WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
The American Automobile Association, Inc. v. RadsheeyLonalasho
Case No. D2012-1888
Complainant is The American Automobile Association, Inc. of Florida, United States of America represented by Covington & Burling, United States of America.
Respondent is RadsheeyLonalasho of Chiangrai, Thailand.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <aaalife-insurance.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 21, 2012. On September 21, 2012, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On September 25, 2012, the Registrar 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 September 26, 2012. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 16, 2012. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on October 17, 2012.
The Center appointed Clive L. Elliott as the sole panelist in this matter on October 29, 2012. 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
Complainant is a corporation organized under the laws of Connecticut, United States, and is active in the insurance security industry.
The Domain Name was registered with the Registrar on February 13, 2012.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant states that it has the exclusive ownership of U.S. federal trademark registrations and common law rights in the United States in its AAA and associated trademarks (collectively the “AAA Marks” or “Marks”), as well as international trademark registrations (the “AAA's U.S. registrations”, “AAA Marks”) and state and common law rights to the AAA Marks.
Complainant asserts that it has used its AAA Marks in commerce, in connection with a broad variety of goods and services, including insurance, automotive, financial, travel, and discount goods and services, since at least 1902 and is well known by the public for insurance services, including life, automobile, home, and travel insurance, and placing insurance with underwriters.
Complainant contends that these Marks are valuable and famous in the US and abroad as a result of its history and experience in providing high quality products and services, as well as it and its member clubs’ continuous and extensive advertising, promotion, and sales of such products and services under the AAA Marks.
Complainant contends that in or around May 2012, it learned that Respondent was using the Domain Name to host a purported blog that made prominent use of the AAA Marks in its title “AAA Life Insurance” and claimed that it provided users with “everything you need to know about AAA Life Insurance.” Complainant suggests that Respondent’s purported blog hosted on the website is a sham, as the site included only two “blog” entries, made two months apart, and one of which does not make grammatical sense. Complainant claims that in addition, the “contact us” portion of the blog included no identifying information about the purported blogger, yet invited readers to contact the blogger “about the products that are mentioned.” Complainant asserts that Respondent is neither authorized to use the AAA marks, nor authorized to provide information about AAA Life Insurance products.
Complainant suggests that the purpose of the Domain Name appears to be to profit from an apparent association with Complainant while masking the associated website as a purported blog. Complainant states that as recently as July, Respondent’s website contained pay-per-click advertising links for goods and services that compete with those offered by Complainant, however notes that Respondent has since removed the pay-per-click advertising links.
Complainant claims that Respondent is also the registrant for other domain names that resolve to purported blogs with similar nonsensical postings and similar tag lines informing users that the website will provide everything that they need to know about the subject of the domain name.
Complainant states that on May 10, 2012, it sent Respondent a cease and desist letter to the email and postal addresses listed on the WhoIs records for the Domain Name regarding Respondent’s unauthorized use of the AAA Marks in the Domain Name and corresponding website. When no response was received from Respondent, Complainant advises it sent a second letter on June 29, 2012. Complainant contends that it received no response from Respondent to that second letter and in the meantime the Domain Name website continued to direct users to a purported blog that made further unauthorized use of the AAA Marks.
Complainant asserts that the Domain Name is identical to its AAA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY Mark, with exception of the addition of a hyphen and exclusion of the term “company” and in addition, the Domain Name is confusingly similar to its “AAA” Mark in that it includes the entire “AAA” Mark, with the addition of the generic terms “life” and “insurance”. Complainant further asserts that by adding the generic terms “life” and “insurance” to Complainant’s “AAA” Mark heightens the likelihood of consumer confusion because Complainant is well known for providing life and other insurance to its members and the public.
Complainant states that Respondent has neither a legitimate interest in the Domain Name nor any legal right to use the name because Complainant has established its rights to the AAA Marks and has not licensed or authorized Respondent to use the Marks in connection with its business or as part of the Domain Name. Further, Complainant contents that there is no evidence that Respondent is commonly known by the Domain Name and the Respondent did not register the Domain Name under a name containing the AAA Marks but rather, the Domain Name is registered to RadsheeyLonalasho, who has no affiliation or association with Complainant.
