WIPO

 

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

 

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

People For the American Way v. Glen A. Williamson

Case No. D2001-1006

 

1. The Parties

The Complainant is People For the American Way, a nonprofit organization, located at 2000 M Street, N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036, United States of America.

Represented by: Steven P. Hollman, Esq., Hogan & Hartson L.L.P., Columbia Square, 555 Thirteenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004-1109, United States of America.

The Respondent is Glen A. Williamson, a resident of Danville, Virginia, United States of America, at the following contact address: 372 Norwood Drive, Danville, VA 24540, United States of America.

Represented by: Representing itself.

 

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The domain name at issue is <peoplefortheamericanway.org>.

The Registrar is Internet Domain Registrars d/b/a Registrars.com and IDR, 411 First Avenue South, Suite 200 N, Seattle, Washington 98104, United States of America.

 

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was received by the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center ("the Center") by e-mail on August 7, 2001, and in hard copy August 10, 2001. The Center has verified that the Complaint satisfies the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("the Policy"), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("the Rules"), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("the Supplemental Rules") and that the payment required for this proceeding was properly made. The Administrative Panel ("the Panel") is satisfied that this is the case.

The Complaint was properly noticed to Respondent according to Paragraph 2(a) of the Rules. Respondent was informed that the last day for filing its Response was September 5, 2001. No Response has been received. The Center issued to the Respondent a Notification of Respondent Default on September 7, 2001, informing Respondent of the consequences of its default.

The Panel has been properly constituted. The undersigned Sole Panelist submitted a Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence. No further submissions were received by the Center or the Panel. Consequently, the date scheduled for the issuance of the Panelís Decision, pursuant to the request of the Sole Panelist, is October 25, 2001.

 

4. Factual Background

According to the record before the Panel, Complainant, People For the American Way, is a non-profit organization. Since at least October 16, 1980, Complainant has used the service mark PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY throughout the United States. Complainant uses the marks to identify its advocacy services, to promote the interests of the public concerned with the historic American commitment to a pluralistic society and to the ideals of tolerance, diversity, and freedom of expression, and to advance Complainantís distinctive agenda.

Complainant obtained United States Trademark Registration Nos. 1,230,597 and 2,274,420 for the mark PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY and Design on March 8, 1983 and August 31, 1999, respectively. Both of the service mark registrations identify Complainantís advocacy services.

On or about January 9, 2001, Respondent registered the domain name <peoplefortheamericanway.org>. On the website in connection with the above domain name, Respondent espouses political views opposite to Complainantís. Respondent recently has been using a graphical banner identical to Complainantís featuring a collage consisting of the preamble to the United States Constitution, the American flag, and the United States Capitol Building. Respondentís banner contains the identical "Issues" and "News" buttons located directly below the collage as on Complainant's website. Respondent also links to the domain name at issue from at least eleven (11) different pages on at least three (3) different domain names registered to Respondent including <www.ntsc-tv.com>, <www.williamson-labs.com>, and <www.woodall-auto.com>. These links are hidden from the view of visitors to these websites.

On or about April 27, 2001, Complainant sent Respondent a letter notifying him that his use of the domain name violated Complainant's registered service marks. Respondent refused to discontinue using the domain name. Respondent later replaced the content of his website with an email message and the repeating text "THIS IS A BLANK PAGE."

 

5. The Partiesí Contentions

5.1. Complainant

Complainant contends that Respondentís registration and use of the domain name <peoplefortheamericanway.org> violate Complainantís rights in the registered service marks PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY.

Complainant claims that the domain name at issue is identical or confusingly similar to Complainantís registered service marks.

Complainant also claims that Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in respect of the domain name at issue. Complainant registered the service marks PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY on March 8, 1983, and August 31, 1999, respectively. Complainant has been using the service marks since at least October 16, 1980. Respondent can not claim or show any rights to the domain name at issue that are superior to Complainantís rights in its registered service marks.

Complainant further claims that Respondent has registered and is using the domain name in bad faith. Complainant alleges that there is no evidence that Respondent was unaware of Complainantís registered service marks when Respondent registered for the domain name at issue. Respondent disrupts Complainantís business and capitalizes on Complainant's goodwill by diverting unsuspecting Internet users to Respondentís website. Respondentís bad faith is further evidenced by its use of the domain designation ".org", which is frequently used by not-for-profit organizations. Respondent appears to be neither a not-for-profit organization nor a member of an entity named People For the American Way.

Complainant requests that the contested domain name be transferred to Complainant.

5.2. Respondent

The Respondent has submitted no response.

 

6. Discussion and Findings

Paragraph 4a of the Policy requires that a respondent submit to a mandatory administrative proceeding if a complainant asserts that:

(i) the domain name registered by the respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and

(ii) the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and

(iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

In this case, even though Respondent filed no Response and offered no evidence attacking the Complainantís contentions, the Panel nevertheless reviews the evidence before it to determine whether Complainant has supported each of the above required elements in its contentions within the existing record.

6.1. Identity or Confusing Similarity

In connection with Paragraph 4a(i) of the Policy, the Panel finds that domain name <peoplefortheamericanway.org> is essentially identical to or confusingly similar to Complainantís registered service marks PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY.

6.2. Rights or Legitimate Interests

In connection with Paragraph 4a(ii) of the Policy, the Panel finds that Complainant exclusively owns the federal trademark registrations for the marks PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY. Complainant has never authorized Respondent to use or appropriate PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY as a trade or service mark or as the sole content in a domain name. Further, Respondent has never sought Complainantís permission to use its registered service marks. Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the domain name at issue.

6.3. Bad Faith

The Panel notes that Paragraph 4a(iii) of the Policy will be satisfied only if the complainant proves that the domain name registration was undertaken in bad faith and that the circumstances of the case are such that the respondent is continuing to act in bad faith. See WIPO Case No. D2000-0003.

In this case, Respondent registered the domain name at issue on January 9, 2001, - more than seventeen (17) years after Complainant registered the first PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY service mark. There is no evidence that Respondent was unaware of Complainantís registered service marks when Respondent registered the domain name. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the domain name at issue has been registered in bad faith.

The Panel also finds that Respondentís use of the domain name diverts unsuspecting Internet users to Respondentís website, where Respondent espouses opposite political views to Complainantís. To that extent, Respondentís use of the domain name not only prevents Complainant from legitimate use of the domain name but also leads users to believe that the views posted on Respondent's website are Complainantís. Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondentís use of the domain name has disrupted Complainantís advocacy services.

Moreover, Respondent adopts identical collage and "Issue" and "News" button designs to those on Complainantís website at <http://www.pfaw.org>. Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondentís use of the domain name at issue capitalizes on Complainant's goodwill.

Furthermore, Respondent uses the domain designation ".org", which is frequently used by not-for-profit organizations. Respondent, however, appears to be neither a not-for-profit organization nor a member of an entity named People For the American Way. In light of these facts, the Panel finds that the domain name is being used in bad faith.

Finally, Respondentís failure to present any evidence or to deny Complainantís allegations allows an inference that the evidence if presented would not have been favorable to Respondent. See WIPO Case No. D2000-0004. Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent has registered and is using the domain name in bad faith.

 

7. Decision

Based on the above findings, the Panel concludes that (a) the domain name at issue is either identical or confusingly similar to Complainantís registered service marks PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY, (b) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in the domain name at issue, and (c) Respondent has registered and is using the domain name in bad faith. Therefore, pursuant to Paragraph 4a of the Policy, the Panel orders that the domain names at issue be transferred to Complainant.

 


 

Charles E. Miller
Sole Panelist

Dated: October 24, 2001