WIPO

 

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

 

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

MetaMachine, Inc. v. eDonkey Records & MP3-Zone

Case No. D2003-0420

 

1. The Parties

1.1 The Complainant is MetaMachine, Inc., New York, United States of America, represented by Sam Yagan.

1.2 The Respondents are eDonkey Records & MP3-Zone, both of Calgary, Canada. These Respondents are represented by Mr. Anthony I. DeGidio of Toledo, Ohio, United States of America.

 

2. The Domain Names and Registrars

2.1 The domain names in issue are <edonkey.com>, <edonkey-2000.com> and <overmet.com>. The disputed domain name <edonkey.com> is registered with Register.com, and <edonkey-2000.com> and <overmet.com> with eNom.

 

3. Procedural History

3.1 The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on June 2, 2003. On June 3, 2003, the Center transmitted by email to Register.com and eNom a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain names at issue. On June 3, 2003, Register.com and June 5, 2003, eNom transmitted by email to the Center their verification responses confirming that the Respondent eDonkey Records is listed as the registrant for the disputed domain name <edonkey.com> and confirming that the Respondent, MP3-Zone is listed as the Registrant for the disputed name <overmet.com> and providing the contact details for the administrative, billing, and technical contacts. On September 9, 2003, the Center confirmed through a Whois search that the Respondent, MP3-Zone is listed as the Registrant for the disputed name <edonkey-2000.com> and also confirmed the administrative, billing, and technical contacts.

3.2 The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied 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").

3.3 In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondents of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on June 17, 2003. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 7, 2003. The Response was filed with the Center on July 7, 2003. Further details of the partiesí submissions and the Panelís procedural orders is detailed in section 4 below.

3.4 The Center appointed David Perkins as the sole panelist in this matter on July 17, 2003. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with the Rules, paragraph 7.

3.5 On July 1, 2003 the Complainant submitted an amendment to the Complainant, adding the domain name <ovrenet.com> to the Complaint. However, the Respondent failed to provide details of the domain nameís registration details. By the time the details were provided to the Center and Panel, on August 19, 2003 and August 21, 2003, respectively, the domain nameís registration had expired, and was not renewed. Therefore the Panel is unable to issue a decision in regards to this domain name.

 

4. Chronology of Partiesí Submissions and Panelís Procedural Orders

4.1 The Chronology in this administrative proceeding is as follows:

June 2 / June 6, 2003:

Complaint (email / hard copy).

July 1, 2003:

Request to Supplement the Complaint.

July 4, 2003:

Objection to Request to Supplement the Complaint

July 7 / July 11, 2003:

Response (email / hard copy)

July 11 / July 14, 2003:

Supplemental Complaint (email / hard copy).

July 14 / July 21, 2003:

Response to Supplemental Complaint (email / hard copy).

August 1, 2003:

Panelís Procedural Order No.1

August 11, 2003:

Panelís Procedural Order No.2

August 19 / August 21, 2003:

Amended Complaint (email / hard copy).

August 22, 2003:

Second Amended Complaint (email / hard copy).

August 22, 2003:

Panelís Procedural Order No.3

September 16 / October 3, 2003

Second Response (email/hard copy)

October 1, 2003

Panelís Procedural Order No.4

October 9, 2003

Third Response (email)

 

5. Factual Background

5.1 The Panel believes that where there are minor shortfalls in the information it requires left by the submissions of the parties it is entitled to, and indeed should, supplement the submissions from readily available public information. To the extent that this has been necessary and possible, the Panel has done so in this proceeding.

The Complainant

5.2 The Complainant is MetaMachine, Inc., of New York, United States of America.

The Complainantís eDonkey 2000 and Overnet Software

5.3 The Complainant states that it released software under the name eDonkey 2000 in late 2000, and additional software under the name Overnet in mid 2002. Both software suites apparently enable peer-to-peer file swapping of music and movies. Internet and magazine articles exhibited to the Complaint explain that, functionally, the Complainantís edonkey software facilitates file-swapping in a way comparable to Napster, Gnutella, Kazaa and other similar networks.

5.4 Mr. Jed McCaleb, an officer of the Complaint, is referred to as the originator of both the edonkey and overnet products. A publication entitled "Slyckís Guide to Music" dated January 9, 2003, carries information relating to the level of usage of both products. This is attributed to the eDonkey website. At that time the latest version of eDonkey was recording approximately 500,000 users at any given time and Overnet some 100,000 users. The same publication on February 9, 2003, estimated that "eDonkey 2000ís population may be much closer to 1 million users." By way of comparison, the article states that at its peak in the summer of 2000 Napster reached a population of some 1.5 million users.

