WIPO

 

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

 

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Park Place Entertainment Corporation v. Anything.com Ltd.

Case No. D2002-0530

 

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Park Place Entertainment Corporation, a corporation organized in the State of Delaware, United States of America (USA), with place of business in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

The Respondent is Anything.com Ltd., with address in George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

 

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name is <flamingo.com>.

The registrar of the disputed domain name is Tucows, Inc., with business address in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

 

3. Procedural History

The essential procedural history of the administrative proceeding is as follows:

(a) The Complainant initiated the proceeding by the filing of a Complaint via e-mail received by the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on June 6, 2002, and via courier mail received by the Center on June 10, 2002. On June 7, 2002, the Center transmitted a Request for Registrar Verification to the registrar, Tucows, Inc., with the Registrarís response received by the Center on June 7, 2002.

(b) On June 11, 2002, the Center transmitted notification of the Complaint and commencement of the proceeding to Respondent via e-mail and courier mail. The Center indicated that the last day for filing a response was July 1, 2002.

(c) By e-mail of June 24, 2002, Respondent requested a 20-day extension of the due date for filing its response. In response to a request from the Center for any comments, Complainant indicated that it would not object to the extension, provided that it would be allowed to file a reply to the Response. Respondent indicated that it would not object to the filing of a reply by Complainant. On June 25, 2002, the Center granted to Respondent an extension until July 21, 2002, for filing its Response, noting that the question whether supplemental submissions would be accepted is within the discretion of the panel that would be appointed to decide the case.

(d) On July 21, 2002, the Center received a Response from Respondent via e-mail, and subsequently received the Response in hardcopy. Complainant elected to have this dispute decided by a three-member panel, and paid the requisite filing fees due in connection with that election.

(e) On August 12, 2002, the Center received via e-mail (and subsequently in hardcopy) Complainantís request for leave to file a reply, and the reply. An exchange of e-mails among the parties and the Center followed in regard to the form of Complainantís submission.

(f) On August 20, 2002, the Center received via e-mail Respondentís petition for consideration of Respondentís supplemental reply, and the supplemental reply.

(g) On August 22, 2002, following receipt of executed Statements of Acceptance and Declarations of Impartiality and Independence, the Center appointed Frederick M. Abbott (presiding), John R. Keys, Jr. and David E. Sorkin to serve as the Administrative Panel (the "Panel") in this matter. The Center so notified Complainant and Respondent. The Center notified the Panel that, absent exceptional circumstances, it would be required to forward its decision to the Center by September 5, 2002. The Panel received electronic and hard copy files from the Center.

(h) Following notification from the Panel of circumstances requiring an extension of the date for decision in this matter, the Center notified the parties that the projected date for a decision would be extended until September 12, 2002. At the Panelís request, a further extension was notified until September 16, 2002.

The Panel has not received any requests from Complainant or Respondent regarding further submissions, waivers or extensions of deadlines, and the Panel has not found it necessary to request any further information from the parties. The proceedings have been conducted in English.

 

4. Factual Background

Complainant [1] is the holder of service mark registrations on the Principal Register at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for the term "FLAMINGO" in word and stylized word form (Reg. No. 1948975, dated January 16, 1996, in International Class (IC) 41, covering "casino services", claiming date of first use and first use in commerce of November 1, 1993 (word); Reg. No. 2517266, dated December 11, 2001, in IC 41, covering "casino services and entertainment services" as further specified, claiming date of first use and first use in commerce of March 1947 (stylized word), and; Reg. No. 2517267, in IC 42, covering "resort hotel, hotel, bar, restaurant and health spa services", claiming date of first use and first use in commerce of March 1947 (stylized word)). Complainant also holds two registrations at the USPTO for service marks that combine "FLAMINGO" with additional terms (i.e. "FLAMINGO PLAYERS CLUB" and "FLAMINGO LAS VEGAS"). (Complaint, para. 22 and Exhibit H)

Complainantís best known "FLAMINGO" hotel and casino is in Las Vegas Nevada. This hotel was opened in 1946, is heavily advertised (in 2001, Complainant spent approximately $3,550,000 to promote it), and is the fifth largest hotel in the world. Over one million visitors stay overnight at the Flamingo Las Vegas each year. (Id., paras. 15 & 17)

