Treefrog Developments, Inc. v. ICS INC.
Claim Number: FA1212001476410
Complainant is Treefrog Developments, Inc. (“Complainant”), represented by Daniel Greenberg of Lexsynergy Limited, United Kingdom. Respondent is ICS INC. (“Respondent”), Cayman Islands.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <wwwlifeproof.com>, registered with Tucows.com CO.
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 National Arbitration Forum electronically on December 18, 2012; the National Arbitration Forum received payment on December 18, 2012.
On December 18, 2012, Tucows.com CO confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <wwwlifeproof.com> domain name is registered with Tucows.com CO and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Tucows.com CO has verified that Respondent is bound by the Tucows.com CO 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 December 18, 2012, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint, setting a deadline of January 7, 2013 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 December 18, 2012, 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 National Arbitration Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
On January 18,2013, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed Debrett G. Lyons as Panelist.
Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the "Panel") finds that the National Arbitration 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. The Panel has issued its decision based on the documents submitted and in accordance with the ICANN Policy, ICANN Rules, the National Arbitration Forum's Supplemental Rules and rules and principles of law that it deemed 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 LIFEPROOF 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 LIFEPROOF in relation to carry cases and covers for portable electronic devices including mobile phones.
2. Complainant owns United States Trademark Reg. No. 4,057,201 registered November 15, 2011 for the word mark LIFEPROOF.
3. The disputed domain name was registered on January 22, 2012.
4. The domain name resolves to a website that features Complainant’s goods but also links to third-party competitors in business to Complainant.
5. 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.
6. Respondent has offered the domain name for sale.
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(e), 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 (Nat. Arb. 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; see also 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 trade mark, followed by an assessment of whether the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to that trade mark.
Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy does not distinguish between registered and unregistered trademark rights. It is well established by former decisions under this Policy that a trademark registered with a national authority is evidence of trademark rights. Since Complainant provides evidence of its United States Patent and Trademark Office trademark registration, the Panel is satisfied that it has trademark rights (see State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Periasami Malain, FA 705262 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 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).”); see also Mothers Against Drunk Driving v. phix, FA 174052 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 25, 2003) finding that the complainant’s registration of the MADD mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office establishes the complainant’s rights in the mark for purposes of Policy paragraph 4(a)(i)).
Panel is also satisfied that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademark. The disputed domain name takes the trademark and adds non-distinctive elements – namely, the gTLD, “.com” and the indicator “www”, neither being added matter which distinguishes the domain name from the trademark in any significant way so as to avoid confusion (see Rollerblade, Inc. v. McCrady, D2000-0429 (WIPO June 25, 2000) finding that the top level of the domain name such as “.net” or “.com” does not affect the domain name for the purpose of determining whether it is identical or confusingly similar.
Panel 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 Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, D2000‑0624 (WIPO Aug. 21, 2000).
The publicly available WHOIS information identifies Respondent as “ICS Inc.” and so there is no prima facie evidence that Respondent might be commonly known by the disputed domain name. There is no evidence that Respondent has any trademark rights. There is no evidence that Complainant has authorized Respondent to use the trademark and Complainant denies any such authorization.
There is no evidence that the disputed domain name has been used in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services prior to notice of the dispute. Complainant provides evidence that the domain name resolves to a website that carries links to the goods (in particular, mobile phone covers) of third party competitors of Complainant. Panel finds that such use does not demonstrate a bona fide offering of goods or services or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use (see TM Acquisition Corp. v. Sign Guards, FA 132439 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 31, 2002) finding that the respondent’s diversionary use of the complainant’s marks to send Internet users to a website which displayed a series of links, some of which linked to the complainant’s competitors, was not a bona fide offering of goods or services; see also Expedia, Inc. v. Compaid, FA 520654 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 30, 2005) finding that the respondent’s use of the <expediate.com> domain name to redirect Internet users to a website featuring links to travel services that competed with 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 finally Amazon.com, Inc. v. J J Domains, FA 514939 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 2 2005), where the panelist held that the respondent demonstrated a lack of rights and legitimate interests in a disputed domain name which added the prefix “www” to the complainant’s mark since it was indicative of typosquatting).
Panel notes, too, the evidence that the domain name has been for sale.
Panel finds that Complainant has established a prima facie case and so the onus shifts to Respondent to establish a legitimate interest in the domain name. In the absence of a Response, that case is not rebutted 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 in bad faith and that it is being 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.’
Complainant submits that Respondent is a serial cybersquatter and refers to twenty-eight former UDRP cases transferring the relevant disputed domain names from Respondent’s possession.
In this case it is not necessary for Panel to review those cases to determine where a record of adverse UDRP decisions against Respondent demonstrates a pattern of bad faith registration and conduct on its part since it is clear to Panel that Respondent’s actions fall squarely under paragraph 4(b)(iv) above. Panel has already found the disputed domain name to be confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademark. Panel finds that the intention to cause confusion was deliberate. Panel finds that it is more likely than not to be the case that Respondent receives revenue from the website associated with the disputed domain name by way of click-through fees. In terms of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy, Panel finds that Respondent is using the domain name 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 trademark.
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <wwwlifeproof.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Debrett G. Lyons, Panelist
Dated: January 28, 2013
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