5.5 The Complaint states that a search on the Internet search engine Google for Overnet yields over 77,000 hits and for eDonkey over 445,000.

The Complainantís eDonkey2000.com Website

5.6 The Complainant states that it registered the <edonkey2000.com> domain name on September 2, 2000, and subsequently developed a website under that name. According to the WayBack Machine ("www.archive.org") the website was established on or by November 9, 2000.

5.7 "MetaMachine" of Brooklyn, New York is shown as the Registrant and Mr. McCaleb is shown as the Administrative and Technical Contact.

Common Law trademark rights in EDONKEY and EDONKEY2000

5.8 By virtue of the level of its usage and its notoriety amongst peer-to-peer file swapping systems, where the product is known as well by the abbreviation eDonkey as it is by the full product name of eDonkey2000, the Complainant claims to have established common law trademark rights in both marks. As to the EDONKEY mark, the Complainant points to it also being the predominant feature of the full eDonkey2000 product name. Certainly, the Internet and magazine articles annexed to the Complaint use both marks, eDonkey2000 and the eDonkey abbreviation interchangeably.

5.9 According to the news archive on the "www.edonkey2000.com" website the eDonkey2000 software was made available for testing on September 6, 2000, and first appeared in the Internet search engine Google on October 20, 2000. These statements were also made on the "www.edonkey2000.com" website on February 4, 2001, according to the WayBack Machine ("www.archive.org").

The Complainantís overnet.com Website

5.10 The <overnet.com> domain name was registered on April 20, 1996, and acquired by the Complainant from Mr. Isaiah Abrutsky on June 17, 2002. Subsequently, the Complainant established a website at that address for its Overnet software product. According to the WayBack Machine ("www.archive.org") the website was established on or by July 24, 2002.

5.11 "MetaMachine" of Brooklyn, New York is shown as the Registrant and Mr. McCaleb is shown as the Administrative and Technical Contact.

Common Law trademark rights in OVERNET

5.12 The Complainant also claims to have established common law trademark rights in the mark Overnet by virtue of the level of its usage and its notoriety amongst peer-to-peer file swapping systems. According to the news archive on the "www.overnet.com" website the Overnet software was stated to be in alpha testing on June 18, 2002, and the public beta version was launched on July 19, 2002. This latter statement was also made on the "www.overnet.com" website on July 24, 2002, according to the WayBack Machine ("www.archive.org"). The Respondent refers to an independent news release of July 21, 2002, on "www.infoanarchy.org" about the software release, but the full text of the news release makes it clear that the software release occurred prior to that date.

Mr. Jed McCaleb and MetaMachine, Inc.

5.13 As stated above, Mr. McCaleb is referred to as the originator and developer of both the eDonkey and Overnet products.

5.14 Mr. McCaleb is stated to be the Complainantís Founder and Chief Technology Officer, but the relationship between Mr. McCaleb and the Complainant was not clear in the original Complaint and was questioned by the Respondent, but this has been clarified in later submissions. The Panel notes that a clear and evidenced trail of ownership of rights in the original Complaint would have enabled the Panel to deal with this Complaint far more efficiently.

5.15 The Complainant was incorporated as a company under the laws of the State of New York on November 18, 2002. A company having the same name, MetaMachine, Inc., had been incorporated as a company in California on April 24, 2001, and was later merged into the Complainant on January 6, 2003. Copies of documents evidencing these events were annexed to the Complainantís submission of July 11, 2003 [1].

5.16 The Complainant states that Mr. McCaleb assigned to the Complainant, by means of an exhibited but apparently undated assignment agreement effective May 16, 2001, all rights, title and interest in and to a License Agreement dated May 16, 2002, between Petar Maymounkov and himself. This assignment was annexed to the Complainantís submission of July 11, 2003 [2]. The Complainant originally stated that this document transferred ownership of the eDonkey2000 software to the Complainant, but no details of the License Agreement were provided. However, responding to the Panelís Procedural Order No.1 dated August 1, 2003, the Complainant provided a second assignment agreement, dated January 8, 2003, in which Mr. Caleb clearly assigned "Trademarks", including the domain name <edonkey2000.com> and the words "eDonkey" and "eDonkey2000", together with their attributable goodwill and the eDonkey software to the Complainant. This assignment was annexed to the Complainantís submission of August 18, 2003.

