Qwest Communications International Inc. v. Ling Shun Shing
Claim Number: FA0308000187431
Complainant is Qwest Communications International Inc., Denver, CO (“Complainant”) represented by Anthony J. Malutta, of Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP. Respondent is Ling Shun Shing, Shanghai, China (“Respondent”).
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <qwestwirless.com>, registered with Iholdings.Com, Inc. d/b/a Dotregistrar.Com.
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.
Hon. Ralph Yachnin as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum (the "Forum") electronically on August 19, 2003; the Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on August 20, 2003.
On August 20, 2003, Iholdings.Com, Inc. d/b/a Dotregistrar.Com confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the domain name <qwestwirless.com> is registered with Iholdings.Com, Inc. d/b/a Dotregistrar.Com and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Iholdings.Com, Inc. d/b/a Dotregistrar.Com has verified that Respondent is bound by the Iholdings.Com, Inc. d/b/a Dotregistrar.Com registration agreement and has thereby agreed to resolve domain-name disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Policy").
On August 21, 2003, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of September 10, 2003 by which Respondent could file a Response to the Complaint, was transmitted to Respondent via e-mail, post and fax, to all entities and persons listed on Respondent's registration as technical, administrative and billing contacts, and to firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.
Having received no Response from Respondent, using the same contact details and methods as were used for the Commencement Notification, the Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
On September 24, 2003, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed Hon. Ralph Yachnin 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." 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.
A. Complainant makes the following assertions:
1. Respondent’s <qwestwirless.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s QWEST mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <qwestwirless.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <qwestwirless.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant is one of the largest international telecommunication services companies in the world. Complainant serves over 30 million customers in the United States and abroad. Complainant offers web hosting services, managed solutions, high-speed Internet access, private networks, wireless data and other technologies and applications that enable global communications. Complainant owns more than 385 active QWEST trademark applications and registrations in more than 48 countries worldwide. Complainant also holds several registrations for the QWEST mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), including Reg. Nos. 1,966,694 (registered April 9, 1996) and 2,210,992 (registered December 15, 1998). Complainant has used the QWEST mark in commerce since 1985. Complainant has offered wireless telephone services under the QWEST WIRELESS mark since as early as June 2000. Complainant markets these services in a variety of media, including through a website located at the <qwestwireless.com> domain name.
Respondent registered the <qwestwirless.com> domain name on October 4, 2002. Respondent uses the disputed domain name to “mousetrap” Internet users in a series of pop-up advertisements. The disputed domain name links to several websites, including adult-oriented websites, gambling websites and websites that sell cell phones. Respondent also uses the <qwestwirless.com> domain name to divert Internet users to the <chevronusa.com> website for which Respondent receives a commission.
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."
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.
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.
Complainant has established rights in the QWEST mark through registration of the mark with the USPTO and use of the mark in commerce since 1985. See Men’s Wearhouse, Inc. v. Wick, FA 117861 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 16, 2002) (“Under U.S. trademark law, registered marks hold a presumption that they are inherently distinctive and have acquired secondary meaning”); see also Janus Int’l Holding Co. v. Rademacher, D2002-0201 (WIPO Mar. 5, 2002) (finding that Panel decisions have held that registration of a mark is prima facie evidence of validity, which creates a rebuttable presumption that the mark is inherently distinctive. Respondent has the burden of refuting this assumption).
Respondent’s <qwestwirless.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark because the disputed domain name fully incorporates the QWEST mark and merely adds the misspelled descriptive term “wirless.” The word “wireless” describes a service that Complainant provides; therefore, Respondent’s addition of the word “wirless” to Complainant’s mark is insufficient to circumvent the Panel from finding that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark. See Space Imaging LLC v. Brownell, AF-0298 (eResolution Sept. 22, 2000) (finding confusing similarity where Respondent’s domain name combines Complainant’s mark with a generic term that has an obvious relationship to Complainant’s business); see also Brown & Bigelow, Inc. v. Rodela, FA 96466 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 5, 2001) (finding that the <hoylecasino.net> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s HOYLE mark, and that the addition of “casino,” a generic word describing the type of business in which Complainant is engaged, does not take the disputed domain name out of the realm of confusing similarity).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
The record fails to establish that Respondent is authorized or licensed to register or use domain names that incorporate Complainant’s marks. The WHOIS information fails to establish that Respondent is commonly known by the <qwestwirless.com> domain name or the QWESTWIRLESS.COM mark. Therefore, the Panel concludes that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Charles Jourdan Holding AG v. AAIM, D2000-0403 (WIPO June 27, 2000) (finding no rights or legitimate interests where (1) Respondent is not a licensee of Complainant; (2) Complainant’s prior rights in the domain name precede Respondent’s registration; (3) Respondent is not commonly known by the domain name in question); see also Tercent, Inc. v. Yi, FA 139720 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 10, 2003) (stating “nothing in Respondent’s WHOIS information implies that Respondent is ‘commonly known by’ the disputed domain name” as one factor in determining that Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii) does not apply).
