WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Sports Holdings, Inc. v. Bill Edwards
Case No. D2006-1148
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Sports Holdings, Inc., of Alabama, United States of America.
The Respondent is Bill Edwards, of Texas, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <hibbett-sports.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with InnerWise, Inc. d/b/a ItsYourDomain.com.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 6, 2006. On September 12, 2006, the Center transmitted by email to InnerWise, Inc. d/b/a ItsYourDomain.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On September 13, 2006, InnerWise, Inc. d/b/a ItsYourDomain.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 October 3, 2006. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 23, 2006. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 24, 2006.
The Center appointed Thomas D. Halket as the Sole Panelist in this matter on October 27, 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
The following facts have been alleged by the Complainant and not disputed by the Respondent:
The Complainant has been continuously using the HIBBETT and HIBBETT SPORTS trademarks in connection with the operation of full line sporting goods stores since 1980 and 1994, respectively. The Complainant’s principal place of business is in Birmingham, Alabama, but the Complainant operates over six hundred stores located in twenty-three (23) U.S. states. It was granted a U.S. trademark registration for HIBBETT SPORTS on May 20, 2003. The Complainant’s official corporate website uses the domain name <hibbett.com>.
The Respondent registered the Domain Name on January 2, 2005. The only difference between the Domain Name and the Complainant’s HIBBETT SPORTS trademark is a hyphen. The Respondent’s website is a commercial search engine with direct links to competitors of the Complainant as well as links to other sports equipment sites.
The Complainant has no relationship with the Respondent and has never authorized the Respondent to use either the HIBBETT SPORTS trademark or HIBBETT trade name.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant alleges:
(a) The Domain Name is identical and confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(b) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and
(c) The Domain Name was registered and is being used by Respondent in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that the Complainant must prove each of the following: “(i) that the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and (ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and (iii) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.”
Paragraph 4(b) provides that 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 [the Respondent] 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 website 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 website or location or of a product or service on your website or location.”
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Based on the Complainant’s U.S. trademark registration for HIBBETT SPORTS and the absence of any contravening evidence from the Respondent, the Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has preexisting rights in HIBBETT SPORTS. See Uniroyal Engineered Products, Inc. v. Nauga Network Services, WIPO Case No. D2000-0503; Thaigem Global Marketing Limited v. Sanchai Aree, WIPO Case No. D2002-0358; Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano v. La casa del Latte di Bibulic Adriano, WIPO Case No. D2003-0661.
Where a Domain Name incorporates in its entirety the distinctive portion of Complainant’s trademark, the Domain Name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademark for purposes of the Policy. See Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Richard MacLeod d/b/a For Sale, WIPO Case No. D2000-0662. Thus there can be no question that the Domain Name <hibbett-sports.com> is confusing similar to HIBBETT SPORTS, the Complainant’s registered trademark. The Panel finds that the difference between the two - namely a hyphen - is insignificant.
Therefore, the Panel finds the Complainant has satisfied the first element of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant bears the burden of proof to establish a prime facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Names.
The Complainant states that the Respondent has posted direct links to competitors of the Complainant on the website and is likely generating click - through revenue by intentionally misleading consumers. The record does not provide any basis for finding that the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. Indeed, what use the Respondent seems to have made of the Domain Name is use that is evidence of bath faith use.
Therefore, the Panel finds the Complainant has satisfied the second element of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The record indicates that the Respondent’s main use of the Domain Name is for a website which redirects traffic to competitors of the Complainant. As such, the Panel finds the Respondent’s use of the Domain Name clearly violates at least paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
Therefore, the Panel finds the Complainant has satisfied the third element of the Policy.
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 Name, <hibbett-sports.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Thomas D. Halket
Dated: November 10, 2006