WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
BuzzFeed, Inc. v. Ryan Lenahan
Case No. D2015-0803
1. The Parties
Complainant is BuzzFeed, Inc. of New York, New York, United States of America, internally represented.
Respondent is Ryan Lenahan of Riverside, California, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <buzzfeednews.com> (the "Disputed Domain Name") is registered with eNom (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on May 6, 2015. On May 7, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Name. On May 8, 2015, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. In response to a notification by the Center that the Complaint was not signed, Complainant resent the Complaint with signature on May 27, 2015.
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 May 28, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was June 17, 2015. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent's default on June 18, 2015.
The Center appointed Michael A. Albert as the sole panelist in this matter on June 24, 2015. 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, BuzzFeed, Inc. ("BuzzFeed"), is an Internet news and entertainment media company incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware.
BuzzFeed registered the BUZZFEED trademark in the United States (No. 4,600,026) for entertainment services to be used for website content displaying trending news, on September 9, 2014. The mark has been in use since January 16, 2007.
BuzzFeed also registered the BUZZFEED trademark in the United States (No. 3,367,020) for marketing and advertising, on January 8, 2008, with the same first use date.
The Disputed Domain Name was registered on July 22, 2013.
5. Parties' Contentions
Complainant is an Internet news and entertainment company, and has expanded its offerings from entertainment and "lists" to news and longform reporting. In 2007, Complainant adopted and began to use the designation and trademark BUZZFEED. Complainant's official website includes a page which is exclusively focused on news: the page is titled "BuzzFeed News." Continuously since 2007, Complainant has used the BUZZFEED marks in connection with products and services available on its website.
Currently, many news organizations worldwide cover Complainant, and regularly interview its reporters to cover news events of the day. Complainant currently reaches a global audience of over one billion readers.
Complainant has developed a robust trademark. Attached to the Complaint are copies of the registration certificates for Complainant's BUZZFEED marks.
As of the date of the Complaint, the Disputed Domain Name <buzzfeednews.com> resolved to a site that was inactive, and appeared to indicate that the content was offline or inaccessible. Respondent, which is not associated or affiliated with Complainant, has not been authorized to use or incorporate any of Complainant's marks into its domain name. Respondent's use of the Disputed Domain Name is deceptive and misleading inasmuch as it wholly incorporates Complainant's BUZZFEED mark combined with the generic term "news" suggesting that Respondent's website is the landing page for Complainant's BuzzFeed News service.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
The Panel finds that Complainant has met each of the elements required by the Policy: In particular, the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to Complainant's marks, Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name, and Respondent registered and used the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Complainant has made extensive use of the BUZZFEED marks in connection with its Internet based entertainment and news services, and has obtained trademark registrations in the United States.
The inclusion of the entire BUZZFEED trademark in the Disputed Domain Name, adding only the term "news", results in a domain name which, taken as a whole, is confusingly similar to Complainant's marks. In particular, it is well established that the addition of a common descriptive word to a trademark in a domain name does not distinguish the domain name from the trademark or diminish the risk of confusion. See Citrix Systems, Inc. v. WhoisProtectService.net ProtectService, Ltd. / Alexandr golounin, WIPO Case No. D2014-0250 (transferring <citrixtestdrive.com> to the complainant); Citrix Systems, Inc. v. Jing Wu, WIPO Case No. D2012-1935 (transferring <citrixsupportteam.com> to the complainant).
Here, the descriptive word "news" that was added to Complainant's marks is descriptive of the goods and services provided by Complainant in connection with those marks and therefore only increases, rather than mitigates, the risk of confusion.
The Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to Complainant's marks.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Respondent has no connection or affiliation with Complainant and has not received any license or consent, express or implied, to use the BUZZFEED marks in a domain name or in any other manner. Respondent has not been commonly known by the Disputed Domain Name.
Respondent is also not utilizing the Disputed Domain Name as a bona fide offering of goods or services. Respondent is not doing business using the Disputed Domain Name. Rather, Respondent is making unauthorized use of Complainant's mark, with the likely effect of confusing Complainant's customers and users by making them believe that Complainant's website is down and inaccessible.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
As explained above, Respondent's intentional registration of the Disputed Domain Name that contains Complainant's marks was likely to confuse Complainant's users, damaging Complainant's brand. Respondent's inaction with respect to the Disputed Domain Name, furthermore, suggests that Respondent had no bona fide intent to use the Disputed Domain Name. See Kate Spade, LLC v. Darmstadter Designs, WIPO Case No. D2001-1384 (failure to use the domain name with a website for three years since registration contributed to a finding of bad faith).
Respondent also attempted to conceal his identity. A third party proxy registration service, WhoisGuard, was utilized by Respondent.1
The above registration and use of the Disputed Domain Name were clearly intended to, and likely had the effect of, trading on the goodwill associated with Complainant and its BUZZFEED marks, and confusing consumers into believing Complainant's services were not online or were inaccessible.
Respondent has not rebutted the above showing in any way.
Accordingly, the Panel concludes that Complainant has met its burden of proving that the Disputed Domain Name was registered and used in bad faith.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Disputed Domain Name, <buzzfeednews.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Michael A. Albert
Date: June 29, 2015
1 The proxy service provided Complainant with Respondent's identity before the filing of the Complaint.