5.17 Turning to the Overnet product, according to the WayBack Machine (www.archive.org) the "about us" page at the website at <overnet.com> on July 24, 2002, stated that "Overnet was created by MetaMachine". Although the Complainant did not exist on that date, the Californian company bearing the same name did and this was later merged into the Complainant. It therefore appears that the Complainant owns the rights in the OVERNET mark.

The Respondent

5.18 The Respondents are eDonkey Records & MP3-Zone, both of Calgary, Canada. The Registrant, Administrative and Technical Contact of <edonkey.com> is eDonkey Records, and the Registrant, Administrative and Technical Contacts of <overmet.com> and <edonkey-2000.com> are all MP3-Zone. Both eDonkey Records and MP3-Zone have the same and are represented by Mr. Anthony I. DeGidio of Toledo, Ohio, United States of America. The Panel has already decided in its Procedural Order No. 1 of August 1, 2003, that it is satisfied that the domain name registrants are one and the same entity and will hereafter be referred to as "Respondent".

5.19 Despite the Panelís request in its Procedural Order, neither party has given further information about the Respondentís business. However, the three domain names which hosted websites which were still active on todayís date all redirected the user to a website at music-download-world.com using the hyperlink "http://music-download-world.com/ref.asp?revshare=Music&siteid=Traffic". This indicates to the Panel that the Respondent is using the websites to profit by means of an affiliate program for Music Download World using the RevShare program of iBill ("www.ibill.com").

 

6. Parties Contentions

The Complainant

Identical or Confusingly Similar

<edonkey.com>; <edonkey-2000.com>

6.1 The Complainant says that the first of these domain names is identical to its mark EDONKEY and is confusingly similar to its mark EDONKEY2000 because its customers and business partners frequently shorten their references to the Complainant to EDONKEY. The Complainant pleads no additional grounds in relation to the second of these domain names, which differs from the Complainantís EDONKEY2000 mark merely by the addition of a hyphen.

6.2 The Complainant cites a number of cases brought under the Policy where confusing similarity has been found, including the following cases.

Goldmasters Precious Metals v. Gold Masters srl (NAF Case No. 95246)

Domain name <goldmasters.com> found to be confusingly similar to Complainantís GOLDMASTERS PRECIOUS METALS trademark.

AT&T Corp. v. Tala Alamuddin (WIPO Case No. D2000-0249)

Domain name <att2000.com> found to be confusingly similar to Complainantís ATT mark.

PG&E Corporation v Samual Anderson and PGE in the year 2000 (WIPO Case No. D2000-1264)

Domain names including <pge2000.com> found to be confusingly similar to Complainantís PG&E trademark.

ISL Marketing AG, and the Federation Internationale de Football Association v. J.Y. Chung, Worldcup2002.com, W Co., and Worldcup 2002 (WIPO Case No. D2000-0034)

Domain names including <worldcup2002.com> found to be confusingly similar to Complainantís WORLD CUP trademark.

6.3 The Complainant also exhibits an email received by the Complainant from a customer who attempted to purchase eDonkey software from the Respondentís website.

<overmet.com>

6.4 The Complainant says that the domain name is a typographical mis-spelling of "overnet". The Complainant cites the following case brought under the Policy where confusing similarity was found and which in turn cites a number of other similar cases.

OfficeMax, Inc. and OMX, Inc. v. Yong Li (WIPO Case No. D2003-0060)

Domain name iffixemax.com found to be confusingly similar to Complainantís OFFICEMAX trademarks.

Rights and Legitimate Interests

6.5 The Complainant's case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain names in issue for the following reasons:

- There is no relationship between the Complainant and the Respondent which might lead to any license permission or authorization to incorporate the Complainantís marks in the domain names at issue.

- The Respondent has not used the domain names for any bona fide offering of goods or services. The Respondent has never carried out any business or activity under the names Overmet or eDonkey. The Complainant claims that the Respondent has in the past made significant use of the Complainantís names, marks and images on the websites linked to the domain names. The Respondent currently links the websites to third party sites in a manner which appears to the Panel to be an affiliate scheme, from which the Respondent may derive some commercial benefit. With two of the domain names the Respondent has exploited typographical errors. In other words, the domain names are visually the same as the Complainant's marks, save for minor mis-spellings to take advantage of typing mistakes by web users who are wrongly directed to the Respondent's website. This unfair use of the Complainant's marks with intent to misleadingly divert consumers for commercial gain.

