The Complainant is LEGO Juris A/S, Billund, Denmark, represented by Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services, Sweden.
The Respondent is Michael Longo, Highlands, New Jersey, United States of America.
The disputed domain name <legonetworks.com> is registered with Network Solutions, LLC.
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 7, 2008. On November 10, 2008, the Center transmitted by email to Network Solutions, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 10, 2008, Network Solutions, LLC transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “UDRP”), 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 November 12, 2008. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was December 2, 2008. The Respondent did not submit any Response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on December 3, 2008.
The Center appointed Anders Janson as the sole panelist in this matter on December 15, 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.
The Complainant is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Denmark. The Complainant and its licensees, The LEGO Group of Companies or the LEGO Group is, as can be read out of the Complaint and the website “www.lego.com”, a global toy manufacturing group of companies and the owner of the trademark LEGO and all other trademarks used in connection with the LEGO brand of construction toys and other LEGO branded products. The Complainant is the owner of more than 300 domain names containing the term LEGO.
The LEGO Group of Companies or the LEGO Group, through its predecessors, commenced use of the LEGO mark in the United States during 1953, to identify construction toys made and sold by them. Their use of the LEGO mark has been extensive, exclusive and continuous since 1953. Sales of LEGO construction toys in the United States alone, far exceeds USD 1 billon over the last 10 years. The Complainant has, in the Complaint, put forward a large number of national and international registrations in various classes that consist of the trademark LEGO, such as;
- United States Reg. No. 1,018,875, class 28, renew date August 25, 2015 and
- United States Reg. No. 2,245,652, class 28, renew date May 18, 2009.
The Panel notes that the registration dates of the above-mentioned registrations predate the registration of the disputed domain name by the Respondent, which was on February 18, 2008.
The Complainant contends that:
- The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or a service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
- The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name;
- The disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith; and
- That the disputed domain name <legonetworks.com> should be transferred to the Complainant.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that the Complainant must prove each of the following:
(i) that the disputed domain name registered by the Respondent 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 disputed domain name; and
(iii) that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The domain name in question is <legonetworks.com>. The Complainant holds a number of registered trademarks of the word LEGO and is the owner of more than 300 domain names containing the term LEGO. The Panel finds, as numerous panels have found before, that the Complainant has established that LEGO is a well-known trademark and that the trademark is distinctive and famous. The disputed domain name contains the Complainant's mark LEGO in its entirety, with the added suffix “networks” and the generic and functional top level domain name “.com”. In determining whether a domain name and a trademark are identical or confusingly similar, the gTLDs and ccTLDs shall be disregarded. Accordingly, the question is whether the addition of the suffix “networks” makes the disputed domain name dissimilar to the Complainant's registered trademarks or not. In several UDRP decisions, the panels have found that the fact that a domain name incorporates a complainant's registered mark may be sufficient to establish identity or confusingly similarity for the purpose of the Policy (Oki Data Americas, Inc. v. the ASD, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2001-0903 and CSC Holdings, Inc. v. Elbridge Gagne, WIPO Case No. D2003-0273).
The Panel finds it established that the trademark LEGO is well-known and that the ownership of the trademark belongs to the Complainant. The Panel further finds that the term LEGO is the distinctive part of the disputed domain name. The generic term “networks” adds little to the overall impression of the disputed domain name. Furthermore, Internet users are very likely to assume that the addition of the word “networks” to the trademark LEGO signifies a website associated with the Complainant. The Panel therefore finds that the addition of the suffix “networks” does not diminish the similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant's trademark.
The disputed domain name must therefore be considered confusingly similar to the trademark LEGO. The Panel holds that the Complainant has established the first element of the Policy, paragraph 4(a).
The Complainant has asserted that it is the fame of the trademark that has motivated the Respondent to register the domain name. The Respondent cannot claim to have been using LEGO, without being aware of the Complainant's rights to it. The Respondent's interests cannot have been legitimate. The Respondent is today redirecting the domain name to the website “www.vitalvoiceanddata.com” and not using the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. The Respondent has intentionally chosen the domain name based on a registered trademark in order to generate traffic to the web site and through this procedure generate income. The Respondent is trying to sponge off of the Complainant's trademark.
The Panel notes that the Respondent has not filed a Response. In these circumstances, when the Respondent does not have an obvious connection with the disputed domain name, and the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests the burden of proof shift to the Respondent to demonstrate that such rights or legitimate interests exist. The Respondent has not demonstrated or argued that he used or prepared to use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services or that any other rights or legitimate interests exist. Registration of a domain name in itself does not establish rights or legitimate interests for purposes of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
In conclusion, the Respondent has not presented any evidence of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel therefore holds that the Complainant has established element (ii) of the Policy paragraph 4(a).
The Complainant has asserted that LEGO is a famous trademark worldwide. There is no doubt that the Respondent was aware of the rights the Complainant has in the trademark LEGO and the value of said trademark, at the point of the registration. There is no connection between the Respondent and the Complainant. By using the domain name the Respondent is not making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use without intent for commercial gain but is misleadingly diverting consumers to another website.
Paragraph 4(b) states 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. Paragraph 4(b)(iv) states that a circumstance indicating bad faith is using a domain name to intentionally attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your website or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with 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.
Based on the evidence provided by the Complainant, the Panel finds it established that the disputed domain name is redirected to the website “www.vitalvoiceanddata.com”. This website is not operated by the Complainant. It must therefore be held that the Respondent, by these actions, is trying to mislead consumers in order to attract them to another website making them believe that the website is associated with the Complainant.
The Panel finds, with reference to the above-mentioned and the proof provided by the Complainant, that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith, hence having intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to a web-site, by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant's mark as to the source. The Panel therefore concludes that the Complainant has proven that the Respondent was acting in bad faith pursuant to Paragraph 4(b)(iv) 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, <legonetworks.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: December 29, 2008