The Complainant is Crown Trophy, Inc. of New York, United States of America, represented by Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, PC, United States of America.
The Respondent is PrivacyProtect.org / Pluto Domain Services Private Limited of Moergestel, The Netherlands / Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.
The disputed domain name <crowntrophies.com> is registered with Lead Networks Domains Pvt. Ltd.
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 16, 2009. On January 19, 2009, the Center transmitted by email to Lead Networks Domains Pvt. Ltd. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 23, 2009, Lead Networks Domains Pvt. Ltd. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on January 23, 2009 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on January 28, 2009. The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended 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 February 3, 2009. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was February 23, 2009. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on February 24, 2009.
The Center appointed Gerd F. Kunze as the sole panelist in this matter on March 9, 2009. 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 uses the trademark CROWN TROPHY in connection with its award products business in the United States. It sells in over 140 own and franchised retail stores awards, such as trophies, medals and ribbons. It owns an incontestable United States registration of the trademark CROWN TROPHY, dated November 8, 1987, for “retail store services in the field of awards – namely the retail sale of trophies, medals, placques, ribbons and desk sets of all kinds” in class 42. It also has an Internet presence for its mark under the website “www.crowntrophy.com”.
The Respondent registered on August 4, 2002 the domain name <crowntrophies.com>. It uses the domain name for a “click-through” website, which displays different kinds of sponsored links to websites of entities not related to the Complainant. As documented by the Complainant by copies of the respective websites, the website of the Respondent in the past displayed links for trophy and award-related sites that offered trophies, awards and other recognition products and services in competition with the Complainant.
The Complainant submits that it has developed a high recognition and reputation of its business under the trademark CROWN TROPHY and that as a result of its widespread and extensive use of the mark in connection with its business, its significant investments and expenditures devoted to promoting its trademark, it has become well-known in the United States and is uniquely associated in the public mind with the products and services of the Complainant and its franchised stores.
The Complainant furthermore submits that the Respondent is a serial cyber squatter who has been named as a respondent in at least sixteen domain name dispute cases with WIPO or the National Arbitration Forum in 2008. In all of these proceedings, of which a list is added to the Complaint, the panel ordered that the disputed domain name be transferred from the Respondent to the Complainant.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions. He has therefore not contested the allegations of the Complainant and the Panel shall decide on the basis of the Complainant's submissions, and all the inferences that can reasonably be drawn there from (Rules, paragraph 14(b)).
The domain name <crowntrophies.com> consists of a combination of the term CROWN, which is distinctive for the products and services offered by the Complainant, and the plural form of the descriptive part TROPHY of the Complainant's trademark CROWN TROPHY. Taking into account that the domain name of the Respondent incorporates the distinctive part CROWN and that one of the main categories of the products offered under the trademark CROWN TROPHY are trophies, the mere use of the plural form “trophies” in the domain name of the Respondent cannot exclude confusion of consumers, who will in view of the similarity of the domain name <crowntrophies.com> with the trademark CROWN TROPHY believe that this domain name refers to the Complainant (the gTLD “.com” need not be taken into consideration when judging confusing similarity).
For the products and services concerned, the part CROWN of the Respondent's domain name is not a descriptive term, in which the Respondent might have a legitimate interest. It is identical with the distinctive part of the Complainant's trademark CROWN TROPHY. The Respondent has no connection or affiliation with the Complainant, who has not consented to the Respondent's use of the domain name.
Furthermore, none of the circumstances listed under paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, possibly demonstrating rights or legitimate interests, are given. The Respondent does not use the domain name for its own legitimate commercial or non-commercial activities, if any, and it has not demonstrated any preparations for such use. Finally, for the same reason that the Respondent does not promote its own commercial activities with the help of this domain name, the Respondent has not been able to become commonly known under it.
In the absence of any submission of the Respondent, the Panel therefore concludes that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name <crowntrophies.com>.
The Respondent was no doubt aware of the Complainant's trademark CROWN TROPHY when it registered its confusingly similar domain name <crowntrophies.com>. In the absence of any submission of the Respondent, this is the only explanation for the use of the distinctive part CROWN in combination with the plural form of the part TROPHY of that trademark, the more as the Respondent is a known cyber squatter (above 5a). The Respondent has not offered the domain name to the Complainant for sale and it does not use it for its own commercial or non-commercial activity. However, it does not simply stockpile the domain name. It uses it for a “click-through” website, which is set up to provide “click-through” revenue for the Respondent.
Internet users, seeking the products or services of the Complainant, and being aware that the Complainant sells under his trademark CROWN TROPHY trophies and offers services related to trophies, are likely to misspell the Complainant's domain name <crowntrophy.com> into <crowntrophies.com> in an attempt to type the Complainant's domain name into a web browser in order to locate these products or services. Such users will be diverted to the webpage of the Respondent where amongst others until recently trophies and other awards of competitors of the Complainant were offered.
Under the circumstances, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract Internet users to his website, for commercial gain, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant's trademark CROWN TROPHY as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the Respondent's website.
By registering its domain name, the Respondent has also prevented the Complainant from registering that domain name, which is the plural form of its trademark, in its own name and committed a typical case of “typosquatting”. Taking into account that the Respondent showed a similar behaviour of misspelling trademarks in many of the cases referred to under 5a) (such as <tntcarports.com> instead of “T-N-T Carports”, <delolitte.com> instead of “Deloitte”, <eletrolux.com> instead of “Electrolux”, <gocomapre.com> instead of “Gocompare”, and <newcastlepermanet.com> instead of “Newcastle Permanent”) this is a further indication of registration and use of the domain name in bad faith.
In conclusion the Respondent has registered and is using the domain name <crowntrophies.com> 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 <crowntrophies.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Gerd F. Kunze
Dated: March 19, 2009