Complainant claims that further evidence that Respondent does not have rights or a legitimate interest in the Domain Name is borne out by the fact that the Respondent’s “contact us” link on the Domain Name website contains no identifying information. Complainant claims further that Respondent is not using the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services or for a legitimate noncommercial or fair use and instead, Respondent is using the Domain Name to direct users to a purported blog making prominent use of the Complainant’s AAA Marks which is not a legitimate noncommercial fair use but demonstrates Respondent’s attempt to benefit from the false impression that the website is associated or affiliated with Complainant.
Complainant contends that Respondent has also used the website associated with the Domain Name to host pay-per-click advertisements for purposes of pecuniary gain benefitting from an apparent affiliation or association with Complainant, which Complainant submits does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use and is prima facie evidence of bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Complainant provides clear evidence that the AAA Marks are exclusively associated with a range of insurance goods and services, primarily relating to but not restricted to automobiles and travel. Complainant asserts, without contradiction, that the AAA Marks are long-standing and widely recognized in the US and indeed outside that country.
It is clear that by virtue of its widespread and long-standing operations and the repute of the AAA Marks that an unrelated entity using a similar domain name is likely to lead to members of the public being confused and deceived. In this particular case, Complainant asserts that Respondent is exploiting the likelihood of confusion for a commercial gain, by virtue of Respondent’s blog which in the past has contained entries with click-through links. Complainant asserts that the purported blog hosted by Respondent is a sham.
Complainant asserts that the Domain Name is identical to its AAA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY Mark, apart from the insignificant addition of a hyphen and exclusion of the term “company”. Complainant further argues that the Domain Name is confusingly similar because it includes the entire “AAA” Mark, with the addition of the generic terms “life” and “insurance”. This contention has obvious merit. It follows that the overall impression is that the Domain Name is necessarily connected in some way to Complainant and/or its AAA Marks.
On this basis the Panel finds:
a) Complainant has rights in respect of the AAA Marks.
b) The Domain Name is confusingly similar to the AAA Marks.
Accordingly, the Panel is satisfied that the first element of the Policy has been met.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Complainant contends that Respondent has in the past used the Domain Name in connection with a purported blog that offers click-through links to other companies. The Panel infers that this blog allowed Respondent to generate revenue from click-through activities by using a deliberately similar version of Complainant’s AAA Marks and Complainant’s significant goodwill and reputation to attract Internet traffic. Respondent’s failure to deny these allegations lends weight to what Complainant asserts is happening and why.
The Panel concludes that the Domain Name has been employed as a means of diverting Internet customers. In those circumstances it is difficult to see how Respondent’s conduct could be characterized as legitimate. The business model of registering well-known trademarks and names as domain names and deriving small but regular revenue from “click through” business is all too well-known.
On this basis the Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.
The Panel is satisfied that the second element of the Policy has been met.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Having reached the view that Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract for commercial gain Internet users to its blog and thereby creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant and/or the AAA Marks, it may, in appropriate cases, be a relatively small step to finding bad faith. In the absence of any explanation from Respondent the Panel finds that it registered and used the Domain Name to take bad faith advantage of Internet users who may wish to avail themselves of Complainant’s well-known and clearly designated services and goods. Further, the Panel finds that such Internet users are likely to be attracted to Respondent’s blog or other websites or portals and be misled as to their origins, sponsorship or association.
Further, the Panel is satisfied that bad faith registration is supported by the fact that Complainant’s AAA Marks very significantly pre-dated Respondent’s registration of the Domain Name and in light of the long-established use and widespread protection of the AAA Marks that Respondent knew or ought to have known of Complainant’s prior rights.
The Panel thus has no difficulty in concluding that the third element of the Policy has been met.
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 <aaalife-insurance.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Clive L. Elliott
Dated: November, 12, 2012