WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Genlyte Thomas Group LLC v. Domain Drop S.A.
Case No. D2006-1223
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Genlyte Thomas Group LLC, Louisville, Kentucky, United States of America, represented by Middleton Reutlinger, United States of America.
The Respondent is Domain Drop S.A., Charlestown, West Indies, Saint Kitts and Nevis.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <hadcolighting.org> is registered with BelgiumDomains, LLC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 21, 2006. On September 25, 2006, the Center requested information by email from directNIC.com, former registrar about the domain name. Around that time, it appears that the domain name was deleted, then registered by an entity called Rubalier - CVX and finally, a few days later, registered by and/or transferred to the Respondent. On October 12, 2006, the Center transmitted to BelgiumDomains, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On October 12, 2006, BelgiumDomains, LLC transmitted by email to the Center its verification response stating the name of the Respondent listed as the registrant and providing the contact details for the administrative, billing, and technical contact. In response to a notification by the Center that the Complaint was administratively deficient, the Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on October 13, 2006. The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to 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 18, 2006. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was November 7, 2006. A third party or former owner – cvx conts – sent an e-mail on October 18, 2006, to a former Registrar stating its willingness to transfer the disputed domain name to the Complainant. The Center notified this third party of the Complaint and suggested that it make contact with the Complainant. Neither the Respondent nor the third party submited any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 8, 2006.
The Center appointed Christian Pirker as the Sole Panelist in this matter on November 15, 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 Complainant is Genlyte Thomas, a large lighting company in North America. The major brand of the Complainant is HADCO, which trademark is used for over fifty years.
The Complainant has registered trademarks containing the term HADCO, including:
- American Trademark HADCO No. 2 494 428 in connection with electric lighting fixtures
- Canadian Trademark HADCO No. TMA569,655 mainly for outdoor lighting
The Complainant has also registered numerous domain names containing the word “hadco” to represent the company and offer its products on the Internet, including:
- <hadcolighting.com> registered on July 17, 1996
- <hadco.com> registered on April 24, 2005
The Respondent is located in Saint Kitts and Nevis.
The disputed domain name <hadcolighting.org> was registered in October 10, 2006 and is used as a web directory which contains links and advertisement for various websites related to lighting products.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant alleges that the disputed domain name is identical to the trademark HADCO and to the different domain names owned and used by the Complainant. The Complainant further alleges that the Respondent has no prior rights and/or legitimate interests to justify the use of its trademark. The Complainant has never licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its trademark or to register any domain name incorporating the above-mentioned trademark. Further, the Complainant declares that there is no relationship between the parties. Consequently, the Complainant contends that the absence of any permission and the connection between the choice of the domain name and the Respondent’s website proves that the Respondent has neither rights nor legitimate interest in respect of the domain name. Finally, the Complainant alleges that the Respondent was undoubtedly aware at the time of the registration of the litigious domain name of the existence of the HADCO trademarks and the domain names. the Complainant states that the Respondent obviously registered its domain name in order to take advantage from the Complainant’s notoriety. Moreover, the Complainant alleges that the Respondent is currently acting in bad faith as it is using the domain name to offer the same type of products as those offered by the Complainant but – again - in order to take benefit from the Complainant’s notoriety. Accordingly, the Complainant states that there should be no doubt that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. Finally, the Complainant notes that the Respondent has already been involved in a claim related to registering and using domain names in bad faith.
Accordingly, the Complainant contends that the Respondent has registered a domain name that is confusingly similar to the trademarks registered and used by it, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name at issue, and that the Respondent has registered this domain name in bad faith.
As noted above, the Respondent is in default pursuant to paragraphs 5(e) and 14 of the Rules, and paragraph 7(c) of the Supplemental Rules, as no Response was submitted in due time.
Under paragraphs 5(e) and 14(a) of the Rules, the effect of a default by the Respondent is that the Panel shall proceed to a decision on the Complaint. Under paragraph 14(b), the Panel is empowered to draw such inferences from Respondent’s default as it considers appropriate under the circumstances.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs the Panel to:
“decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable”.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy states that the Complainant must prove that each of the three following elements are present:
(i) that the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant have rights; and
(ii) that the Respondent has no rights nor legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The HADCO trademarks are registered in United States of America and Canada, mainly for lighting products.