Complainant operates commercial Internet websites at Internet address (URL) <lv-flamingo.com> and < laughlinflamingo.com>. In 2001, the website at <lv-flamingo.com> received approximately 2,500,000 visits. (Id., para. 18)

According to the registrarís (Tucows, Inc.ís) verification response to the Center, dated June 7, 2002, Respondent "Anything.com Ltd." is the listed registrant of the domain name <flamingo.com>. The registrarís response indicates that the record of registration was created on April 15, 1998, and was last updated on March 20, 2002.

Respondent maintains an active commercial website at URL < flamingo.com>. The <flamingo.com> home page states that "This Site is Planned for Development" and "In the Meantime, Try Searching the Internet for These Topics". The first "topic" on the list is "Flamingo". This link connects the visitor to a page headed "Top Results for: Flamingo". The "Top Results", with one exception, relate to hotels in Las Vegas. The first is headed "Rooms at the Flamingo Up to 60% Off", with link to <tripreservations.com>. This is illustrative of the remainder of the listings. The one exception is a link to < flamingomania.com>, "For Flamingo Gifts and Accessories". (Complaint, Exhibits O-P)

On the <flamingo.com> home page, in addition to the first "Flamingo" search heading, there are headings for "Flamingo hotel" and "Flamingo Las Vegas". The "Top Results" for "Flamingo Las Vegas" are links to various travel reservation services, some (but not all) of which refer expressly to Complainantís Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel. (Id., Exhibit O-P)

In addition to "Flamingo" search terms, the home page for <flamingo.com> includes various other terms such as "animal" and "bird seed", as well as "Other Popular Categories", such as "Airline Tickets" and "Weight Loss". (Id., Exhibit O)

Respondent indicates that it has registered numerous common word domain names to develop into websites and has invested over $200,000 in this activity, but due to the downturn in the Internet economy has postponed such development. Respondent indicates that it receives over 3 million visitors per month to its websites. Respondent has entered into an agreement with Overture Services Inc. (formerly Goto.com) which pays Respondent a share of revenues it receives in advertising for its links which are hosted on Respondentís websites. Respondentís vice president states "Anything.com registered flamingo.com because it is a common word which refers to the beautiful tropical bird", denying any bad faith intent (Response, Affidavit of Bernadette Selim, vice president, Anything.com Ltd., July 21, 2002).

Prior to initiating this proceeding, an agent of Complainant contacted counsel for Respondent regarding the status of the disputed domain name. During the first conversation regarding the name, Respondentís counsel indicated that Respondent was not interested in selling the name. In a subsequent e-mail to Complainantís agent, Respondentís counsel indicated that Respondent would be willing to sell it for $150,000. The parties are essentially in agreement regarding the substance of these exchanges. (Id., para. 57 & Exhibit Q and Response, para. III.C)

The Service Agreement in effect between Respondent and Tucows, Inc. subjects Respondent to Tucows, Inc.ís dispute settlement policy, the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Policy"), as adopted by ICANN on August 26, 1999, and with implementing documents approved by ICANN on October 24, 1999. The Policy requires that domain name registrants submit to a mandatory administrative proceeding conducted by an approved dispute resolution service provider, of which the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center is one, regarding allegations of abusive domain name registration and use (Policy, paragraph 4(a)).

 

5. Partiesí Contentions

A. Complainant

Complainant alleges that it has rights in the service mark "FLAMINGO" as evidenced by registration at the USPTO (see Factual Background, supra) and based on long and extensive use in commerce.

Complainant asserts that the "FLAMINGO" mark is "very well known" in connection with the hotel and casino industry, and is famous.

Complainant argues that the disputed domain name is identical or similar to its well known mark.

Complainant asserts that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Complainant states that Respondent is speculating in generic domain names, and that this does not establish rights or legitimate interests. Complainant argues that Respondent is not operating a website to provide information about a bird, but is seeking to divert Internet users seeking information about Complainant for Respondentís commercial purposes.

