Complainant is The Conference Board, Inc. of New York, New York, United States of America, internally represented.
Respondent is Belize Domain WHOIS Service of Belmopan, Belize.
The disputed domain name <theconferenceboard.org> is registered with Assorted, LTD.
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 25, 2010. On February 26, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to Assorted, LTD a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On March 2, 2010, Assorted, LTD transmitted by email to the Center its verification response, confirming that 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on March 3, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was March 23, 2010. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent's default on March 24, 2010.
The Center appointed Desmond J. Ryan as the sole panelist in this matter on April 6, 2010. 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 disputed domain name was created on January 26, 2006. Complainant is a not-for-profit corporation residing in New York, United States of America, which publishes economic information and analysis and promotes conferences and meetings of senior business executives from around the world. It claims to have operated for more than 90 years and to have connection with over 1,600 corporations in nearly 60 countries with more than 12,000 senior executives attending its conferences each year.
Complainant owns United States, Canadian, Mexican and International trademark registrations consisting of, or including the words THE CONFERENCE BOARD, dating from as early as 1982.
Respondent appears to be a proxy service. There is no information as to the true identity of the holder of the disputed domain name. A website at the disputed domain name is a portal site providing links to third party sites offering conference and meeting facilities and other business and social meeting services.
Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical to its registered and widely known trademark. It asserts that it has not authorised Respondent to use its mark. Complainant further asserts that use of the disputed domain name to provide links to organisations offering services similar to, and in competition with those of Complainant cannot constitute use in the bona fide offering of goods or services. In Complainant's contention, Respondent deliberately chose the disputed domain name to free ride off Complainant's goodwill and has used it for commercial gain by creating confusion with Complainant and profiting from it by the collection of “click through” commissions.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant's contentions.
Complainant has clearly demonstrated rights in the trademark THE CONFERENCE BOARD both by registration and by reputation. The disputed domain name differs from it only by the addition of the gTLD denominator, “.org”. The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name is identical to Complainant's trademark.
The disputed domain name was created long after Complainant's trademark was established and first registered. Complainant asserts that it has not authorised Respondent to use its trademark and there is no other apparent basis upon which Respondent could claim rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Respondent's use of the disputed domain name prior to notice to it of dispute was not a use in the bona fide offering of goods or services. It has frequently been held that use of a domain name in such a way as to infringe another's trademark or to profit from confusion with the trademark or reputation of another cannot be regarded as a legitimate use in the offering of goods or services, nor is it a legitimate noncommercial or fair use. See, as one of many examples, Madonna Ciccone, p/k/a Madonna v. Dan Parisi and “Madonna.com”, WIPO Case No. D2000-0847. Respondent had the opportunity to contest Complainant's contentions and demonstrate a right or legitimate interest but failed to do so.
The Panel therefore finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Complainant's evidence shows that its trademark was widely known and used at the time of creation of the disputed domain name. The words “conference board” are distinctive and do not immediately suggest the nature of the business of Respondent or the portal website operated by Respondent. It is reasonable to conclude, absent any contrary indication of information from Respondent, that the domain name was deliberately adopted with intent to use it for commercial gain to attract Internet users to a website by creating confusion with Complainant's trademark. Respondent's website is being used for precisely that purpose.
The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. That finding is not affected by the fact that Complainant did not file a Complaint, or apparently take any other action for some four years after the registration of the disputed domain name as there is nothing to indicate that Complainant acquiesced in any way with Respondent's use.
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 <theconferenceboard.org> be transferred to Complainant.
Desmond J. Ryan AM
Dated: April 15, 2010