WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Joyce Meyer Ministries, Inc. v. Joycemyersministries.com, c/o Whois IDentity Shield/Joyce Meyer Ministries - U.S. Headquarters
Case No. D2007-1087
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Joyce Meyer Ministries, Inc., of Fenton, Missouri, United States of America, represented by Winters, King & Associates, Inc, United States of America.
The Respondent is Joycemyersministries.com, c/o Whois IDentity Shield/Joyce Meyer Ministries - U.S. Headquarters, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <joycemyersministries.com> is registered with Nameview Inc.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 23, 2007. On July 27, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to Nameview Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On August 7, 2007, Nameview Inc. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response identifying the Complainant as the registrant and providing the contact details. On July 31, 2007, in response to a request by the Center, the Complainant confirmed that it did not have control of the disputed domain name. 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 August 9, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was August 29, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on September 2, 2007.
The Center appointed Knud Wallberg as the sole panelist in this matter on September 13, 2007. 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, Joyce Meyer Ministries, Inc., is an evangelical religious organization. The Complainant employs over 560 people at its offices in the United States of America and over 300 people in its foreign offices. Its religious television offerings are provided around the world in 27 different languages.
The Complainant holds a series of marks of the name JOYCE MEYER MINISTRIES as well as marks consisting of the name JOYCE MEYER alone. These marks are registered and used in association with the following goods and services: prerecorded audio and video tapes and cassettes, compact discs, and DVD’s in the field of religion; and religious books and magazines; religious and evangelistic services; charitable services; televisions and radio
The Complainant further promotes its activities through the website at “www.joycemeyerministries.org”.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered marks so that it could easily be mistaken for one owned or endorsed by the Complainant. The Complainant trademarked “Joyce Meyer Ministries” and operates its website, “www.joycemeyerministries.com”. The Respondent’s domain name merely drops the “e” in “Meyer” and adds an “s,” resulting in “www.joycemyersministries.com”. Even more confusing is the appearance of the Respondent’s domain name as one used for religious purposes. At first glance, the Respondent’s homepage could easily be confused for one of the Complainant’s; it displays pictures of a church’s exterior with stained-glass windows and provides various links to religious websites and products. The Respondent’s domain name even provides a link to some of the Complainant’s products.
The Respondent has not received permission to use the name and therefore has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the Complainant’s name.
The Complainant asserts that there is no evidence of the Respondent’s use of or demonstrable preparations to use the domain names or a name corresponding to the domain names in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. Instead, the domain name automatically directs in a separate window to the site at “www.searchco.com”, which contains a series of links to websites selling various goods and services presumably not associated with the Respondent. The goods and services offered at these various websites include travel rentals, health insurance, home loans, debt consolidation, spam filters, adult education, life insurance, auto insurance, etc. In addition to opening this separate window, the domain name opens its own webpage, which also contains a series of links to websites selling various goods and services presumably not associated with the Respondent. The goods and services offered at these websites include psychic readings, online Christian study degrees, radio ministries, fundraising services, wedding bands, secret shopper scam information, wedding bands, etc.
The Complainant further alleges that the Respondent has not been commonly known by the domain name, nor does it claim on the website to be or have been so known.
Also, the Respondent is not making any legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the domain name. The domain name merely directs visitors to other commercial sites. The domain name is being used to acquire visitors who are looking for the Complainant’s site and to cause the visitors to believe that the commercial sites accessed at “www.joycemyersministries.com” and “www.searchco.com” somehow benefits the Complainant or is endorsed by the Complainant.
In addition the Complainant alleges that by using the domain name, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s website or of a product or service on the Respondent’s website. In particular, the Respondent uses the domain name to direct users to a website in an additional window which advertises a variety of goods and services, such as travel rentals, health insurance, home loans, debt consolidation, spam filters, adult education, life insurance, auto insurance, etc. The Respondent also uses the domain for its own webpage to direct users to various other websites which offer psychic readings, online Christian study degrees, radio ministries, fundraising services, wedding bands, secret shopper scam information, wedding bands, etc. These items are not related to the Complainant, religious issues, religious doctrine, the clergy, etc. The only conceivable reason for using <joycemyersministries.com> as a domain name for the sale of such products would be to attract Internet users who are attempting to access the Complainant’s site.
The Complainant has previously informed the Respondent that the Respondent’s use of the domain name violates the Complainant’s trademark rights, and the Complainant has requested that the Respondent surrender the domain name to the Complainant. The Respondent has ignored these communications.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules, the Panel shall decide the Complaint in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable and on the basis of the Complaint where no Response has been submitted.
In accordance with Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that each of the three following elements is satisfied:
(i) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy states that the burden of proving that all these elements are present lies with the Complainant. At the same time, in accordance with Paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, if a party, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, does not comply with any provision of, or requirement under, the Rules or any request from the Panel, the Panel shall draw such inferences therefrom as it considers appropriate.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name <joycemyersministries.com> is virtually identical and at least confusingly similar to the trademark JOYCE MEYER MINISTRIES, and is confusingly similar to the trademark JOYCE MEYER in which the Complainant has rights.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has proved that the condition under the Rules, paragraph 4(a)(i) is fulfilled.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant alleges that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. The Respondent has not rebutted this allegation and, based on the record of this case, it is unlikely that any such rights or interests may exist.
The Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its trademark or to apply for any domain name incorporating the Complainant’s trademark.
Further, the Panel is of the opinion that the Respondent’s use of the domain name has not been in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. On the contrary, it seems clear from the design and content of the corresponding website, which inter alia appears to contain links to the Complainant as well as to other organizations or entities, which offer services of the same nature as those of the Complainant that the Respondent intentionally utilizes, without having the right to do so, the goodwill vested in the Complainant’s trademarks.
The Panel therefore finds that the requirements of the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii) are also fulfilled.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Respondent is well known evangelical religious organization and in light of the Complainant’s distinctive name and international recognition it is inconceivable to the Panel that the Respondent was not aware of the Complainant and the Complainant’s activities under the name Joyce Meyers Ministries, when it registered the contested domain name.
Further, the Panel finds that the Respondent could not have been unaware of the fact that it chose a name which could attract Internet users in a manner that creates the possibility of confusion for the consumer as to whether the site is associated with the Complainant or not.
In addition, the Panel notes the content on and functioning of the Respondent’s website, quoted under item B above. This indicates that the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion to the Complainant’s trademark, cf. the Policy paragraph 4(b)(iv).
The Panel finds that the Complainant has shown that the third condition under the Policy is fulfilled.
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 <joycemyersministries.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: September 23, 2007