Chanda Macias v. Whois Privacy
Claim Number: FA2306002049901
Complainant is Chanda Macias (“Complainant”), represented by Robert Kimmer, District of Columbia, USA. Respondent is Whois Privacy (“Respondent”), California, USA.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <drchanda.com>, registered with Tucows Domains 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.
Charles A. Kuechenmeister, Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to Forum electronically on June 21, 2023; Forum received payment on June 21, 2023.
On June 21, 2023, Tucows Domains Inc. confirmed by e-mail to Forum that the <drchanda.com> domain name (the Domain Name) is registered with Tucows Domains Inc. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Tucows Domains Inc. has verified that Respondent is bound by the Tucows Domains 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 June 26, 2023, Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint setting a deadline of July 17, 2023 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 June 26, 2023, 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, Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
On July 25, 2023, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, Forum appointed Charles A. Kuechenmeister as Panelist.
Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the "Panel") finds that 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, Forum's Supplemental Rules and any rules and principles of law that the Panel deems applicable, without the benefit of a Response from Respondent.
Complainant requests that the Domain Name be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.
Complainant operates in the cannabis industry. She claims rights to the DR. CHANDA mark through her registration of that mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). Respondent’s <drchanda.com> is identical to Complainant’s DR. CHANDA mark.
Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. It registered the Domain Name after Complainant acquired rights in her mark, and her rights to the DR. CHANDA mark are superior to any rights Respondent may have.
Respondent registered the Domain Name in bad faith in that it registered the Domain Name with actual or constructive knowledge of Complainant’s rights in the DR. CHANDA mark.
Respondent did not submit a Response in this proceeding.
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 a complainant to prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order cancelling or transferring a domain name:
(1) the domain name registered by the respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
(2) the 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, pursuant to paragraphs 5(f), 14(a) and 15(a) of the Rules the Panel will decide this administrative proceeding on the basis of Complainant's undisputed representations and draw such inferences it considers appropriate pursuant to paragraph 14(b) of the Rules. The Panel is entitled to accept all reasonable allegations set forth in a complaint as true unless the evidence is clearly contradictory. Nevertheless, the Panel may deny relief where a complaint contains mere conclusory or unsubstantiated arguments. eGalaxy Multimedia Inc. v. ON HOLD By Owner Ready To Expire, FA 157287 (Forum June 26, 2003) (“Because Complainant did not produce clear evidence to support its subjective allegations [. . .] the Panel finds it appropriate to dismiss the Complaint”), WIPO Overview 3.0, at ¶ 4.3 (“In cases involving wholly unsupported and conclusory allegations advanced by the complainant, . . . panels may find that—despite a respondent’s default—a complainant has failed to prove its case.”).
The Panel finds as follows with respect to the matters at issue in this proceeding:
The DR. CHANDA mark was registered to Complainant with the USPTO (Reg. No. 6,961,696) on January 24, 2023 (USPTO registration certificate included in Complaint Exhibit A. Complainant’s registration of her mark with the USPTO establishes her rights in that mark for the purposes of Policy 4(a)(i). 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).”).
Respondent’s <drchanda.com> Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark. It incorporates the mark verbatim, merely deleting the period and the space after DR and adding the “.com” gTLD. These changes do not distinguish the Domain Name from Complainant’s mark for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). Health Devices Corp. v. Aspen S T C, FA 158254 (Forum July 1, 2003) (“[T]he addition of punctuation marks such as hyphens is irrelevant in the determination of confusing similarity pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).”), Dell Inc. v. Protection of Private Person / Privacy Protection, FA 1681432 (Forum Aug. 1, 2016) (“A TLD (whether a gTLD, sTLD or ccTLD) is disregarded under a Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) analysis because domain name syntax requires TLDs. Likewise, the absence of spaces must be disregarded under a Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) analysis because domain name syntax prohibits them.”). The WIPO Overview 3.0, at ¶ 1.7, states that the test for confusing similarity “typically involves a side-by-side comparison of the domain name and the textual components of the relevant trademark to assess whether the mark is recognizable within the domain name.” Notwithstanding the changes described above, Complainant’s mark is clearly recognizable within the Domain Name.
For the reasons set forth above, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to the DR. CHANDA mark, in which Complainant has substantial and demonstrated rights.
If a complainant makes a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii), the burden of production shifts to respondent to come forward with evidence that it has rights or legitimate interests in it. Neal & Massey Holdings Limited v. Gregory Ricks, FA 1549327 (Forum Apr. 12, 2014) (“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”). If a respondent fails to come forward with such evidence, the complainant’s prima facie evidence will be sufficient to establish that respondent lacks such rights or legitimate interests. If the respondent does come forward with such evidence, the Panel must assess the evidence in its entirety. At all times, the burden of proof remains on the complainant. WIPO Overview 3.0, at ¶ 2.1.
Policy ¶ 4(c) lists the following three nonexclusive circumstances, any one of which if proven can demonstrate a respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in a domain name for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii):
(i) Before any notice to the respondent of the dispute, the respondent’s 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;
(ii) The respondent (as an individual, business or other organization) has been commonly known by the domain name, even if the respondent has acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) The respondent is 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 asserts that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Names because it registered the Domain Name after Complainant acquired rights in her mark, and her rights to the DR. CHANDA mark are superior to any rights Respondent may have. These allegations are addressed as follows:
Complainant wholly failed to address or offer evidence relevant to any of the indicia of rights or legitimate interests listed in Policy ¶ 4(c), making no effort to establish a prima facie case as to any of them. Even her only allegation on this element of her case is unsupported by evidence of when Respondent registered or acquired the Domain Name, merely alleging that it was at some unspecified date after she acquired her rights in the DR. CHANDA mark. Likewise, there is no evidence whatever of the uses the Respondent may be making of the Domain Name. In light of these failings she cannot possibly prove either that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name or that Respondent registered and is using it in bad faith. Her Complaint must be dismissed. eGalaxy Multimedia Inc. v. ON HOLD By Owner Ready To Expire, Ibid.
Complainant having failed to offer evidence relevant to two of the three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that her Complaint should be and it hereby is ordered DISMISSED.
The <drchanda.com> Domain Name shall REMAIN WITH RESPONDENT.
Charles A. Kuechenmeister, Panelist
Dated: July 26, 2023
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