World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

The California Milk Processor Board v. John Wang

Case No. D2011-1731

1. The Parties

The Complainant is The California Milk Processor Board of San Clemente, California, United States of America, represented by Sipara, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Respondent is John Wang of Mountain View, California, United States of America.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <gotmilk.biz> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with GoDaddy.com, Inc.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 12, 2011. On October 13, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to GoDaddy.com, Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On October 13, 2011, GoDaddy.com, Inc. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact for the Domain Name.

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 October 20, 2011. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 11, 2011. However, due to an administrative oversight in failing to use an email address listed on the web site at the Domain Name in the Notification of the Complaint, the Center, in accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), extended the due date for a Response to November 19, 2011. On November 22, 2011, the Center having received no Response, notified the Parties that it would be proceeding to Panel Appointment.

The Center appointed Michelle Brownlee as the sole panelist in this matter on December 2, 2011. 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 owns United States Trademark Registration Number 3730703 for the mark GOT MILK? (stylized) in connection with a variety of goods in International Classes 6, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 30, including magnets, flashlights, pens, bumper stickers, tote bags, umbrellas, mugs and cups, lunch boxes, clothing and food items. The Complainant also owns European Community Trade Mark Registration Number 8527178 for GOT MILK? for an even broader range of goods in the same classes that are covered by the United States Trademark Registration. The Complainant also owns registrations for these marks in several other countries, including India and several countries in Africa.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant began using the tagline “Got Milk?” in advertising to promote the consumption of cow’s milk in 1993. This advertising was named one of the ten best advertisements of all time in a <usatoday.com> poll. In 2005, <taglineguru.com> named GOT MILK? as the most culturally influential tagline since the advent of broadcast television. Recent advertising campaigns including the slogan have featured high profile celebrities such as David Beckham, Beyoncé Knowles and Britney Spears. The Complainant operates a web site at the domain <gotmilk.com>. This web site receives more than 1.8 million page views annually.

The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is identical to its GOT MILK? trademark, since the question mark is a symbol that cannot be incorporated into a domain name. The Complainant argues that the Respondent has no rights to or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name, as the Domain Name is used simply for a parking page where the Respondent presumably gets revenue for click-throughs to the links listed on the page. Finally, the Complainant submits that the Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith. The Complainant argues that its mark is so well known that the Respondent must have been aware of it when choosing to register the Domain Name.

The Domain Name was registered on February 12, 2004.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy provides that in order to be entitled to a transfer of a domain name, a complainant must prove the following three elements:

(1) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and

(2) the respondent has no rights to or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and

(3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant has demonstrated that it owns rights in the trademark GOT MILK?. The second level of the Domain Name is identical to the trademark except for the question mark, which is a symbol that cannot be included in a domain name. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides that a respondent can demonstrate rights to or legitimate interests in a domain name by demonstrating one of the following facts:

(i) before receiving any notice of the dispute, the respondent used or made demonstrable preparations to use the domain name at issue in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or

(ii) the respondent has been commonly known by the domain name; or

(iii) the respondent is 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 at issue.

In this case, the Respondent has not presented evidence that the Respondent used or made demonstrable preparations to use the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, that the Respondent is commonly known by the Domain Name or that the Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Name, or in any other way refuted the Complainant’s prima facie case. The Complainant has presented evidence, which was not refuted by the Respondent, that the Respondent is using the Domain Name to provide links to web sites in order to collect click-through referral fees. This activity cannot under the circumstances be considered a bona fide offering of goods or services. See, e.g., PRL USA Holdings, Inc. v. LucasCobb, WIPO Case No. D2006-0162. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent does not have any rights to or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy states that the following circumstances are evidence of registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:

“(i) circumstances indicating that the respondent has registered or acquired the domain name at issue primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or

(ii) the respondent registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that the respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) the respondent has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) by using the domain name, the respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its web site or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of its web site or location or of a product or service on its web site or location.”

The Complainant has established bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. The Panel finds that the Complainant’s trademark is well-known within the United States, and the Respondent therefore would very likely have been aware of this trademark and the confusion that would be likely to result from the use of the Domain Name. The Respondent’s use of the Domain Name to earn referral fees by linking to other web sites attracts Internet users to the web site at the Domain Name by creating confusion as to source and results in commercial gain to the Respondent.

7. Decision

For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <gotmilk.biz> be transferred to the Complainant.

Michelle Brownlee
Sole Panelist
Dated: December 15, 2011

 

Explore WIPO