WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Rant, LLC v. Walter Long
Case No. D2000-0946
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Rant, LLC, a domestic Limited Liability Company with a business address at P.O. Box 8284, Silver Spring, MD 20907. The Respondent is Walter Long, an individual located at 59 Gorham St., Somerville, MA 02144, also known as Walter Long, Domains, Inc., 45 Pleasant St., Newburyport, MA 01950.
2. The Domain Name(s) and Registrar(s)
The domain name at issue is <rant.com>, which domain name is registered with Network Solutions, Inc. ("NSI"), 505 Huntmar Park Drive, Herndon, 20170-5139 Virginia, United States of America.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was received by the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "WIPO Center") on August 7, 2000. A Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding was sent by the WIPO Center to the complainant (via e-mail) and respondent (via e-mail), dated August 23, 2000.
On August 16, 2000, WIPO Center sent a Registrar Verification to the registrar, NSI, which asked NSI to: (1) confirm that Network Solutions was in receipt of the Complaint submitted by Complainant; (2) confirm Network Solutions is the registrar of the domain name registration; (3) confirm that Walter Long is the current registrant of the <rant.com> domain name registration; (4) provide the full contact details (i.e., postal address(es), telephone number(s), e-mail address(es) available in the registrarís WHOIS database for the registrant of the disputed domain name, the technical contact, the administrative contact and the billing contact; (5) confirm that the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy applies to the domain name(s); (6) indicate the current status of the domain name(s).
The August 21, 2000 Verification Response from NSI confirmed by reply e-mail that the domain name <rant.com> is registered with NSI and that the respondent, Walter Long, is the current registrant of that domain name. NSI advised that the policy in effect is Network Solutionsí 5.0 Agreement. NSI also confirmed that the domain name <rant.com> is in "Active" status.
On August 16, 2000, a Formal Requirements Compliance review was completed by the assigned WIPO Center Case Administrator. The Panel has independently determined and agrees with the assessment of the WIPO Center that the Complaint appears in formal compliance with the requirements of the Policy, the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, as approved by ICANN on October 24, 1999 (the "Rules"), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Supplemental Rules"). WIPO Center has determined that the required fees for a single-member Panel were paid on time and in the required amount by the complainant.
No formal deficiencies having been recorded and on August 23, 2000, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification") was transmitted to the respondent via post/courier, facsimile and e-mail (with copies to the complainant, NSI and ICANN), setting a deadline of September 11, 2000, by which the respondent could make a Response to the Complaint. Having reviewed the communications records in the case file, the Administrative Panel finds that the WIPO Center has discharged its responsibility under Paragraph 2(a) of the Rules "to employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice to Respondent."
On September 15, 2000, having received no Response from the designated respondent, the WIPO Center transmitted to the parties by e-mail a Notification of Respondent Default. No Response or other document has been received by the WIPO Center or the Administrative Panel from the respondent since the Notification of Default.
On September 25, 2000, in view of the complainantís designation of a single panelist, the WIPO Center invited Roderick Thompson to serve as a panelist in Case No. D2000-0946, and transmitted to him a Statement of Acceptance and Request for Declaration of Impartiality and Independence.
Having received Roderick Thompsonís Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, on September 27, 2000, the WIPO Center sent to the parties a Notification of Panelist Appointment, in which Roderick Thompson was formally appointed as the Sole Panelist. The Projected Decision Date was determined to be October 10, 2000. The Sole Panelist finds that the Administrative Panel was properly constituted and appointed in accordance with the Rules and WIPO Supplemental Rules.
Respondent has not made a formal Response to the Complaint. Nor has any other communication from Respondent been received by WIPO Center. This Panelist, therefore, finds that respondent received notice of the complaint and failed to submit a response as required by Rule 5. Respondent is, therefore, in default and, under Rule 14(a), this Panelist shall "proceed to a decision on the complaint." Accordingly, this Panelist shall proceed to a decision based on the allegations in the complaint and shall draw such inferences as are appropriate from the other documents submitted to WIPO.
4. Factual Background
The complainant has provided evidence of the filing of application for registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office of the following mark:
RANT: for goods and services, namely providing interactive, on-line Satire Magazine of Opinion, Review, Commentary, in the field of news, politics, policy, current and historical events, advertising, food, business, technology, humor, entertainment, arts, music, literature, leisure, travel, games. Including chat room services and discussion groups.
Complaint, Exh. B. Apparently the application remains pending and RANT is not yet a registered mark. Nonetheless, Complainantís allegations of use establishes common law rights in the mark.
The Complaint claims a first use of July 15, 1995. Id. Complainant asserts that it has used and currently uses the mark, RANT, in the distribution, advertising, promotion and display of the Rant website and print publication Rant Magazine. Complaint, page 1.