Complainant suggests that Respondent must have been aware of its famous mark at the time it undertook its registration of the disputed domain name. Complainant states that Respondentís corporate situs in Grand Cayman should not be understood to limit such awareness, since it believes Respondentís Grand Cayman status is a sham used to shield it from liability.

Complainant alleges that Respondent registered and has used the disputed domain name in bad faith. Complainant alleges that Respondent intended to and is in fact diverting Internet users to Respondentís commercial website by confusing such users as to Complainantís association with that website. Complainant further indicates that Respondentís failure to develop content on its website, coupled with its offer to sell the disputed domain name to Respondent, is evidence of its bad faith.

Complainant requests the Panel to direct the registrar to transfer the disputed domain name to it.

B. Respondent

Respondent states that "flamingo" is a common word in the English language, and that Complainant does not have exclusive rights to control all uses of that word. Respondent argues that it is in the business of registering common words as domain names with the intention of using those names to develop websites, and that it has developed numerous websites that are "custom-developed with relevant content and links specific to each website".

Respondent states that its current business is based on an arrangement with Overture Services, Inc., "the worldís leading provider of pay-for-performance search services", in which Respondent "agrees to host links provided by Overture on its domain name web pages". Respondent explains that the links are determined algorithmically to "automatically appear according to their relevance to the common word appearing in the domain name". Respondent also provides links on its common word websites for third party advertisement, such as for cameras.

Respondent states that use of the term "flamingo" on the Internet is widespread outside the context of Complainantís hotels and casinos, and that "There are over 900 third-party Internet domain names (.com, .net and .org) which incorporate Ďflamingoí". Respondent states that "there are over 50 active and pending registered trademarks and incorporate the common word Ďflamingoí".

Respondent indicates "Not only is there tremendous third party use of the word Ďflamingoí generally, but there is also substantial third party use worldwide in the hotel, resort and casino industry Ė the same field as Complainant. It lists a number of such businesses and provides web page support.

Respondent argues that it registered the disputed domain name because it is a common word with "worldwide appeal" and positive association with a beautiful bird. It did not register the name to prevent Complainant from registering it, to sell it to Complainant or any other party, or to confuse consumers as to an association with Complainant.

Respondent asserts that the associations with Complainantís hotels that are generated on its web page are computer generated based on relevance and popularity of the word "flamingo", and that the majority of links do not relate to Complainantís hotels. Respondent argues that its website does not suggest an association with Complainant. The links to travel services that offer reservations at Complainantís hotel are run by third party businesses that do in fact book rooms at Complainantís hotel, and have a right (implicitly acknowledged by Complainant through accepting the reservations) to do so. Respondent indicates that Overture would remove links to Complainantís hotel if it was requested by Complainant to do so, but that Complainant has not done this.

Respondent asserts that it has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name because it is using the term "flamingo" in connection with third party advertising in a descriptive sense, and this constitutes bona fide use in connection with providing services.

Respondent claims that the fact "flamingo" is an "extremely common word" "vested Respondent with irrevocable rights and a legitimate interest Ö at the point of registration". This is a "per se" right, according to Respondent. Respondent notes that it registered the disputed domain name over four years ago.

Respondent asserts that Complainantís failure to object to its use of the domain name for four years constitutes implicit endorsement of its legitimate interest, and that Complainantís inquiry regarding purchasing the name also reflects its belief that Respondent legitimately holds the registration.

Respondent argues that there is no evidence of bad faith registration and use. Respondent states that the common nature of the term "flamingo" and its wide use by third parties effectively precludes a finding that it has acted to take advantage of the fame of Complainantís mark, or that it registered the name to sell it to Complainant.

Respondent argues that multiple registration of common terms does not constitute evidence of bad faith.

Respondent argues that it could not have intended to attract Internet users based on an association with Complainantís mark since the links are based on Overtureís objective algorithm.

Respondent contends that its offer to sell the disputed domain name in response to an unsolicited inquiry is not evidence of bad faith, particularly since Respondent held the registration for four years and never contacted Complainant.

