The Complainant is Ticketmaster of the United States of America (“United States”), represented by Pattishall, McAuliffe, Newbury, Hilliard & Geraldson LLP, United States.
The Respondent is Nextnet Tech of the United States.
The disputed domain name <thaiticketmasters.com> is registered with eNom, Inc (“eNom”).
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (“Center”) on September 30, 2008. On September 30, 2008, the Center transmitted by email to eNom a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 30, 2008, eNom transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant, providing the contact information, and confirming other details of the registration. The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“Policy”), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“Rules”), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“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 17, 2008. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was November 6, 2008. A document identified as a “Response” was filed with the Center on October 25, 2008 identifying Nextnet Tech (in the caption) and an individual named Linda Smith (in the body of the document) as Respondent and stating that Respondent had no “authorized representative” in the proceeding. Linda Smith subsequently confirmed, in reply to an inquiry from the Center, that the Response was final and complete.
The Center appointed Debra J. Stanek as the sole panelist in this matter on November 11, 2008. 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.
At the Panel's request, the Center subsequently transmitted by email to Nextnet Tech and to Linda Smith a request for clarification of the relationship between Linda Smith and Nextnet Tech. In her response, Linda Smith indicated that she was a partner in Nextnet Tech and was its representative for these proceedings.
Complainant for many years has sold tickets to entertainment and other events worldwide under the name “Ticketmaster”. It owns several United States federal trademark registrations for TICKETMASTER marks, the earliest of which was issued in 1993, for its ticket-related services. Its registrations include one for the mark TICKETMASTER.COM, which issued in 2001. Complainant also uses the domain name <ticketmaster.com> for a website that offers online ticketing services.
The disputed domain name was registered in August 2007. It contains sponsored links, including links to ticketing websites.
Complainant owns numerous trademark registrations, in the United States and throughout the world, for its TICKETMASTER marks. As a result of its long use and extensive promotion, the TICKETMASTER mark has become well-known and is famous.
The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the TICKETMASTER mark because it incorporates it in its entirety. Preceding the mark with the geographic term “thai” does not alleviate the similarity.
Complainant has not licensed or permitted Respondent to use the TICKETMASTER mark in a domain name.
Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name and has not acquired any trademark or service mark rights in the name. To the best of Complainant's knowledge, Respondent has not applied for or obtained any state or federal trademark or service mark registrations for the disputed domain name.
Respondent has had constructive notice of Complainant's trademark rights since 1991, when Complainant first applied to register its TICKETMASTER mark in the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Respondent likely had actual knowledge of Complainant's trademark rights.
The disputed domain name is used with a website that offers links to Complainant's competitors, thus diverting Complainant's customers and potential customers to other sites. Such a use is not a bona fide offering of goods and services and is evidence of bad faith.
Given the fame of Complainant's mark, it is not possible to conceive of circumstances under which Respondent could legitimately use the domain name.
Complainant has presented no evidence that it conducts business in Thailand.
The domain name is a combination of the words “Thai”, “ticket”, and the plural form of “master”, which makes it clear that the domain name will be used for an online ticket-related website in Thailand, in the same fashion that the <thaiticketmaster.com> domain name is being used to redirect to <thaiticketmajor.com>. It is obvious that the singular version of this domain name was used for a ticket-related website in Thailand.
The fact that the disputed domain name has not been developed does not mean that it will not be developed in the future.
The co-founder of Respondent is a Thai doing business in the United States. She currently owns many “Thai” domain names such as <thaimovies.com>, which will be developed and used in conjunction with <thaiticketmasters.com>.
By filing the domain name dispute, the Complainant violates the right of people in Thailand to use a generic domain name just because the Complainant has a similar generic trademark.
In order to prevail, Complainant must prove, as to the disputed domain name, that:
(i) It is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which Complainant has rights;
(ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect to it;
(iii) It has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Policy, paragraph 4(a). The Policy sets out examples of circumstances that may evidence a respondent's rights or legitimate interests in a domain name, see Policy, paragraph 4(c), as well as circumstances that may evidence a respondent's bad faith registration and use, see Policy, paragraph 4(b).
Complainant has established its rights in the TICKETMASTER mark by virtue of the evidence of its United States federal trademark registrations.
The disputed domain name is not identical to Complainant's mark. Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar because it includes Complainant's entire mark. The Panel agrees that, as a general matter, a domain name is likely to be deemed confusingly similar to a mark if it incorporates the mark or a variation of the mark. The Panel also agrees that here, the addition of the geographic term “thai” before Complainant's mark and the use of the word “master” in the plural form do nothing to effectively differentiate or distinguish the disputed domain name from Complainant's mark, which remains the dominant portion of the domain name.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent's domain name is confusingly similar to a mark in which Complainant has rights.
The Panel, consistent with the consensus view, finds that Complainant may establish that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name by making a prima facie showing that respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Question 2.1 (once complainant makes prima facie case, respondent has burden of showing rights or legitimate interests in the domain name).
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy sets out the following examples:
(i) before any notice to you 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 (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 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.
The Panel finds that Complainant has made a prima facie showing as to the examples set out in Paragraph 4(c)(i)-(iii) of the Policy as to the disputed domain name.
It does not appear that Respondent engaged in or could under the circumstances have engaged in – any legitimate use of the domain name. There is no reason to believe, from the WHOIS record or otherwise, that Respondent is or could be commonly known by the domain name. It does not appear that Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name. In this regard, the Panel does not agree that domain name is “generic,” similar to <thaimovies.com>. It is true that, like <thaimovies.com>, each of its constituent parts is a term capable of a generic meaning however, unlike “thai movies” the resulting combination is not generic. This is because the juxtaposition of “ticket” with “masters” does not create another generic term, but instead virtually replicates Complainant's trademark and then precedes the mark with the geographic term “thai”.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Complainant must establish that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Policy itself sets out four sets of circumstances, evidence of which can establish bad faith, see Policy, paragraph 4(b)(i)-(iv):
(i) Registering the domain name primarily to sell it for more than documented out-of-pocket costs, see Policy, paragraph 4(b)(i).
(ii) Registering the domain name to prevent the owner of the trademark from reflecting the mark in a domain name, where there is a pattern of such conduct, see Policy, paragraph 4(b)(ii).
(iii) Registering the domain name primarily to disrupt the business of a competitor, see Policy, paragraph 4(b)(iii).
(iv) Using the domain name to intentionally attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement, see Policy, paragraph 4(b)(iv).
Complainant's rights in its marks long predate Respondent's registration and use of the disputed domain name. Complainant's rights in its marks are well-established and well-known throughout the world. Given the fame of Complainant's marks in the United States, where Respondent is located, the Panel believes that it is probable that Respondent had actual knowledge of Complainant's trademark rights at the time the domain name was registered, and so registered the domain name in bad faith.
Further, the Panel has already concluded that Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in the domain name and that use of the domain names was not in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent registered and is using 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, <thaiticketmasters.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Debra J. Stanek
Dated: November 25, 2008