WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Vivid Seats LLC v. Peter Smith / Domain Administrator, Domains by Proxy, LLC
Case No. D2016-1784
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Vivid Seats LLC of Chicago, Illinois, United States of America (“United States”) represented by Norvell IP llc, United States.
The Respondent is Peter Smith of Douglas, Isle of Man, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“United Kingdom”) / Domain Administrator, Domains by Proxy, LLC of Scottsdale, Arizona, United States.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <ticketsmofo.com>, <viividseats.com>, <vividdseats.com>, <vividsetas.com>, <vividsseat.com>, <vivvidseats.com> and <vvidseats.com> are 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 1, 2016. On September 1, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On the same day, 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 for the disputed domain name <ticketsmofo.com> and disclosing registrant and contact information for the remaining disputed domain names which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on September 6, 2016 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on September 10, 2016.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended 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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on September 14, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 4, 2016. The Response was filed with the Center on October 3, 2016.
The Center appointed Warwick A. Rothnie as the sole panelist in this matter on October 12, 2016. 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
The Complainant operates a service reselling tickets for events such as sports games, concerts and theatre performances. It refers to this service as a full-service secondary ticket marketplace. It started its business in 2001. It now claims to be one of the top three secondary ticket marketplaces in the United States.
The Complainant has one registered trademark in the United States: Registered Trademark No. 3,614,140, VIVID SEATS, for entertainment ticket agency services and online entertainment ticket agency services in International Class 41. This trademark was registered on April 28, 2009.
The Complainant also has pending applications to register other marks for or based on VIVID SEATS in the United States. It is unnecessary to consider them further.
The disputed domain names <viividseats.com>, <vividdseats.com>, <vividsetas.com>, <vividsseat.com>, <vivvidseats.com> and <vvidseats.com> (the “Typo disputed domain names”) were registered on September 16, 2014. The first disputed domain name <ticketsmofo.com> (the “first disputed domain name”) was registered on August 18, 2015.
All the Typo disputed domain names redirect to the Respondent’s website (“www.ticketsmofo.com”)..
The Respondent1 also operates a secondary ticket marketplace. In his response, he claims to run a business under the name “Tickets Mofo” and that his website offers for sale tickets to events such as sporting events, concerts, Broadway shows and circuses. He “takes no position respecting” the Typo disputed domain names. Before the Complainant sent a cease and desist letter to the Respondent, it would appear that the Respondent’s website bore a very close resemblance to the Complainant’s website; so much so that the Complainant describes the Respondent’s website as “mirroring” the Complainant’s website.
Earlier this year, the Complainant successfully brought a complaint against the Respondent in respect of three other domain names <vividseasts.com>, <vividsets.com> and <viviidseats.com>: Vivid Seats Limited v. Domain Administrator, Domains by Proxy, LLC / Peter Smith, WIPO Case No. D2016-1125.
5. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy provides that in order to divest the Respondent of the disputed domain names, the Complainant must demonstrate each of the following:
(i) the disputed domain names are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names; and
(iii) the disputed domain names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules directs the Panel to decide the Complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.
A. Consolidation of all the disputed domain names in the one proceeding
The Complainant contends that it is appropriate for all the disputed domain names to be consolidated in the one administrative proceeding because each disputed domain name is registered with the same underlying registrant and each resolves to the same website. Moreover, although the Typo disputed domain names are markedly different to the first disputed domain name, the website to which each of the Typo disputed domain names resolves displays the title “ticketsmofo.com”.
The Respondent has not disputed the Complainant’s request.
The Panel has power to permit the consolidation pursuant to paragraph 10(e) of the Rules, subject to compliance with the requirements of the Policy and the Rules.
Given the commonality of the Parties to the dispute about each disputed domain name and the factors identified by the Complainant, the Panel considers it is appropriate to consolidate all of the disputed domain names in the one proceeding. It would be duplicative and inefficient to require separate proceedings in these circumstances.
B. The Typo disputed domain names
While the Respondent complains about aspects of the Policy and its application to domain names such as the Typo disputed domain name, in the end the Respondent does not contest that the Typo disputed domain names should be transferred to the Complainant. For the reasons outlined below, the Panel considers that is appropriate.
