Latin Grocer.com, Miami, FL,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME(s)
The domain names at issue are “ETHNICGROCERY.COM”, “ETHNICGROCERIES.COM”, “QUERICA.COM”, “QUESRICO.COM”, “QUERICOGROCER.COM”, “QUERICOGROCERS.COM”, “QUERICOGROCERY.COM”, and “QUERICOGROCERIES.COM” registered with Network Solutions, Inc. (“NSI”).
Judge Harold Kalina (Ret.) as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum ("The Forum") electronically on 03/31/2000; The Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on 03/31/2000.
On 05/07/2000, NSI confirmed by e-mail to The Forum that the domain names “ETHNICGROCERY.COM”, “ETHNICGROCERIES.COM”, “QUERICA.COM”, “QUESRICO.COM”, “QUERICOGROCER.COM”, “QUERICOGROCERS.COM”, “QUERICOGROCERY.COM”, and “QUERICOGROCERIES.COM” are registered with NSI and that the Respondent is the current registrant of these names. NSI has verified that Respondent is bound by the Network Solutions Service Agreement Version 5.0 and has thereby agreed to resolve domain-name disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANN’s UDRP.
On 04/05/2000, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification") was transmitted to Respondent via email, post and fax, and to all entities and persons listed on Respondent’s registration as technical, administrative and billing contacts by email. The parties requested an extension period to negotiate a settlement, setting a default deadline of 05/17/2000 by which Respondent could file a Response to the Complaint.
On 05/17/200, 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 July 5, 2000, pursuant to Complainant’s request to have the dispute decided by a Single Member panel, The Forum appointed Judge Harold Kalina (Ret.) as Panelist.
Having reviewed the communications records in the case file, the Administrative Panel (the "Panel") finds that The Forum has discharged its responsibility under Paragraph 2(a) of the Uniform 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 the Respondent.
The Complainant requests that the domain names be transferred from the Respondent to the Complainant.
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has registered a domain name that is confusingly similar to its trademark registered for and in use by the Complainant. Further, the Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests to the domain name, and that the respondent has registered and is using the domain name in bad faith.
The Respondent submitted no response in this matter.
The Complainant is a web-based provider of ethnic foods and products. In 1998, the Complainant registered the domain names <ethnicgrocer.com> and <querico.com> for use in connection with its online services. The Complainant filed for U.S. trademark registration for the marks ETHNICGROCER.COM (No. 75/818109) and QUERICO.COM (75/818110) on 10/08/1999.
In July 1999, the Complainant and the Complainant’s marks and domain names received national press coverage in U.S. News & World Report. This publication issue dated July 26, 1999 was available on the newsstands on July 19, 1999. This incident generated significant interest in the Complainant’s business, and its websites now generate on the average a total of over 500,000 hits per day.
The Respondent offers Latin foods and products, similar to the Complainant, on its website, <latingrocer.com>. On 12/06/1999, the Complainant contacted the Respondent regarding a previously registered site that was similar to the Complainant’s marks. The Respondent registered the domain names in question between the dates of 12/06/1999 and 12/27/1999. The Respondent uses the domain names for varying purposes, including: as a pass-through site to the Respondent’s site, as a “virtual mail administration page” to send email to the Respondent, as an unused site, and to display a “coming soon” message.
Paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN Uniform Domain Name Dispute Policy (“Policy”) requires that the complainant must prove each of the following three elements to support a claim that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred:
(1) the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(2) the 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.
Identical and/or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has rights in the marks ETHNICGROCER.COM and QUERICO.COM.
The domain names in question is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s marks. The terms “ETHNICGROCER” and “QUERICO” are the most significant and dominant terms of the marks. The changes that the Respondent has made to the Complainant’s marks are minor and cause great confusion as to the location of the Complainant’s site. The association between the dominant terms of the Complainant’s mark is vital in maintaining a business in today’s e-commerce society. . See Marriott Int’l, Inc. v. Café au lait, FA 93670 (Nat. Arb. Forum March 13, 2000) (holding that the Respondent’s domain name <Marriott-Hotel.com> was confusingly similar to Marriott’s marks and domain name <Marriott.com>).
Rights or Legitimate Interests
Complainant asserts that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain names in question. The Respondent has not denied that assertion.
The domain name in question is not a term by which the Respondent is commonly known. Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). Rather, the Respondent is commonly known as <latingrocer.com>.
The Respondent has made no claim that it is using the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services nor for a legitimate or fair use. Policy ¶ 4(c)(i), (iii). The Respondent registered the domain names in question within the course of one month. The sites serve as a pass-through site to the Respondent’s website (which competes with the Complainant’s business), as e-mail administration sites, or as unused sties. See Hewlett-Packard v. Full System, FA 94637 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 22, 2000) (finding that the Respondent had no legitimate interest in the domain name, <openmail.com>, that was being used to compete with the Complainant’s e-mail services); Telstra v. Nuclear Marshmallows, D2000-0003 (WIPO Feb. 18, 2000) (finding that passive holding of a domain name is evidence of no legitimate use and use in bad faith).
Based on the above, the panel concludes that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name in question.
Registration and Use in Bad Faith
The Complainant asserts that the Respondent acted and is acting in bad faith. The Respondent has not denied that assertion.
The Respondent registered and used the domain name in bad faith. Because the Respondent is a competitor of the Complainant, it is obvious that the Respondent knew of the Complainant’s marks. Some of Respondent’s sites pass users through to Respondent’s competing business. Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv).
In addition, the minor degree of variation from the Complainant's marks suggests that the Respondent registered the names primarily for the purpose of disrupting the Complainant's business. Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). This is evidence of registration of the domain name in bad faith. See Fossil Inc. v. NAS, FA 92525 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 23, 2000) (finding that the Respondent acted in bad faith by registering the domain name <fossilwatch.com> and using it to sell various watch brands).
Having established all three elements required by the ICANN Policy Rule 4(a), it is the decision of the panel that the requested relief be granted.
Accordingly, for all of the foregoing reasons, it is ordered that the domain names, “ETHNICGROCERY.COM”, “ETHNICGROCERIES.COM”, “QUERICA.COM”, “QUESRICO.COM”, “QUERICOGROCER.COM”, “QUERICOGROCERS.COM”, “QUERICOGROCERY.COM”, and “QUERICOGROCERIES.COM”, be transferred from the Respondent to the Complainant.
Judge Harold Kalina (Ret.)
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