Metropolitan Life Insurance Company v. Bin g Glu c/o G Design, no sale - building
Claim Number: FA0612000874496
Complainant is Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 1 MetLife Plaza, 27-01 Queens Plaza North,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAMES
The domain names at issue are <metllife.com> and <mettlife.com>, registered with Communigal Communications 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.
Bruce E. Meyerson as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to
the National Arbitration Forum electronically on
On January 9, 2007, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of January 29, 2007 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 email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.
Having received no response from Respondent, the National Arbitration Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
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." Therefore, the Panel may issue its decision based on the documents submitted and in accordance with the ICANN Policy, ICANN Rules, the National Arbitration 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 names be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.
A. Complainant makes the following assertions:
1. Respondent’s <metllife.com> and <mettlife.com> domain names are confusingly similar to Complainant’s METLIFE mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <metllife.com> and <mettlife.com> domain names.
3. Respondent registered and used the <metllife.com> and <mettlife.com> domain names in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, is a leader in the insurance and mortgage lending industries. In connection with the provision of these services, Complainant has registered a number of trade and service marks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), including the METLIFE mark (Reg. No. 1,541,862 issued May 30, 1989).
Respondent registered the disputed domain names on January 22, 2004. The disputed domain names resolve to websites that provide sponsored links to other websites.
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. 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) 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 asserts rights in the METLIFE mark through
registration with the USPTO. The Panel
finds that Complainant’s registration and extensive use of the METLIFE mark is
sufficient to establish rights in the mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Innomed Techs., Inc. v. DRP
Servs., FA 221171 (Nat. Arb. Forum
Respondent’s <metllife.com> and <mettlife.com> domain names are almost identical to Complainant’s METLIFE mark. The omission, addition, inversion or substitution of a letter is known as typosquatting and does not eliminate the confusing similarity between the domain name and Complainant’s mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). Respondent adds an extra “l” in the <metllife.com> domain name and an extra “t” in the <mettlife.com> domain name. The Panel finds that Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain names amounts to typosquatting therefore warranting a finding of confusing similarity under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Marriott Int'l, Inc. v. Seocho, FA 149187 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 28, 2003) (finding that the respondent's <marrriott.com> domain name was confusingly similar to the complainant's MARRIOTT mark); see also Neiman Marcus Group, Inc. v. Party Night, Inc., FA 114546 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 23, 2002) (finding that the <neimanmacus.com> domain name was a simple misspelling of the complainant’s NEIMAN MARCUS mark and was a classic example of typosquatting, which was evidence that the domain name was confusingly similar to the mark).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
Complainant contends that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. In instances where Complainant has made a prima facie case in support of its allegations, the burden shifts to Respondent to set forth substantial evidence establishing rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain names in accordance with Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). See Compagnie Generale des Matieres Nucleaires v. Greenpeace Int’l, D2001-0376 (WIPO May 14, 2001) (“For the purposes of this sub paragraph, however, it is sufficient for the Complainant to show a prima facie case and the burden of proof is then shifted on to the shoulders of Respondent.”); see also Woolworths plc. v. Anderson, D2000-1113 (WIPO Oct. 10, 2000) (finding that, absent evidence of preparation to use the domain name for a legitimate purpose, the burden of proof lies with the respondent to demonstrate that it has rights or legitimate interests).
The disputed domain names resolve to websites that feature links to various unrelated websites. The Panel finds that Respondent’s use of the disputed domain names is neither a bona fide offering of goods or services pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) nor a legitimate noncommercial use in accordance with Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See Seiko Kabushiki Kaisha v. CS into Tech, FA 198795 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 6, 2003) (“Diverting customers, who are looking for products relating to the famous SEIKO mark, to a website unrelated to the mark is not a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i), nor does it represent a noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii).”); see also Golden Bear Int’l, Inc. v. Kangdeock-ho, FA 190644 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 17, 2003) (“Respondent's use of a domain name confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark to divert Internet users to websites unrelated to Complainant's business does not represent a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii).”).
Complainant alleges that Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain names nor authorized to register domain names featuring Complainant’s METLIFE mark in any way. In recognition of the lack of evidence to suggest otherwise, the Panel finds that Respondent has not established rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names in accordance with Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Gallup, Inc. v. Amish Country Store, FA 96209 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 23, 2001) (finding that the respondent does not have rights in a domain name when the respondent is not known by the mark); see also RMO, Inc. v. Burbridge, FA 96949 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 16, 2001) (interpreting Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii) "to require a showing that one has been commonly known by the domain name prior to registration of the domain name to prevail").
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
The disputed domain names resolve to websites displaying links to various unrelated websites, from which Respondent presumably receives click-through fees. The Panel finds that such use for Respondent’s own commercial gain demonstrates registration and use in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Qwest Comm’ns Int’l Inc. v. Ling Shun Shing, FA 187431 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 6, 2003) (“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 also G.D. Searle & Co. v. Celebrex Drugstore, FA 123933 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 21, 2002) (finding that the respondent registered and used the domain name in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) because the respondent was using the confusingly similar domain name to attract Internet users to its commercial website).
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 <metllife.com> and <mettlife.com> domain names be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Bruce E. Meyerson, Panelist
Dated: February 13, 2007
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