WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center



Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., v. Don Reid

Case No. D2000-0232


On March 30, 2000, the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center received from Complainant, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., a complaint for decision in accordance with the Uniform Policy for Domain Name Dispute Resolution, adopted by the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on August 26, 1999 ("Policy"), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, approved by ICANN on October 24, 1999 ("Rules"), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. The instant Administrative Proceeding was commenced on April 11, 2000.

Respondent, Don Reid, failed to respond to the complaint within the twenty (20) day period provided for in ¶5(a) of the Rules, i.e., by May 1, 2000, and a "Notification of Respondent’s Default," dated May 5, 2000, was forwarded by WIPO to Respondent. Subsequently, on May 17, 2000, Respondent filed a four-page response to the complaint [1].

Complainant owns the following U.S. trademark and service mark registrations: (1) AL-ANON (No. 1,248,901) for books, pamphlets and other printed material concerning alcoholism and the needs and interests of family members of problem drinkers, with a date of first use of 1965; (2) AL-ANON (No. 1,205,820) for association services involving the aiding of family members of persons with drinking problems, with a date of first use of 1952; (3) ALATEEN (No. 1,024,337) for association services involving the promotion of the interests of teenage children of problem drinkers, with a date of first use of August 1957; and (4) ALATEEN (No. 1,248,311) for books and other printed matter concerning alcoholism and the needs and interests of family members of problem drinkers, with a date of first use of 1960. (See Exhibit C to Complaint).

Complainant operates its own Web site at "al-anon.alateen.org". The evidence does not indicate when this domain name was registered. Respondent, apparently, registered the domain name in dispute, "al-anon-alateen.org", in October 1996. (See Exhibit A to Complaint).


I determine that Complainant has clearly established that the domain name "is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights," within the meaning of ¶4. a.(i) of the Policy. The domain name in dispute, "al-anon-alateen.org" combines two terms - "Al-Anon" and "Alateen" - in which Complainant, through its preexisting use and trademark and service mark registrations, has "rights."

I also conclude, however, that Complainant has failed to prove either that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the respect of the domain name or registered and used the domain name in bad faith, within the meaning of ¶4. a.(ii) and (iii) of the Policy. The evidence appears to establish that Respondent, prior to notice of this dispute, used the domain name in connection with the bona fide offering of services. The printout from Respondent's Web site home page reveals that viewers of the site may access informational pages about the Al-Anon/Alateen program. This constitutes a bona fide offering of services. [2]

It is also clear from a review of Respondent's Web site that Respondent conspicuously informs viewers that his site is not the official Al-Anon/Alateen Web site. Indeed, Respondent's Web site appears to provide a link to Complainant's Web site. In my opinion, this is evidence of good faith on the part of Respondent and precludes any determination that Respondent intentionally attempted to attract Internet users to his Web site by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of Respondent's Web site.

There is some evidence in this case that may be interpreted to support a determination of "bad faith" registration and use. Most notably, Respondent, in response to Complainant's counsel's "cease and desist" letter of February 11, 2000, offered to transfer his domain name for "suitable monetary compensation." It is not clear, however, whether such "suitable monetary compensation" constitutes "valuable consideration in excess of [Respondent's] out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name," within the meaning of ¶4.b.(i) of the Policy. Even if it does, I conclude that the totality of the evidence does not support a determination that Respondent registered and uses the domain name in "bad faith."

In view of the above, Complainant's request that the domain name "al-anon-alateen.org" be transferred [3] from Respondent to Complainant is DENIED.



Jeffrey M. Samuels

June 5, 2000


1. In a letter to the Panel dated May 30, 2000, Complainant's counsel argued that Respondent's response should not be considered because it was submitted more than two weeks after the due date and because Respondent failed to certify that the information contained in the response is complete and accurate to the best of Respondent's knowledge, in accordance with ¶5(b)(viii) of the Rules. ¶5(e) of the Rules provides that "[i]f a Respondent does not submit a response, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, the Panel shall decide the dispute based upon the complaint." Since a response was not filed on a timely basis and "exceptional circumstances" have not been established, the Panel did not consider the arguments raised in the late-filed four-page response.

2. As noted in the Second Staff Report on Implementation Documents for the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy, posted October 25, 1999, "[i]t should be emphasized that a finding of legitimate right under paragraph 4 (c) means only that the streamlined dispute-resolution procedure is not available and that the dispute is a `legitimate' one that should be decided by the courts. Even though the dispute is legitimate, the domain-name holder's right may not ultimately prevail over a trademark in court."

3. In its complaint, Complainant requested, by way of relief, that Respondent's domain name be cancelled. However, in its May 30 letter to the Panel, Complainant amended its prayer for relief to seek transfer of the domain name to Complainant.