Respondent is the current registrant of the domain name <rant.com>. Complaint, Exhs. C & D. The WHOIS database shows that respondent is also the Administrative Contact, Technical Contact and Zone Contact for the domain name <rant.com>. Complaint, Exh. D. The WHOIS record of the domain RANT was created on May 21, 1997 and last updated on July 10, 2000. Id. at Exh. C.
5. Partiesí Contentions
Complainant contends: 1) that Respondent has registered as a domain name a mark which is identical to the trademark registered and used by Complainant; 2) that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect to the domain name, <rant.com>, and 3) that the domain name was registered and was being used in bad faith. On information and belief, Respondent has registered domain names with the sole intention of selling those domain names to the holders of identical trademarks. See Complaint and Exhs. E through N and P. Specifically, the Complaint alleges that by obtaining the domain name <rant.com>, Respondent has used it in bad faith and prevented Complainant from registering <rant.com> for legitimate use in connection with its trademarked products and services. The domain name is in "Active" status.
Respondent has not contested the allegations of the Complaint and is in default.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Applicable Rules and Principles of Law.
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs this Panelist as to the principles to be used in rendering a decision: "A Panelist shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable." Here, the complainant, the respondent, and the registrar are all domiciled in the United States. United Statesí courts have recent experience with similar disputes. The Final Report of the WIPO Internet Domain Name Process (April 30, 1999 [http://ecommerce.wipo.int/domains/process/eng/ processhome.html]) envisaged the very situation before this Panelist, stating "if the parties to the procedure were resident in one country, the domain was registered through a registrar in that country and the evidence of bad faith registration and use of the domain name related to activity in the same country, it would be appropriate for the decision-maker to refer to the law of the country concerned in applying the definition" of what became paragraph 4(a) of the Policy. Accordingly, this Panelist may look to rules and principles of law set out in decisions of the courts of the United States, including those cited in the Complaint, in determining whether the complainant has met its burden.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that the complainant must prove each of the following:
(i) that the domain name registered by the respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the complainant has rights; and,
(ii) that the respondent has no legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and,
(iii) the domain name has been registered and used in bad faith.
B. Application of Paragraph 4(a)(iii) to the Facts.
The domain name <rant.com> is identical to the trademark registered and used by Complainant, RANT. The domain name and the trademark are, indeed, confusingly similar. As Complainant has submitted (1) USPTO database verification showing Complainant as the applicant in Serial No. 75/785049 for the mark RANT pending with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (Complaint, Exh. B), (2) the Complaint alleges ongoing use of the mark since 1995 and, (3) an NSI WHOIS database search showing respondent as the <rant.com> domain name registrant (Complaint, Exh. C), and the allegations of the Complaint are undisputed, Complainant has satisfied its burden under Paragraph 4 (a)(i). It is also uncontested that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name, satisfying the requirement of Paragraph 4 (a)(ii). See Complaint, Page 3.
The Complaint states that Respondent is a speculator in domain names, registering them without any specific plan for use, and has not evidenced a legitimate interest in using the domain names. The Complaint adds that Respondent had not used the domain name <rant.com> , except for a "For Sale" sign, until about May, 2000. Now, the site redirects users to another site maintained by a different company. All of these statements are uncontested by Respondent. There is no evidence of any legitimate use by Respondent in connection with offering goods or services. This Panelist finds that the name has been registered and used in bad faith within the meaning of Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
The Complaint alleges that "[Respondentís business, Domain Names, Inc., is in the specific business of reselling domain names" to Complainant or the highest bidding competitor. Complaint, Page 5 Complainant alleges that Respondent has exhibited a pattern of registering domain names associated with commonly known trademarks for the purpose of selling those names to the owner of the registered trademark, or to the highest bidder. Complaint, Exhs. F through P. Complainant also alleges that Respondent has redirected these <rant.com> site to other sites, further evidence that Respondent has no legitimate interest in using the <rant.com> for any legitimate use. Complaint, Exh. Q. As Respondent has failed to reply to the allegations asserted in the Complaint and is in default, this Panelist relies on the representations made in the Complaint.
This Panelist therefore concludes that the circumstances presented in this default proceeding qualify as sufficient evidence of registration and use in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4 of the Policy and all applicable legal principles.
For all of the foregoing reasons, this Panelist decides that the domain name registered by Respondent is identical to the trademark in which the Complainant has rights, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name, and that the Respondentís domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. Accordingly, pursuant to Paragraph 4i of the Policy, this Panelist requires that the registration of the domain name <rant.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Dated: October 10, 2000