Consequently, the Respondent cannot fulfill any of the circumstances set out in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy as determinative of rights or legitimate interests.

Registered and Used in Bad Faith

6.6 Here, the Complainant's case is as follows:

The Respondent must have known of the Complainantís marks at the time of registration, given the widespread and extensive use of the marks on the Internet and the fact that the Respondent used the domain names initially to sell unauthorized copies of the Complainantís software and then later to redirect to MP3 University, a website competing with the Complainant.

The Complainant contacted the Respondent to complain about the use of the domain names on November 19, 2002, but the Respondent failed to respond and later changed the use of the domain names as described above. The failure to respond is itself evidence of bad faith.

The Respondent is redirecting Internet users to the website of a competitor of the Complainant, creating the likelihood of confusion with the Complainantís marks as to source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of that website.

The Respondent has engaged in "typosquatting".

The Respondent has engaged in a pattern of abusive registrations.

The Respondent

6.7 Before proceeding to the issues raised by the Complaint, the Respondent raises a number of criticisms of the Complaint for lacking evidence. The Respondent also states that the Complainantís activities are illegal as the Complainantís software amounts to a contributory and vicarious infringement of US copyright law and also a conspiracy to distribute sexually explicit images of children and bestiality. The Respondent also raises the following contentions related to the terms of the Complaint.

Identical or Confusingly Similar

6.8 The Respondent claims that the Complainant has not proved any rights to the marks claimed nor that it made first use of them before the Respondent. The Respondent also claims that such rights would not be enforced due to their illegality.

Rights and Legitimate Interests

6.9 The Respondent claims that the Complainantís claims lack evidence and that the Respondent made first use and/or has used the names uncontested for years.

Registered and Used in Bad Faith

6.10 The Respondent claims that the Complainant has not shown bad faith at time of registration. Moreover, in relation to the cease and desist letter, Respondent states that it was clear that any reply would be a waste of time.

Reverse Domain Name Hijacking

6.11 The Respondent claims that the Complainantís lack of evidence, delay, false filings and failure to provide annexes are evidence that this is a case of reverse domain name hijacking.

 

7. Discussion and Findings

7.1 The Policy paragraph 4(a) provides that the Complainant must prove each of the following in order to succeed in an administrative proceeding:

• that the Respondentís domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and

• that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and

• that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

7.2 The Policy paragraph 4(c) sets out circumstances which, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be proved, shall demonstrate the Respondentís rights or legitimate interest in the domain name in issue.

7.3 The Policy paragraph 4(b) sets out circumstances which, again in particular but without limitation, if found the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith.

7.4 As stated, the circumstances set out in paragraph 4b and 4c of the Policy are not exclusionary. They are without limitation. That is, the Policy expressly recognises that other circumstances can be evidence relevant the requirements of paragraphs 4(a)(ii) and (iii) of the Policy.

7.5 In relation to the claims of the illegality of the Complainantís operations, the Panel notes that the Respondentís allegations should be dealt with, if necessary, by the relevant courts and not by the Panel. Although it is possible that cases may arise where Complainant conduct will prevent a Panel from finding in its favour, this is not such a case.

Identical or Confusingly Similar

7.6 The Complainant has been using the eDonkey2000 name since September 2000, and the Overnet name since May 2002. The Respondent challenges the Complainantís assertion that it had first use of the names for lack of evidence but does not provide any details of its own use, claiming that he cannot provide any evidence as he does not recall the exact date he obtained <edonkey.com>.

7.7 On the evidence provided by the parties, in the Panel's view the Complainant has common law trademark rights in the words eDonkey2000 and Overnet. The evidence also demonstrates that the names eDonkey2000 and eDonkey are used interchangeably on the Internet and therefore the Complainant has also demonstrated common law trademark rights in the work ĎeDonkeyí.

7.8 One of the domain names is a mis-spelling of the OVERNET mark, and the other two are identical to EDONKEY and EDONKEY2000, in the latter case with the addition of a hyphen. The Respondent has not suggested that any of the minor differences in the spelling domain names are significant. They are therefore to all intents and purposes identical with the relevant marks.

