 24, 2022, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint, setting a deadline of February 14, 2022 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 email@example.com. Also on January 24, 2022, 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 February 21, 2022, 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 the PORNHUB mark 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 does business in the online adult entertainment market by reference, inter alia, to the PORNHUB mark which is the subject of United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) Reg. No. 4,220,491 registered on October 9, 2012;
2. the disputed domain name was registered on December 28, 2019 and resolves to a website promoting adult entertainment; and
3. 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 (see, for example, Vertical Solutions Mgmt., Inc. v. webnet-marketing, inc., FA 95095 (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; 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)(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. Proof of registration of the trademark with a national trademark authority is adequate proof of trademark rights. Here Complainant provides evidence of its USPTO registration for PORNHUB and so the Panel finds that Complainant has trademark rights (see, for example, DIRECTV, LLC v. The Pearline Group, FA 1818749 (Forum Dec. 30, 2018) (“Complainant’s ownership of a USPTO registration for DIRECTV demonstrate its rights in such mark for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).”)).
For the purposes of comparison, the gTLD “.info” can be disregarded and the addition of a country name to the trademark does nothing to avoid confusing similarity (see, for example, Franklin Covey Co. v. franklincoveykorea, FA 1774660 (Forum Apr. 11, 2018) finding <franklincoveykorea.com> confusingly similar to the complainant’s FRANKLIN COVEY mark, as “[t]he addition of a geographic term and a gTLD do not negate confusing similarity between a domain name and a mark per Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).”)).
The Panel finds the domain name to be confusingly similar to the trademark and so 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 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 (see, for example, Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, D2000‑0624 (WIPO Aug. 21, 2000).
The publicly available WHOIS information shielded the domain name holder but in consequence of these proceedings the name of the underlying registrant (Respondent, Christiano Juarez) was disclosed. That 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 disputed domain name resolves to a website featuring adult entertainment, some of which appears to be provided only to subscribers, together with miscellaneous advertising. Such use does not constitute a legitimate interest or give rights and the Panel finds that Complainant has made a prima facie case (see, for example, Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc. v. domain admin / private registrations aktien gesellschaft, FA1506001626253 (Forum July 29, 2015) (“Respondent is using the disputed domain name to resolve to a web page containing advertising links to products that compete with those of Complainant. The Panel finds that this does not constitute a bona fide offering or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use.”); Zillow, Inc. v. Domain Admin / Whois Privacy Corp., FA 1784943 (Forum June 7, 2018) (“the <trulia.co> domain name resolves to a variety of pages, including real-estate-related advertising and to the website of a direct competitor of the Complainant in the online real estate field. Therefore, the Panel agrees with Complainant and finds that Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the domain name per Policy ¶¶ 4(c)(i) or (iii).”).
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.
On the evidence, the Panel finds bad faith under subparagraph (iv) above. The Panel has already found the disputed domain name to be confusingly similar to the trademark. The use of the disputed domain name is for commercial gain in one form or another. The Panel finds registration and use of the domain name in bad faith and so finds that Complainant has satisfied the third and final element of the Policy (see, for example, American Council on Education and GED Testing Service LLC v. Anthony Williams, FA1760954 (Forum Jan. 8, 2018) (“Respondent’s hosting of links to Complainant’s competitors demonstrates bad faith registration and use of the <geddiploma.org> domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii)”); Xylem Inc. and Xylem IP Holdings LLC v. YinSi BaoHu YiKaiQi, FA1504001612750 (Forum May 13, 2015) (“The Panel agrees that Respondent’s use of the website to display products similar to Complainant’s, imputes intent to attract Internet users for commercial gain, and finds bad faith per Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv).”); 3M Company v. Nguyen Hoang Son / Bussiness and Marketing, FA1408001575815 (Forum Sept. 18, 2014) finding that the respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to host sponsored advertisements for Amazon, through which the respondent presumably profited, indicated that the respondent had used the disputed domain name in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv)).
The Panel finds that Complainant has established the third and final limb 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 <pornhubdeutsch.info> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Debrett G. Lyons, Panelist
Dated: February 24, 2022
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