WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
State of Wisconsin v. Pro-Life Domains, Inc.
Case No. D2003-0432
1. The Parties
The Complainant is the State of Wisconsin, Department of Administration, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.
The Respondent is Pro-Life Domains, Inc., also known as High Traffic Pro-Life Domains only $999, Bronx, New York, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <wisconsindepartmentofrevenue.com> (the "domain name") is registered with Intercosmos Media Group d/b/a directNIC.com.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on June 4, 2003. On June 5, 2003, the Center transmitted a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. The Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response. The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Policy"), 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 June 23, 2003. The Respondent failed to respond and a Notification of Respondent’s Default was issued on July 24, 2003.
The Center appointed Mark Partridge as panelist in this matter on July 28, 2003. The panel finds that it was properly constituted. Mr. Partridge 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 the State of Wisconsin, Department of Administration, a sovereign state of the Union. One of the departments operated by the State of Wisconsin is the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. This department and its predecessors have performed the state’s taxing functions since 1868. The department has provided services under the name Wisconsin Department of Revenue for many years and is commonly known to the public by that name.
The domain name was registered on April 13, 2002. The Registrant is identified as "High Traffic Pro-Life Domains only $999 Pro-Life Domains, Inc." The domain name initially directed Internet users to a site at "www.abortionsaremurder.org." More recently, the domain name is used to redirect traffic to "www.rxmeds.com," a commercial website for the retail sale of prescription drugs.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant contends that the domain name is identical to a name in which Complainant owns trademark rights.
Complainant contends that Respondent has not made any bona fide offering of goods or services under the domain name, is not known by the domain name, and has not made any fair or non-commercial use of the domain name. Therefore, it asserts that Respondent lacks any right or legitimate interest in the domain name.
Complainant finally contends that Respondent registered and used the domain name in bad faith by using it to redirect traffic to an unauthorized site.
Respondent has not responded to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 14 of the Rules provides that in the event of default the panel "may draw such inferences therefrom as it considers appropriate."
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs the panel that "A panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules or principles of law that it deems applicable."
Both parties here are located in the U.S., so it is appropriate to apply U.S. legal principles. Under U.S. law, where a defendant has defaulted, the facts set forth in the plaintiff’s complaint are deemed admitted. The court, however, is required to evaluate the complaint to ensure that it properly states a claim. GlobalSantaFe Corp. v. Globalsantafe.com, 250 F.Supp.2d 610, 612 (E.D.Va. 2003).
Where a party fails to present evidence in its control, the panel may draw adverse inferences regarding those facts. Mary-Lynn Mondich and American Vintage Wine Biscuits, Inc. v. Shane Brown, doing business as Big Daddy’s Antiques, WIPO Case No. D2000-0004 (February 16, 2000).
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that the Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred:
(i) the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Here, since Respondent has defaulted, it is therefore appropriate to accept the facts asserted by Complainant and to draw adverse inferences of fact against Respondent.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The domain name is identical to a name used by Complainant to provide public services. There is no indication that the name Wisconsin Department of Revenue is registered as a trade or service mark. However, it appears that Complainant has used the name in connection with services rendered to the public for many years. Therefore, the panel concludes that Complainant has common law trademark rights in the name.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Complainant has made a prima facie showing that the Respondent lacks any rights or legitimate interest in the domain name. Respondent has not made a bona fide offering of goods or services under the domain name, does not hold any trademark registrations relating to that name, and is not generally known by that name. Further, Respondent is not making fair or noncommercial use of the domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
It appears that Respondent registered and used the domain name for the purpose of misdirecting Internet users to a commercial site based on confusion with Complainant’s name. The domain name redirects Internet users to a commercial site selling prescription drugs. Using a party’s name to redirect Internet users to an unrelated commercial site for profit is recognized under the Policy as evidence of bad faith registration and use. Policy, Paragraph 4(b)(iv). Further evidence of bad faith registration and use appears in the registration record. The domain name registrant is identified as "High Traffic Pro-Life Domains Only $999," a clear admission that Respondent registered the domain name with the bad faith intent of selling it for profit.
For these reasons, in accordance with Paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the panel orders that the domain name <wisconsindepartmentofrevenue.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: August 4, 2003