Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. v. chen ran / shen zhen shi li xun shang mao you xian gong si
Claim Number: FA2009001913629
Complainant is Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. (“Complainant”), represented by Ryan C. Compton of DLA Piper LLP (US), District of Columbia, USA. Respondent is chen ran / shen zhen shi li xun shang mao you xian gong si (“Respondent”), China.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <grinch.shop> (“Domain Name”), registered with Alibaba Cloud Computing (Beijing) 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.
Nicholas J.T. Smith as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the Forum electronically on September 24, 2020; the Forum received payment on September 24, 2020.
On September 27, 2020, Alibaba Cloud Computing (Beijing) Co., Ltd. confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <grinch.shop> domain name is registered with Alibaba Cloud Computing (Beijing) Co., Ltd. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Alibaba Cloud Computing (Beijing) Co., Ltd. has verified that Respondent is bound by the Alibaba Cloud Computing (Beijing) 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 October 1, 2020, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint, setting a deadline of October 21, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Also on October 1, 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 October 27, 2020, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed Nicholas J.T. Smith 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.
The language of the Registration Agreement in this case is Chinese. The Complaint has been provided in English and Complainant has requested that the language of the proceeding be English.
It is established practice to take UDRP Rules 10(b) and (c) into consideration for the purpose of determining the language of the proceeding to ensure fairness and justice to both parties. Factors which previous panels have seen as particularly compelling are: WHOIS information which establishes Respondent in a country which would demonstrate familiarity with the English language, filing of a trademark registration with an entity which shows an understanding of the English language, and any evidence (or lack thereof) exhibiting Respondent’s understanding of the language requested by Complainant. See The Argento Wine Company Limited v. Argento Beijing Trading Company, D2009-0610 (WIPO July 1, 2009) (panel exercising discretion in deciding that the language of the proceedings advance in English, contrary to the Registration Agreement, based on evidence that respondent has command of the language). Further, the Panel may weigh the relative time and expense in enforcing the Chinese language agreement, which would result in prejudice toward either party. See Finter Bank Zurich v. Shumin Peng, D2006-0432 (WIPO June 12, 2006) (deciding that the proceeding should be in English, stating, “It is important that the language finally decided by the Panel for the proceeding is not prejudicial to either one of the parties in his or her ability to articulate the arguments for the case.”) and Zappos.com, Inc. v. Zufu aka Huahaotrade, Case No. D2008-1191 (WIPO October 15, 2008) (holding that proceedings could be conducted in English even though the registration agreement was in Chinese where “the disputed domain resolves to a website [that] is exclusively in English, from which can be reasonably presumed that the Respondent has the ability to communicate in English in order to conduct his business over the website in English”)
Pursuant to UDRP Rule 11(a), the Panel finds that persuasive evidence has been adduced by Complainant to suggest the likely possibility that the Respondent is conversant and proficient in the English language. The website to which the Domain Name resolved prior to the commencement of the proceeding (“Respondent’s Website”) is entirely in English, including detailed English-language terms of service. The products offered on the Respondent’s Website contain English-language wording and are priced in dollars, indicating that the website likely targets consumers in an English-language country that uses the dollar as a currency (most likely the United States). After considering the circumstances of the present case, including the material referred to above indicating that the Respondent is clearly able to communicate in English, and noting that the Respondent has not made any submissions or suggested in any way that it wishes to actively participate in the proceeding, the Panel decides that the proceeding should be continued in the English language.
Complainant, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., is a children’s entertainment company. Complainant has rights in the GRINCH mark based upon the registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) (e.g., Reg. No. 2,328,812, registered Mar. 14, 2000). Respondent’s <grinch.shop> domain name is identical to Complainant’s GRINCH mark because it fully incorporates the mark, simply adding the “.shop” generic top-level domain (“gTLD”).
Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the <grinch.shop> domain name. Respondent is not licensed or otherwise permitted to use Complainant’s GRINCH mark and is not commonly known by the Domain Name. Additionally, Respondent does not use the Domain Name for any bona fide offering of goods or services or legitimate noncommercial or fair use. Instead, Respondent uses the Domain Name to offer various apparel for sale under Complainant’s GRINCH mark (which is registered for goods including apparel) in competition with Complainant.
Respondent registered and uses the <grinch.shop> domain name in bad faith. Respondent disrupts Complainant’s business and attracts Internet users to its website for commercial gain by offering apparel for sale. Additionally, Respondent had actual knowledge of Complainant’s rights in the GRINCH mark at the time the Domain Name was registered.
Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant holds trademark rights for the GRINCH mark. The Domain Name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s GRINCH mark. Complainant has established that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the use of the Domain Name and that Respondent registered and has used the Domain Name in bad faith.