Respondent requests the panel to make a finding of reverse domain name hijacking since Complainant had no plausible basis for making a complaint on the basis of Respondentís registration and use of a common word as a domain name.

 

6. Discussion and Findings

The Policy is addressed to resolving disputes concerning allegations of abusive domain name registration and use. The Panel will confine itself to making determinations necessary to resolve this Administrative Proceeding.

It is essential to dispute resolution proceedings that fundamental due process requirements be met. Such requirements include that a respondent have notice of proceedings that may substantially affect its rights. The Policy, and the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Rules"), establish procedures intended to ensure that respondents are given adequate notice of proceedings commenced against them, and a reasonable opportunity to respond (see, e.g., para. 2(a), Rules). In this proceeding, Respondent filed detailed responsive pleadings. The Panel is satisfied that Respondent had adequate notice and opportunity to participate.

As a preliminary matter, the Panel notes that Complainant filed a request for leave to file a reply and reply, and Respondent thereafter filed a petition for consideration of a supplemental reply and reply. The Panel has discretion to accept supplemental pleadings (paras. 10 & 12, Rules). While the legal arguments in Respondentís Response should have been (and largely were) anticipated by Complainant, Respondent presented certain facts and legal arguments based on them that may not reasonably have been foreseen by Complainant. In light of the fact the Respondent also filed a supplemental pleading responsive to Complainantís reply, the Panel has decided to accept the supplemental pleadings of both parties.

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy sets forth three elements that must be established by a complainant to merit a finding that a respondent has engaged in abusive domain name registration and use, and to obtain relief. These elements are that:

(i) respondentís domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and

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

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

Each of the aforesaid three elements must be proved by a complainant to warrant relief.

Complainant is the holder of service mark registrations for the term "FLAMINGO" in the United States and is using that mark in commerce in connection with providing hotel and casino services (see Factual Background, supra). Complainantís registration of the "FLAMINGO" mark on the Principal Register at the USPTO establishes a presumption of its validity in U.S. law.[2] Although Respondent has contested the extent of Complainantís right to exclude third parties from use of its mark, it has not disputed that Complainant has rights in "FLAMINGO" as a service mark in its registered classes.

Complainant asserts that its mark is well known or famous in the field of hotel and casino services. Complainant has presented evidence of its heavy advertisement and promotion of its services, and of extensive consumer use of its hotel and casino services. Respondent properly suggests that a service mark holderís burden of proof in establishing the well known or famous character of a common descriptive term (that has acquired service mark distinctiveness) is greater than that for an arbitrary or coined term.[3] The Panel nonetheless concludes that Complainantís "FLAMINGO" mark is well known in the field of hotels and casinos based on demonstrated strong consumer identification of the mark with Complainantís service business, extensive advertisement of the mark, and its continuous long use in commerce.

Respondent does not contend that the domain name <flamingo.com> is not identical or confusingly similar to Complainantís mark. The mark and the name are the same, with only the addition of the .com gTLD. In the present context, addition of .com does not serve to distinguish the mark and the domain name. The Panel determines that the disputed domain name is identical to Complainantís mark.

Complainant has established the first element necessary for a finding of abusive domain name registration and use.

The second element of a claim of abusive domain name registration is that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name (Policy, para. 4(a)(ii)). The Policy enumerates several ways in which a respondent may demonstrate rights or legitimate interests:

"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 your rights or legitimate interests to the domain name for purposes of Paragraph 4(a)(ii):

(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

(ii) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or

(iii) you are making a legitimate noncommercial 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." (Policy, para. 4(c)).

Respondent advances several arguments to support a finding of rights or legitimate interests to the disputed domain name. The principal argument is that it is using the term "flamingo" in a common descriptive sense in connection with a website that furnishes information and commercial links regarding a variety of subject matters, and that the appearance and use of Complainantís "FLAMINGO" mark and related business links (of third parties) is a mere a coincidence based on an algorithm that identifies Complainantís business as the most frequent subject matter reference of that term.

The Panel does not accept Respondentís line of reasoning. If Complainantís business is in fact most commonly identified by Respondentís commercial partnerís algorithm in connection with the term "FLAMINGO", this would appear mainly to constitute strong evidence of Complainantís rights in its mark.