The HADCO trademark in its entirety is included in the disputed domain name. Accordingly, the distinctive part of the disputed domain name is the term “hadco” and the term “lighting” is descriptive. Domain names that combine a descriptive term with another’s trademark have been held to be confusingly similar to the trademark (see, e.g., AT&T Corp. v. WorldclassMedia.com, WIPO Case No. D2000-0553; Scholastic Inc. v. 366 Publications, WIPO Case No. D2000-1627). It further appears to the Panel that adding the term “lighting” to the distinctive part of the trademark increases the likelihood of confusion. Consistent with these and other decisions, the Panel has no hesitation in concluding that the domain name is essentially identical to the trademark and certainly confusingly similar to it.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
According to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy a Respondent can establish its rights or legitimate interests in its Domain Name if it shows the presence of any of the following circumstances:
“(i) before any notice to you [Respondent] 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 [Respondent] (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 [Respondent] 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.”
It is for the Complainant to demonstrate its prima facie case. Provided that the Complainant is successful in demonstrating its prima facie case, it is for the Respondent to demonstrate its rights or legitimate interests.
The Complainant alleges that the Respondent has no connection whatsoever with it and that the Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in the domain name.
Taking into consideration the fact that this element consists of furnishing evidence of the non-existence of a material fact, the Panel considers that the Complainant has fulfilled its obligations under this paragraph.
As stated above, the Respondent failed to respond to the Complaint. The Panel will therefore draw such inferences as it considers appropriate under the circumstances (paragraphs 5(e) and 14 (a) of the Rules).
The Respondent has not challenged the Complainant’s contention. The Panel finds it credible.
Moreover, there is no evidence in the file that the Respondent has any right or legitimate interest in the domain name.
Accordingly, the Panel considers that the Respondent does not have any right or legitimate interest in the domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The third element to be established by the Complainant is that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(b) of the policy states the following four (non-exclusive) circumstances which, if found to be present, are deemed to provide evidence of bad faith in registering and using the domain name.
“(i) circumstances indicating that you [Respondent] have registered or you [Respondent] 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 [Respondent] 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 [Respondent] have registered the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the Domain Name, you [Respondent] 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 your location.”
The domain name must not only be registered in bad faith, but it must also be used in bad faith (e.g., World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. v. Michael Bosman, WIPO Case No. D1999-0001).
The Panel notes that some panelists in default cases have accepted credible allegations from a complainant as true, particularly under paragraphs 4(a)(ii) and 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, e.g., Luis Cobos v. West, North (Nick Handle: JNMTOKTCQD), WIPO Case No. D2004-0182; Microsoft Corporation v. Andrey Tumakov, WIPO Case No. D2002-1039; Plymouth State College v. Domains, Best Domains, WIPO Case No. D2002-0939.
The Complainant’s allegations in this case that the disputed domain name has been registered and is used in bad faith could be accepted as true. That being said, the Panel makes these findings based on the following.
The Panel considers that the evidence submitted establishes that the choice of the domain name by the Respondent could hardly be a coincidence. Adding the term “lighting” to the Complainant’s trademark indicates Respondent’s purposeful choice of a domain name that is confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademarks and domain names to attract Complainant’s customers. Further, the disputed domain name reverts to a website directory of links for the same field as the Complainant. Accordingly, the Panel considers that the disputed domain name is used as a “click-through” revenue generating site which provides income to the Respondent by inducing Internet users to click through sponsored links. It is the Panel’s opinion that the intention behind the Respondent’s use of a domain name containing the Complainant’s trademark is merely to capture the Complainant’s customers who are seeking the Complainant’s services, and to re-direct them to other websites. Such use of domain is neither legitimate, nor in good faith. Using a domain name to intentionally attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to a website by creating confusion with a complainant’s mark is evidence of bad faith registration under the paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Polica, e.g., Compagnie Générale des Etablissements Michelin CGEM - Michelin & Cie, Michelin Recherche et Technique S.A. v. Horoshiy Inc., WIPO Case No. D2004-0752.
Further, the Panel finds that the circumstances in this case lead to the conclusion of bad faith use for the following reasons:
- The disputed domain name leads customers or potential customers of the “hadco” products to believe that they will find, on the Respondent’s Internet website, Complainant’s products or services.
- The Respondent’s use of the domain name has no relation to the Complainant’s activities except for misleading and diverting potential customers of the Complainants to the Respondent’s website or related website.
- The Respondent did not actively participate in the proceedings.
As a result, the Panel holds that both elements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy have been met. The Panel thus concludes that the Complainant has established that the Respondent registered and used the disputed 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 Panel orders that the domain name <hadcolighting.org> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: November 29, 2006