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(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 set forth in a complaint; however, the Panel may deny relief where a complaint contains mere conclusory or unsubstantiated arguments. See WIPO Jurisprudential Overview 3.0 at ¶ 4.3; see also 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”).
Complainant has rights in the GRINCH mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) through its registration of the mark with the USPTO (e.g Reg. No. 2,328,812, registered Mar. 14, 2000). Registration of a mark with the USPTO is sufficient to establish rights in that mark. See 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).”).
The Panel finds that the <grinch.shop> Domain Name is identical to the GRINCH mark as it fully incorporates the GRINCH mark adding only the “.shop” gTLD. Addition of a gTLD to a mark is irrelevant in examining confusing similarity under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See 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.”).
The Panel finds Complainant has satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).
Complainant alleges that Respondent holds no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. In order for Complainant to succeed under this element, it must first make a prima facie case that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the Domain Name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii), and then the burden shifts to Respondent to show it does have rights or legitimate interests. See Hanna-Barbera Prods., Inc. v. Entm’t Commentaries, FA 741828 (Forum Aug. 18, 2006) and AOL LLC v. Gerberg, FA 780200 (Forum Sept. 25, 2006) (“Complainant must first make a prima facie showing that Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interest in the subject domain names, which burden is light. If Complainant satisfies its burden, then the burden shifts to Respondent to show that it does have rights or legitimate interests in the subject domain names.”). The Panel holds that Complainant has made out a prima facie case.
Complainant asserts that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name as Respondent is not commonly known by the Domain Name, nor has Complainant authorized Respondent to use the GRINCH mark. Respondent has no relationship, affiliation, connection, endorsement or association with Complainant. WHOIS information can help support a finding that a respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name, especially where a privacy service has been engaged. See State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Dale Anderson, FA1504001613011 (Forum May 21, 2015) (concluding that because the WHOIS record lists “Dale Anderson” as the registrant of the disputed domain name, the respondent was not commonly known by the <statefarmforum.com> domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii)); see also Kohler Co. v. Privacy Service, FA1505001621573 (Forum July 2, 2015) (holding that the respondent was not commonly known by the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii) where “Privacy Service” was listed as the registrant of the disputed domain name). The WHOIS lists “chen ran / shen zhen shi li xun shang mao you xian gong si” as registrant of record. Coupled with Complainant’s unrebutted assertions as to absence of any affiliation or authorization between the parties, the Panel finds that Respondent is not commonly known by the Domain Name in accordance with Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii).
Complainant alleges that Respondent uses the Domain Name to sell products under the GRINCH Mark, in direct competition with Complainant’s merchandise (noting that the GRINCH Mark is registered for goods including apparel and is frequently applied to apparel). The use of a confusingly similar domain name to resolve to a webpage that offers goods or services that directly compete with a complainant does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use; indeed it provides a false impression that the Respondent is affiliated with or authorized by Complainant. See Upwork Global Inc. v. Shoaib Malik, FA 1654759 (Forum Feb. 3, 2016) (finding that Complainant provides freelance talent services, and that Respondent competes with Complainant by promoting freelance talent services through the disputed domain’s resolving webpage, which is neither a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor is it a legitimate noncommercial or fair use). See also 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).”).
The Panel finds Complainant has satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).
The Panel finds that, at the time of registration of the Domain Name, August 13, 2020, Respondent had actual knowledge of Complainant’s GRINCH mark since the Complainant is a well-known entity (and its Grinch character is well-known) and the Respondent’s Website offers products in direct competition with Complainant. Furthermore, there is no obvious explanation, nor has one been provided, for an entity to register a domain name that contains the coined GRINCH mark and use it to redirect visitors to a website selling goods in direct competition with the Complainant other than to take advantage of Complainant’s reputation in the GRINCH Mark. In the absence of rights or legitimate interests of its own this demonstrates registration in bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii).
The Panel finds that Respondent registered and uses the Domain Name in bad faith to create confusion with Complainant’s GRINCH Mark for commercial gain by using the confusingly similar Domain Name to resolve to a website offering apparel in direct competition with the Complainant’s apparel. Using a confusingly similar domain name to trade upon the goodwill of a complainant can evince bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See 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).”). See also Citadel LLC and its related entity, KCG IP Holdings, LLC v. Joel Lespinasse / Radius Group, FA1409001579141 (Forum Oct. 15, 2014) (“Here, the Panel finds evidence of Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) bad faith as Respondent has used the confusingly similar domain name to promote its own financial management and consulting services in competition with Complainant.”).
The Panel finds Complainant has satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii).
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <grinch.shop> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Nicholas J.T. Smith, Panelist
Dated: October 28, 2020
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