7.9 The Complaint, therefore, meets the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

Rights or Legitimate Interests

7.10 The Respondent claims that it has rights because the Complainant has delayed in bringing these administrative proceedings and also, as described above, challenges the Complainantís assertion that it had first use of the names for lack of evidence. However, the Respondent does not provide any details of its own use, claiming that he cannot provide any evidence as he does not recall the exact date he obtained <edonkey.com>. Similarly, the Respondent does not provide any details of its own use to rebut the Complainantís claims. Accordingly, the Complainant succeeds in establishing the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

Registered and Used in Bad Faith

7.11 The Complainant has enumerated various examples of bad faith usage and the Respondent has not substantively challenged these assertions. The Panel also notes that use of domain names solely to redirect consumers as part of an affiliate program for an unconnected website, in this case "www.music-download-world.com", will in most cases constitute bad faith. The Panel therefore finds that the Complaint meets the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy as regards use in bad faith.

7.12 However, the Policy also requires that registration was made in bad faith by the Respondent. This must be considered separately for each domain name.

edonkey.com; edonkey-2000.com

7.13 The Complainantís public use of EDONKEY2000 dates back to at least September 2000, although there is no need to determine the exact date in the context of this proceeding.

7.14 The <edonkey.com> domain name was first registered on March 23, 1999. The Complainant claims, and the Respondent does not deny, that the Respondent was not the original owner. In its first Response the Respondent merely stated that the Complainant had offered no evidence that it began using the EDONKEY2000 mark before the Respondentís ownership of the <edonkey.com> domain name. The Complainant then stated that it did not know the exact date of transfer to the Respondent but noted that the Respondent has failed to provide evidence on this point. Although the date when the Respondent acquired the <edonkey.com> domain name must be within the knowledge of the Respondent, in its Response to the Supplemental Complaint the Respondent merely took the position that the burden of proof lay on the Complainant to prove the point. Then, when the Panel stated in Procedural Order No.1 that neither party had provided an adequate factual background, in the Second Response the Respondent merely said that it "cannot submit any evidence on this issue as he does not recall the exact date he obtained edonkey.com". Given that bona fide acquisition of the domain name was put in issue by the Complainant, the burden of proof must lie with the Respondent to satisfy the Panel on that issue. For instance, if the Respondent had acquired <edonkey.com> before the Complainantís first use of the EDONKEY2000 mark, then proof of such acquisition would have constituted convincing evidence of the Respondentís bona fides. It is, however, simply not convincing for the Respondent to assert that it is a good faith registrant without at the very least providing an approximate date of transfer and initial use of the domain name, given that these facts must be within its own knowledge and do not appear to be determinable by the Complainant. In the light of this, on the balance of probabilities the Panel finds that the Respondent acquired the domain name <edonkey.com> in bad faith.

7.15 As for the <edonkey-2000.com> domain name, this was first registered on March 19, 2002. This clearly postdates the Complainantís use of the EDONKEY2000 mark and was in bad faith.

7.16 For these reasons, the Panel finds that the Complaint meets the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy in relation to the domain names <edonkey.com> and <edonkey-2000.com>.

overmet.com

7.17 The Complainantís public use of OVERNET dates back to at least June 18, 2002, and the public beta version of the Overnet software was released on July 19,2002. The domain name <overmet.com> was first registered on July 21, 2002. In the Panelís view, the timing and format of this registration and its subsequent usage make it clear that the registration was made in bad faith.

7.18 For these reasons, the Panel finds that the Complaint also meets the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy in relation to this domain name.

Reverse Domain Name Hijacking

7.19 For the reasons above, and in particular the Respondentís bad faith use of the domain names in dispute, the Panel finds the Respondentís claim of reverse domain name hijacking not made out.

 

8. Decision

8.1 For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with Paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the domain names <edonkey.com>, <edonkey-2000.com> and <overmet.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

 


 

David Perkins
Sole Panelist

Dated: October 14, 2003


Footnotes:

1. The Respondent claims not to have received these annexes in its submissions of July 14, 2003, and September 6, 2003. This is contrary to Rule 2(h)(iii), which requires that any communication by a Party be copied to the other Party. However, the Panel finds that this has not deprived the Respondent of a fair opportunity to present its case under Rule 10(b), as the annexes do not add substantive material which was not referred to in the submission itself. Moreover, the annexes were forwarded to the Respondent by the Center on October 2, 2003, and the Respondent provided the Panel with a further supplemental filing on October 8, 2003, commenting on the annexes.

2. As above.