WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Verizon Trademark Services LLC v. Jeff Goodman / Goody Tickets LLC
Case No. D2015-1750
1. The Parties
Complainant is Verizon Trademark Services LLC of Arlington, Virginia, United States of America ("United States" or "U.S."), represented internally.
Respondent is Jeff Goodman / Goody Tickets LLC of Overland Park, Kansas, United States, represented by Hovey Williams LLP, United States.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <verizonticket.center> 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 October 1, 2015. On October 2, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 3, 2015, 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 and 4, the Center formally notified Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on October 9, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 29, 2015. A Response was filed with the Center on November 5, 2015. On November 9, 2015, Complainant filed a supplemental filing with the Center.
The Center appointed Lorelei Ritchie as the sole panelist in this matter on November 13, 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 is part of the VERIZON group of companies, which is one of the world's leading providers of communications, entertainment, IT and security products and services to residential, business, wholesale and government, wireline and wireless customers. It is a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange, a DOW 30 Company, and generated operating revenue of USD 127 billion in 2014, with over 178,000 employees in 159 countries. Complainant is the registered owner of trademarks around the world, including in the United States, where Respondent lists its address of record. These include U.S. Registration No. 4,016,510 (registered 2011) for VERIZON for arena services, as well as U.S. Registration No. 2,886,813 (registered 2004); U.S. Registration No. 3,085,712 (registered 2006); and U.S. Registration No. 2,879,802 (registered 2004).
Complainant licenses its VERIZON mark for use on the Verizon Center in downtown Washington, D.C., as a multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue. The Panel notes that in prior UDRP proceedings, various panels have found Complainant's VERIZON mark to be "famous" or "well known." See Verizon Trademark Services LLC v. Mike Duffy, London Central Communications, Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2014-1994; Verizon Trademark Services LLC v. Tunde Opaleye/MakarioWorks, WIPO Case No. D2014-0262; Verizon Trademark Services LLC v. Ali Aziz, WIPO Case No. D2010-0833.
Respondent registered the disputed domain name <verizonticket.center>, on August 30, 2015. The disputed domain name does not appear to resolve to an active website as of the filing of the Complaint. Respondent has no affiliation with Complainant, nor any license to use its trademarks.
5. Parties' Contentions
Complainant contends that (i) <verizonticket.center> is identical or confusingly similar to Complainant's trademarks; (ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name; and (iii) Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Specifically, Complainant contends that it is the owner of the coined, fanciful VERIZON mark, and that it has licensed use of its mark for the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. for sporting and entertainment events. Complainant contends that its VERIZON mark is well known, and that although Respondent is not currently resolving the disputed domain name to an active website, Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and rather has registered and is using it in bad faith.
Respondent contends that it is not using the disputed domain name in bad faith since it is not actively using the disputed domain name to resolve to an active website.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Late and Supplementary Filings
A response was due from Respondent on October 29, 2015. When no response was received, the Center sent a notification of default on October 30, 2015. Respondent then submitted a response via its counsel on November 5, 2015, citing inadvertence.
Complainant, in turn, submitted an unsolicited supplementary filing on November 9, 2015, arguing that the Panel should not consider Respondent's late filing, but at the same time arguing against the points made in Respondent's filing.
Although there is no provision in the Rules for filing supplementary papers except in response to notifications of deficiency by the Center (or if requested by the Panel), and although Respondent's filing was past the due date, the Panel finds the additional information useful and has considered all submissions herein. Seeparagraph 5 of the Rules; WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition ("WIPO Overview 2.0"), paragraph 4.2; and BlackRock Institutional Trust Co., N.A. v. Investors FastTrack, WIPO Case No. D2010-1038.
B. Identical or Confusingly Similar
This Panel must first determine whether <verizonticket.center> is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy. The Panel finds that it is. The disputed domain name incorporates in full Complainant's coined, fanciful mark, VERIZON, and combines it with the descriptive term "ticket," and the generic Top-Level Domain ".center", which would indicate to Internet users a place where they could find tickets for the Verizon Center, or a center for Verizon ticket sales.
Numerous UDRP panels have agreed that supplementing or modifying a trademark with generic or descriptive words does not make a domain name any less "identical or confusingly similar" for purposes of satisfying this first prong of paragraph (4)(a)(i) of the Policy. See, for example, Microsoft Corporation v. Step Web, WIPO Case No. D2000-1500; Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Horoshiy, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2004-0620; General Electric Company v. Recruiters, WIPO Case No. D2007-0584.
The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which Complainant has rights in accordance with paragraph (4)(a)(i) of the Policy.
C. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel next considers whether Complainant has shown that Respondent has no "rights or legitimate interests" as must be proven to succeed in a UDRP dispute. Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy gives examples that might show rights or legitimate interests in a domain name. These examples include: (i) use of the domain name "in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services"; (ii) demonstration that respondent has been "commonly known by the domain name"; or (iii) "legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue."
No evidence has been presented to this Panel that might support a claim of Respondents' rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, which incorporates Complainant's well-known mark.
Therefore, this Panel finds that Complainant has provided sufficient evidence of Respondents' lack of "rights or legitimate interests" in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy which Respondent has not rebutted.
D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
There are several ways that a complainant can demonstrate that a domain name was registered and used in bad faith. For example, paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy states that bad faith can be shown where "by using the domain name [respondent has] intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [respondent's] web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of [respondent's] website or location or of a product or service on [the] web site or location." Although, as Respondent points out, it is not currently using the disputed domain name to resolve to an active website, passive holding does not as such prevent a finding of bad faith use. WIPO Overview 2.0, paragraph 3.2. Rather, the Panel must look at the totality of the circumstances. Complainant's VERIZON mark is well known. Respondent does not deny that it is aware of the mark. Neither does Respondent deny, as asserted and evidenced by Complainant, that after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Complainant, Respondent applied a privacy shield to mask its registration of the disputed domain name.
Therefore, this Panel finds that Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
For all 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 <verizonticket.center> be transferred to Complainant.
Date: November 25, 2015