Hallmark Licensing, LLC v. Jarod Hallmark
Claim Number: FA2101001929310
Complainant is Hallmark Licensing, LLC (“Complainant”), represented by Laura Ganoza of Foley & Lardner LLP, Missouri, USA. Respondent is Jarod Hallmark (“Respondent”), Texas, USA.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <hallmark.tv>, registered with Gandi SAS.
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 21, 2021; the Forum received payment on January 21, 2021.
On January 22, 2021, Gandi SAS confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <hallmark.tv> domain name is registered with Gandi SAS and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Gandi SAS has verified that Respondent is bound by the Gandi SAS 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 27, 2021, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint, setting a deadline of February 16, 2021 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 27, 2021, 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 February 17, 2021, 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 HALLMARK. Complainant holds a national registration for that trademark. Complainant submits that the domain name is identical or 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 having targeted Complainant’s business.
Respondent failed to submit a formal Response in this proceeding.
The factual findings pertinent to the decision in this case are that:
1. Complainant sells greeting cards by reference to the trademark HALLMARK;
2. Complainant owns United States Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”) Reg. No. 525,798, registered May 30, 1950 for HALLMARK;
3. Respondent registered the disputed domain name on March 19, 2019;
4. the domain name is not in use; and
5. there is no relationship between the parties and Complainant has not authorized Respondent to use its trademark or register any domain name incorporating that trademark.
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 based on 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 and inferences set forth in the Complaint as true unless the evidence is clearly contradictory[i].
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.
Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy does not distinguish between registered and unregistered trademark rights. It is well established by decisions under this Policy that a trademark registered with a national authority is evidence of trademark rights[ii]. Complainant provides evidence of a national registration for the trademark HALLMARK and so the Panel finds that Complainant has rights in that trademark.
The domain name takes the trademark and simply adds the ccTLD “.tv”. The Panel finds the domain name to be legally identical to the trademark for the purposes of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy[iii].
Accordingly, Complainant has satisfied the first element 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 non-commercial 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[iv].
The publicly available WhoIs information identifies of the domain name registrant as “Jarod Hallmark”. Although Respondent’s given family name corresponds with the trademark there is no corroborating evidence that Respondent might be commonly known by the disputed domain name. There is no evidence that Respondent has any trademark rights of its own. As stated, the domain name is not in use. Inactive holding of a domain name does not qualify as a bona fide offering of goods or services or a legitimate non-commercial or fair use within the meaning of Policy. The Panel finds that Complainant has made a prima facie case that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name[v].
The onus shifts to Respondent to establish a legitimate interest and, absent a Response, that prima facie case is not rebutted and the Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or interests and so finds that Complainant has satisfied this second limb of the Policy.
Complainant must prove on the balance of probabilities both that the disputed domain names were 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 registration and use in bad faith. The Panel has not been presented with any explanation for adoption of Complainant’s mark. The evidence shows that Complainant’s trademark has been used for many decades and is well-known. In accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, the Panel draws the reasonable inference that Respondent knew of the trademark and of Complainant’s business at the time it registered the disputed domain name. The Panel finds that Respondent did not have a legitimate use in mind when registering the domain name and so finds registration in bad faith under the Policy.
Albeit that the disputed domain name is not being used the Panel accepts that the trademark is well-known and cannot envisage any use of the disputed domain name which would be in good faith. Accordingly, the Panel finds so-called passive holding in bad faith and so finds registration in bad faith in line with the principles first enunciated in Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, D2000-0003 (WIPO Feb. 18, 2000).
The Panel finds registration and use in bad faith and so 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 <hallmark.tv> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Debrett G. Lyons, Panelist
Dated: February 22, 2021
[i] See, for example, Vertical Solutions Mgmt., Inc. v. webnet-marketing, inc., FA 95095 (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; 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.”)
[ii] See, for example, State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Periasami Malain, FA 705262 (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).”)
[iii] See, for example, Enterprise Holdings, Inc. v. Du Jian, FA 1512763 (Forum Sept. 5, 2013) finding that “Consideration of the necessary top level domain name is irrelevant to Policy ¶4(a)(i) analysis. Therefore the Panel concludes that the <enterprise.tv> domain name is identical to Complainant’s ENTERPRISE mark.”
[iv] See, for example, Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, D2000‑0624 (WIPO Aug. 21, 2000).
[v] See, for example, Bloomberg L.P. v. SC Media Servs. & Info. SRL, FA 296583 (Forum Sept. 2, 2004) (“Respondent is wholly appropriating Complainant’s mark and is not using the <bloomberg.ro> domain name in connection with an active website. The Panel finds that the [failure to make an active use] of a domain name that is identical to Complainant’s mark is not a bona fide offering of goods or services pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) and it is not a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii).”).
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