"Flamingo" in a descriptive sense (for a bird) may in fact have an association with "bird seed", and the term "bird seed" also appears as a link on Respondentís website. Respondent is not, however, using the disputed domain name to market or sell bird seed. Respondent is using <flamingo.com> to sell business links to a third party (Overture), that in turn is obtaining advertising revenues based on links associated principally with Complainantís business (and to a lesser extent with other businesses). Yet Complainant has not authorized Respondent to advertise its business for commercial purposes. Respondent is obtaining revenues from advertising Complainantís business Ė that is, using its mark in commerce -- without its consent.

Respondent places a high value on the disputed domain name because it generates substantial revenues based on the frequency with which it is entered by Internet users. The Panel finds it extremely unlikely that a large number of Internet users are entering <flamingo.com> in their browsers in search of bird seed. The value in the name lies in Complainantís mark.

Respondent further argues that because third party reservation services that are identified through its website in fact make reservations at Complainantís business, and Complainant accepts these reservations, that Complainant is implicitly consenting to Respondentís use of its mark. This argument fails to adequately distinguish between fair use of the mark and misappropriation of the mark holderís rights. Third party reservation services that identify Complainantís hotels and casinos by its name and service mark are using the mark in a fair nominative sense to identify the hotels and casinos for their customers. These third party reservation services are not identifying themselves by Complainantís name.

Respondent has failed to establish rights or legitimate interests in the mark. Complainant has established the second element necessary for a finding of abusive domain name registration and use.

Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides:

"Evidence of Registration and Use in Bad Faith. For the purposes of Paragraph 4(a)(iii), the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:

(i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have 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 your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or

(ii) you have 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 you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site 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 your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location."

Complainant has argued that Respondentís offer to sell the disputed domain name in response to its approach regarding the status of the name constitutes evidence of bad faith registration and use. In the circumstances of this proceeding, the Panel does not accept this argument. Respondent registered the disputed domain name four years prior to Complainantís approach to it, and made no offer to sell the name to Complainant or to any third party until it was approached. Although it is not inconceivable that Respondent was merely "biding its time" in anticipation of the opportunity to sell the name to the mark holder, having initially registered the name with that intention, the Panel does not consider the evidence strong enough to support such an inference.

It is clear to a majority of the Panel, however, that Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name to intentionally attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainantís mark as to the sponsorship of or affiliation of Complainant with Respondentís website. The entire Panel accepts that Respondentís current use of the disputed domain name creates a likelihood of confusion for Internet users, and that Respondent is diverting such users to its website based on that confusion for commercial gain. Internet users seeking Complainantís business by entering its well known mark in a browser find themselves at Respondentís website, where they are diverted to third party service providers for Respondentís commercial gain. The fact that a third party is effectively operating the website on behalf of Respondent, and making payments to Respondent on the basis of that use, does not insulate Respondent from the conduct of its authorized agent.

As the dissenting panelist acknowledges, paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy is framed in language different than that of paragraphs 4(b)(i)-(iii). Paragraph 4(b)(iv) states that "using" the domain name to divert Internet users (relating back to 4(b), chapeau) "shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith". The Panel is instructed that Respondentís present conduct evidences its intention for registering the name. The Panel majority considers the facts of Complainantís well known mark and Respondentís conduct to more than adequately support an inference regarding Respondentís intention on registering the disputed domain name in this proceeding. The Panel majority considers it improbable that Respondent selected the term "FLAMINGO" because it intended to host a website devoted to the beauty of birds.

The dissenting panelist is troubled by the majorityís inference of bad faith based on the acts of a third party, namely Respondentís agent with respect to the operation of its website. Yet to the majority, Respondentís action in selecting the well known name of a major Las Vegas hotel as a domain name, followed by farming out its mining to a third party, merely demonstrates that Respondent has operated its diversionary enterprise in what for it may be the most efficient manner. Is it possible that Respondent, a Cayman Islands business purchasing multiple domain names and operating multiple websites for profit said to itself in 1998, "Flamingos are beautiful birds. Letís register <flamingo.com> and later on perhaps we will think of something to associate with the name, like an on-line bird food shop"? Many things are possible, including this. However, the Panel must weigh the evidence before it and decide whether Complainantís present evidence of diversionary conduct reasonably supports an inference that Respondent registered the disputed domain name for that purpose, as the Panel is instructed by paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. The majority is satisfied that the inference is supported by the weight of the evidence before it.

