WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
DeLong Sportswear, Inc. v. LaPorte Holdings
Case No. D2006-0126
1. The Parties
The Complainant is DeLong Sportswear, Inc., Iowa, United States of America, represented by McKee, Voorhees & Sease P.L.C., United States of America.
The Respondent is LaPorte Holdings, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <delongsportswear.com> is registered with NameKing.com.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 27, 2006. On January 31, 2006, the Center transmitted by email to NameKing.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On January 31, 2006, NameKing.com transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details for the administrative, billing, and technical contact. 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”).
In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on February 8, 2006. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was February 28, 2006. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 2, 2006.
The Center appointed Carol Anne Been as the sole panelist in this matter on March 16, 2006. 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.
4. Factual Background
a. The following facts are asserted by Complainant in the Complaint and are not disputed.
Complainant is an Iowa corporation with its principal place of business in Grinnell, Iowa, United States of America. Complainant sells sporting and athletic apparel.
Complainant owns two trademarks which include the term “DeLong.” Complainant owns federal trademark registrations for DELONG, Registration Number 1,509,268, and DELONG USA, Registration Number 1,658,286. Complainant claims use of its DELONG mark since at least as early as 1987.
In addition to its registered trademarks, Complainant operates a website using the domain name, <delong-sportswear.com>.
Respondent registered the Domain Name, < delongsportswear.com>, on October 19, 2004. The Domain Name leads to a website, which provides links to other websites, which appear to sell letterman jackets and various sports apparel.
b. No facts have been asserted by Respondent since Respondent did not submit a Response in this proceeding.
5. Parties’ Contentions
i. Domain Name Identical or Confusingly Similar to Complainant’s Mark
Complainant contends that the Domain Name is practically identical with and confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademarks, corporate name and domain name. Complainant claims to be known for its sportswear and points out that its federally registered trademarks specifically list “sportswear” in the descriptions of goods and services.
ii. Respondent’s Rights or Legitimate Interests in the Domain Name
Complainant contends that Respondent has not demonstrated any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.
iii. Domain Name Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Complainant alleges that Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith. Complainant alleges that Respondent is intentionally trying to attract, for commercial gain, internet users seeking Complainant but who do not include a hyphen between the words “delong” and “sportswear.”
Complainant contends that Respondent appears to have registered the Domain Name in bad faith by using an automated system that registers domain names based on a determination of commercial interest or perceived value without regard to whether the domain name contains the trademarks of others. Complainant submits that use of an automated system in bad faith is further evidenced by the numerous UDRP proceedings in which Respondent has been a party.
Complainant further contends that Respondent’s bad faith is also evidenced by the website, which Respondent maintains at the Domain Name. The website contains various links to sportswear companies, including competitors of Complainant.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires Complainant to prove that:
(i) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. The Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights
Complainant has established that it holds rights in its mark DELONG and uses its mark for sportswear. Respondent’s use of the mark DELONG in the Domain Name is identical to Complainant’s DELONG mark. The addition of the descriptive term “sportswear” describes Complainant’s products and is further identified with Complainant through use of the descriptive term in Complainant’s corporate name and the domain name for its website. The addition of descriptive or non-distinctive terms in a domain name does not affect a finding that the domain name is confusingly similar to a complainant’s registered trademark. See, e.g., RRI Financial, Inc. v. Ray Chen, WIPO Case No. D2001-1242 (December 11, 2001).
Thus, the Administrative Panel holds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademarks, corporate name, and domain name.
B. Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in respect of the Domain Name
Respondent has not set forth any evidence of circumstances of the type described in Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy to demonstrate rights to and any legitimate interest in the Domain Name. Complainant’s assertion that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name is unopposed.
Therefore, the Administrative Panel holds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.
C. The Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith
Paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy states that it is evidence of bad faith when the Respondent, by using the domain name, intentionally attempts to attract, for commercial gain, internet users to its web site by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark. In this case, Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name in a manner that is likely to capture consumers looking for Complainant and directs such consumers to websites of sportswear companies that compete with Complainant. Thus, absent any statement from Respondent to the contrary, the Panel may infer that Respondent cannot refute Complainant’s assertions. See, e.g., The Vanguard Group v. Lorna King, WIPO Case No. D2002-1064 (January 20, 2003).
Therefore, the Administrative Panel concludes that Respondent registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith.
For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Administrative Panel orders that the Domain Name, <delongsportswear.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Carol Anne Been
Dated: March 30, 2006