Hot Topic, Inc. v. Xiao Liu
Claim Number: FA2001001877504
Complainant is Hot Topic, Inc. (“Complainant”), represented by Jorge Arciniega of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, California, United States. Respondent is Xiao Liu (“Respondent”), China.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <hottopicshirt.com>, registered with Chengdu West Dimension Digital Technology Co., Ltd..
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 2, 2020; the Forum received payment on January 2, 2020.
On January 6, 2020, Chengdu West Dimension Digital Technology Co., Ltd. confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <hottopicshirt.com> domain name is registered with Chengdu West Dimension Digital Technology Co., Ltd. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Chengdu West Dimension Digital Technology Co., Ltd. has verified that Respondent is bound by the Chengdu West Dimension Digital Technology Co., Ltd. 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 7, 2020, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint, setting a deadline of January 27, 2020 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 7, 2020, 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 January 29, 2020, 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 HOT TOPIC. Complainant holds a national registration for that trademark. Complainant submits 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 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 sells clothing by reference to the trademark HOT TOPIC;
2. Complainant owns United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) Reg. No. 2,387,608, registered on September 19, 2000 for the trademark; and
3. the disputed domain name was registered on June 1, 2018 and resolves to an English language website selling clothing.
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."
As a preliminary matter, the Panel notes that the registration agreement is written in the Chinese language, thus making Chinese the language of these proceedings. Nevertheless, the Panel has a residual discretion to determine that the proceedings should continue in another language if it is expeditious to do so and not prejudicial to either party. In this instance, Complainant petitions the Panel to conduct the proceedings in English and in support of that request points to the fact that the resolving website in written in English. The Panel takes note of that fact and of the fact that the domain name itself combines the trademark with an English language word which relates to clothing. Pursuant to UDRP Rule 11(a), the Panel finds that persuasive evidence to suggest the likelihood that Respondent is proficient in the English language and so decides that the proceedings should be in English.
Moving on to the substantive issues, 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.
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 therefore has rights since it provides proof of its registration of the trademark HOT TOPIC with the USPTO, a national trademark authority.
For the purposes of comparison of the disputed domain name with the trademark, the gTLD, “.com” can be disregarded (see, for example, Am. Int’l Group, Inc. v. Domain Admin. Ltd., FA 1106369 (Forum Dec. 31, 2007)). The disputed domain name then differs from the trademark by addition of the descriptive word “shirt.” The Panel finds that the domain name is confusingly similar to the trademark.
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 name of the domain name owner, “Xiao Liu,” does not carry any suggestion that Respondent might be commonly known by the domain name. Further, Complainant asserts that it did not authorize Respondent to register or use its trademark, that Respondent is not affiliated with, associated with, or otherwise endorsed by Complainant.
The Complaint includes evidence of the website resolving from the domain name. It shows articles of clothing, principally shirts, for sale. Such competitive use is not a bona fide offering of goods or services or legitimate non-commercial or fair use under the Policy (see, for example, General Motors LLC v. MIKE LEE, FA 1659965 (Forum Mar. 10, 2016) finding that “use of a domain to sell products and/or services that compete directly with a complainant’s business does not constitute 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).”).
A prima facie case has been made and so the onus shifts to Respondent. In the absence of a Response, the Panel finds that Respondent has not discharged the onus and finds the Respondent has no rights or interests.
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 Respondent’s conduct falls under paragraph 4(b)(iv) above. The Panel has already found the disputed domain name to be confusingly similar to the trademark. The resolving website exists for commercial gain. In terms of the Policy, the Panel finds that Respondent is using the domain name to intentionally attract, for commercial gain, internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the trade mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of that website.
The 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 <hottopicshirt.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Debrett G. Lyons, Panelist
January 30, 2020
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