The Panel determines that Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. Complainant has established the third element necessary for a finding of abusive domain name registration and use.

The Panel will direct the registrar to transfer the disputed domain name to Complainant.

 

7. Decision

Based on its finding that the Respondent, Anything.com Ltd., has engaged in abusive registration and use of the domain name <flamingo.com> within the meaning of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Panel orders that the domain name <flamingo.com> be transferred to the Complainant, Park Place Entertainment Corporation.

 


 

Frederick M. Abbott
Presiding Panelist

John R. Keys, Jr.
Panelist

Dated: September 16, 2002

 


Dissenting Opinion

I respectfully dissent. I am not persuaded that Respondentís motivation for registering the disputed domain name had anything to do with Complainant or its marks. I would therefore find that Complainant has failed to meet its burden of proving that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith, an essential element of Complainantís case under the Policy.

It is true, as the majority notes, that paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy instructs the Panel to consider certain bad faith uses of a domain name as evidence of registration and use in bad faith. As previous decisions have noted, this provision is rather perplexing, in that the Policy elsewhere provides explicitly that both bad faith registration and bad faith use must be demonstrated. See, e.g., Passion Group Inc. v. Usearch, Inc., No. AF-0250 (eResolution Aug. 8, 2000); Shirmax Retail Ltd. v. CES Marketing Group Inc., No. AF-0104 (eResolution March 20, 2000). The Panel in Passion Group resolved the apparent inconsistency thus:

"This contrasting language indicates that use of the kind described in 4(b)(iv) is to be taken as evidence of bad faith registration as well as evidence of bad faith use. But this evidence is not necessarily conclusive. Furthermore, the panel is not required to assign substantial weight to evidence of constructive bad faith registration furnished by paragraph 4(b)(iv), and the panel may have regard to other evidence in determining whether the requirements of 4(a)(iii) have been proved.

This approach accords with the Policy by enabling a finding of bad faith registration to be made where bad faith use within 4(b)(iv) is the only evidence tending to show the purpose for which the domain name was registered. Where, however, there is other relevant evidence, such as evidence that the domain name was registered for a permissible purpose, it must be weighed against any evidence of bad faith registration constituted by evidence of bad faith use within 4(b)(iv)."

Though there certainly are circumstances in which conclusions about a registrantís initial motivations can be inferred from subsequent conduct, I do not believe that such an inference is appropriate in this case. And even if the Policy is interpreted to require the Panel to draw such an inference, I believe that it is adequately rebutted by the evidence Respondent offers concerning its initial motivations, though neither of these is particularly probative. In any event, we are asked to draw an inference concerning Respondentís initial motivations not from Respondentís subsequent conduct, but from the conduct of a third party. I do not dispute the majorityís conclusion that it is appropriate to hold Respondent vicariously responsible for activities undertaken by a third party to whom it has effectively delegated partial control over the domain name, but merely its willingness to use such third party conduct as the primary or sole basis for inferences regarding Respondentís prior state of mind.

In my view Complainant has failed to sustain its burden of proving bad faith registration. I would dismiss the Complaint.

 


 

David E. Sorkin
Dissenting Panelist

Dated: September 16, 2002

 


Footnotes:

1. The Panel notes that Complainant has assigned certain of its service mark registrations to enterprises that appear to be controlled by it based on the Panelís visit to its corporate website (http://www.parkplace.com). It is preferable in these proceedings that parties clarify trademark ownership in a way that does not require independent inquiry by panels.

2. 15 USCS ß 1057(b). See, e.g., Avery Dennison v. Sumpton, 189 F.3d 868 (9th Cir. 1999).

3. See discussion, e.g., in The Dial Corporation v. Perpetual Advantage, Inc., WIPO Case No. DBIZ2002-00100.