Each of the Typo disputed domain names is clearly confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark VIVID SEATS. There is no dispute between the Parties that the Respondent is not authorised by the Complainant to use the Complainant’s trademark or in any way associated with the Complainant. The Typo disputed domain names are not derived from the Respondent’s name or any name by which he claims to be commonly known. Moreover, the businesses of the Complainant and the Respondent are in direct competition. The redirection of the Typo disputed domain names to the Respondent’s website therefore does not amount to a bona fide offering of goods and services as per paragraph 4(c) of the Policy. This is a clear and classic case of “typosquatting”. Accordingly, it is clear that the Typo disputed domain names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that all three requirements under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been proven in respect of the Typo disputed domain names. As requested by the Complainant, the Panel will therefore order their transfer.
C. The disputed domain name <ticketsmofo.com>
The Complainant contends that the first disputed domain name should be treated as confusingly similar to the Complainant’s VIVID SEATS trademark too. The Complainant points out that the Typo disputed domain names redirect to the <ticketsmofo.com> website which is (or, at least until the cease-and-desist letter was sent, was) a “mirror” of the Complainant’s website. According to the Complainant, this created a continuation of the unauthorized use of the Complainant’s trademark to lure customers into believing they were dealing with the Complainant. The Complainant contends that by “seamlessly connecting” the disputed domain name <ticketsmofo.com> with the Typo disputed domain names, the Respondent was using the initial interest in the Complainant’s VIVID SEATS trademark to infringe the Complainant’s VIVID SEATS trademark and trade off the Complainant’s good will. According to the Complainant, this created confusing similarity between <ticketsmofo.com> and the Complainant’s trademark.
The Panel does not accept this argument.
The Complainant must show that the first disputed domain name, in this case <ticketsmofo.com>, is identical with, or confusingly similar, to trademark rights of the Complainant.
The only trademark rights asserted by the Complainant are for VIVID SEATS as a registered trademark and, the Panel does not doubt, as an unregistered trademark giving rise to unfair competition remedies.
The second stage of the inquiry under paragraph 4(a)(i) simply requires a visual and aural comparison of the disputed domain name, here <ticketsmofo.com>, to the proven trademark, VIVID SEATS. This can often be answered by examining whether the proven trademark can be seen in the disputed domain name. In this case, that is simply not possible. There is no resemblance visually or aurally between the first disputed domain name <ticketsmofo.com> and the Complainant’s trademark VIVID SEATS. Considered as an alphanumeric string, the first disputed domain name has no resemblance at all to the Complainant’s trademark, VIVID SEATS.
What the Respondent has done may well be actionable, but that would not be because of the resemblance of the first disputed domain name to the Complainant’s trademark. Rather, it would be because of the use of the Typo disputed domain names to redirect to the Respondent’s website or, as the Complainant alleges, the content of the website to which the first disputed domain name <ticketsmofo.com> resolves. Neither of those considerations provides a warrant to extend the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) under the Policy in the manner contended for by the Complainant. In that connection, it should be borne in mind that the Policy is addressed to a limited issue: abusive registration of domain names. It is directed at the domain name itself. It is the domain name in dispute that must be shown to breach the requirements of the Policy.
Accordingly, the Complainant has failed to establish the first requirement under the Policy in respect of the first disputed domain name <ticketsmofo.com>. Therefore, the Complaint must fail in respect of that disputed domain name as the three requirements set out in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are cumulative. All must be satisfied. In those circumstances, no good purpose would be served by considering the Parties’ arguments under the other grounds of the Policy.
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 names <viividseats.com>, <vividdseats.com>, <vividsetas.com>, <vividsseat.com>, <vivvidseats.com> and <vvidseats.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
However, the Complaint in respect of the disputed domain name <ticketsmofo.com> is denied.
Warwick A. Rothnie
Date: October 21, 2016
1 . As the Registrar has revealed that Peter Smith holds the Typo disputed domain names, it is sufficient for the Panel to refer simply to the Respondent for ease of reference.