Furthermore, the Panel presumes that Respondent is receiving click-through fees from the Internet vendors that are linked to the <qwestwirless.com> domain name. Respondent’s domain name provides links to adult-oriented websites, gambling websites and websites that compete with Complainant. Respondent’s attempt to commercially benefit from the misleading domain name by way of click-through fees earned via these links is evidence that Respondent is not using the disputed domain name for a bona fide offering of goods or services pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See Imation Corp. v. Streut, FA 125759 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 8, 2002) (finding no rights or legitimate interest where Respondent used the disputed domain name to redirect Internet users to an online casino); see also Black & Decker Corp. v. Clinical Evaluations, FA 112629 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 24, 2002) (holding that Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to redirect Internet users to commercial websites, unrelated to Complainant and presumably with the purpose of earning a commission or pay-per-click referral fee did not evidence rights or legitimate interests in the domain name); see also Brown & Bigelow, Inc. v. Rodela, FA 96466 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 5, 2001) (finding that infringing on another's well-known mark to provide a link to a pornographic site is not a legitimate or fair use).
In addition, Respondent has failed to contest the allegations of the Complaint, thus the Panel may presume that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. See Pavillion Agency, Inc. v. Greenhouse Agency Ltd., D2000-1221 (WIPO Dec. 4, 2000) (finding that Respondents’ failure to respond can be construed as an admission that they have no legitimate interest in the domain names), see also Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce v. D3M Virtual Reality, Inc., AF-0336 (eResolution Sept. 23, 2000) (finding no rights or legitimate interests where no such right or interest was immediately apparent to the Panel and Respondent did not come forward to suggest any right or interest it may have possessed).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
It can be inferred that Respondent had actual or constructive knowledge of Complainant’s rights in the QWEST mark because the mark has been registered with the USPTO and other authorities worldwide, the domain name fully incorporates the mark, and the mark is recognized internationally. Registration of a domain name, despite knowledge of Complainant’s rights, is evidence of bad faith registration pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii). See Samsonite Corp. v. Colony Holding, FA 94313 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 17, 2000) (finding that evidence of bad faith includes actual or constructive knowledge of a commonly known mark at the time of registration), see also Orange Glo Int’l v. Blume, FA 118313 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 4, 2002) (“Complainant’s OXICLEAN mark is listed on the Principal Register of the USPTO, a status that confers constructive notice on those seeking to register or use the mark or any confusingly similar variation thereof”); see also Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Fisher, D2000-1412 (WIPO Dec. 18, 2000) (finding that Respondent had actual and constructive knowledge of Complainant’s EXXON mark given the worldwide prominence of the mark and thus Respondent registered the domain name in bad faith).
Furthermore, Respondent has attempted to commercially benefit from the misleading <qwestwirless.com> domain name by linking the domain name to adult oriented websites, gambling websites, and websites in competition with Complainant. Respondent’s attempt to commercially benefit from the misleading domain name is evidence of bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. v. Shedon.com, D2000-0753 (WIPO Sept. 6, 2000) (finding that Respondent violated Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) by using the domain name <britannnica.com> to hyperlink to a gambling site), see also Kmart v. Khan, FA 127708 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 22, 2002) (finding that if Respondent profits from its diversionary use of Complainant's mark when the domain name resolves to commercial websites and Respondent fails to contest the Complaint, it may be concluded that Respondent is using the domain name in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv)); see also Youtv, Inc. v. Alemdar, FA 94243 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 25, 2000) (finding bad faith where Respondent attracted users to his website for commercial gain and linked his website to pornographic websites).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii) has been satisfied.
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <qwestwirless.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Hon. Ralph Yachnin. Panelist
Justice, Supreme Court, NY (Ret.)
Dated: October 6, 2003
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