WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
AARP v. Larry Veach, FanCamGames Inc.
Case No. D2016-2225
1. The Parties
The Complainant is AARP of Washington, DC, United States of America (“USA”), represented by CSC Digital Brand Services AB, Sweden.
The Respondent is Larry Veach, FanCamGames Inc., of Wilmington, Delaware, USA.
2. The Domain Names and Registrars
The disputed domain names <aarpdates.com>, <aarpdates.net>, <aarpdates.org>, <aarpdating.net>, <datingaarp.com>, <datingaarp.net>, <onlinedatingaarp.com> and <onlinedatingaarp.org> (the “Domain Names”) 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 November 2, 2016. On November 2, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Names. On November 3, 2016, 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. On November 7, 2016, the Center transmitted by email a Domain Name Expiry Notice to the Registrar, copying the Parties. The Registrar confirmed, on November 7, 2016, that it would ensure that all of the Domain Names remained locked and would not expire during the course of the proceedings.
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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on November 8, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 28, 2016. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 29, 2016.
The Center appointed W. Scott Blackmer as the sole panelist in this matter on December 5, 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 is a well-known US nonprofit, a social welfare organization with 38 million members, organized as a nonprofit corporation under the laws of the District of Columbia, USA. Initially established as the American Association of Retired Persons in 1958, the organization’s name was changed to AARP in 1999 (according to the Wikipedia article on “AARP”); members may be 50 or older and need not be retired. The Complainant serves as an advocacy group in social and political issues affecting seniors and publishes, among the world’s largest circulation magazines, “AARP The Magazine”, with more than 36 million readers. The Complainant operates a website at “www.aarp.org” (a domain name which it first registered in 1994) with more than 5 million unique monthly visitors. The Complainant licenses its trademarks to insurance providers, travel agencies, and other third parties that offer services of interest to members.
The Complainant holds several US, Canadian, and European trademark registrations for AARP as a standard character mark, including US Registration Numbers 1046998 and 1047005, both registered on August 24, 1976.
According to the Registrar, all eight Domain Names were created on January 24, 2014. At the time of this Decision, the Domain Names all resolve to a dating website, “www.homedatingnetwork.com”, operated by the Respondent (the “Respondent’s website”). The Respondent’s website allows men and women to post profiles, photos, and videos and includes a chat feature. It allows users to sign up for free but includes content provided by third parties including “call girls” and “escort services”. The website advertises an “affiliate program” for third parties to “earn with us”, apparently by advertising through the site.
The Complainant’s representative sent a cease-and-desist demand by email to the Respondent on January 28, 2014, requesting transfer of six of the Domain Names that the Complainant had discovered by that time, and a similar email on February 6, 2014 listing all eight of the Domain Names currently at issue in this proceeding. The Respondent replied by email dated January 28, 2014:
It is my right to use in the url of any name that has not been registered by you. Please start negotions of funding my company.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant asserts that all of the Domain Names are confusingly similar to its AARP marks and that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Names. The Complainant argues that there is no plausible good-faith motivation for choosing eight Domain Names incorporating the Complainant’s well-known AARP mark and infers that the Respondent registered and used the Domain Names in bad faith, to misdirect Internet users for commercial gain to the Respondent’s dating website.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy provides that in order to divest a respondent of a disputed domain name, a complainant must demonstrate each of the following:
(i) the disputed domain name is 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 name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Under paragraph 15(a) of the Rules, “A Panel shall decide a 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. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The first element of the UDRP “serves essentially as a standing requirement” and entails “a straightforward visual or aural comparison of the trademark with the alphanumeric string in the domain name”. WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition (“WIPO Overview 2.0”), paragraph 1.2.
The Complainant indisputably holds registered AARP trademarks, and all eight Domain Names incorporate the AARP mark in its entirety, a mark that is not a dictionary word, combining it with generic words or phrases that do not eliminate confusion. See ibid (“the relevant trademark would generally need to be recognizable as such within the domain name, with the addition of common, dictionary, descriptive, or negative terms … typically being regarded as insufficient to prevent threshold Internet user confusion”).
The Panel finds confusing similarity with respect to all eight Domain Names and concludes that the first element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been established.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy gives non-exclusive examples of instances in which the Respondent may establish rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name, by demonstrating any of the following:
(i) before any notice to it of the dispute, the Respondent’s use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the Domain Name or a name corresponding to the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) that the Respondent has been commonly known by the Domain Name, even if it has acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) the Respondent is making a 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.
Since a respondent in a UDRP proceeding is in the best position to assert rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name, it is well established that after a complainant makes a prima facie case, the burden of production to show rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name shifts to the respondent. See WIPO Overview 2.0, paragraph 2.1.
Here, it is undisputed that the Complainant has not given the Respondent permission to use its marks, which are incorporated in their entirety in the Domain Names. The Domain Names are clearly used for commercial purposes and not for noncommercial fair use. All eight Domain Names are used to redirect Internet users to the Respondent’s website, where there is no indication that the Respondent or its services are known by a corresponding name. The Panel finds, therefore, that the Complainant has made a prima facie case and that the Respondent has failed to come forward with evidence of rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Names. The Complainant prevails on the second element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Policy, paragraph 4(b), furnishes a non-exhaustive list of circumstances that “shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith”, including the following:
“(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your website or location or of a product or service on your website or location.”
The Panel finds it probable that the Respondent selected the Domain Names precisely to exploit the reputation of the AARP mark, which has been in circulation for more than half a century and is familiar to tens of millions of Internet users. The mark is distinctive, not a dictionary word, and has nothing to do with the Respondent’s dating business. The Domain Names simply redirect users to the Respondent’s dating website, in what appears to be a classic example of the circumstances described in the Policy, paragraph 4(b)(iv). Incorporating the trademark of another into a domain name, without permission, to attract Internet users for commercial gain constitutes bad faith under the Policy. The Respondent has not submitted a Response claiming any legitimate, alternative reason for registering and using the Domain Names.
The Panel concludes that the third element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, bad faith, has been established.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Disputed Names <aarpdates.com>, <aarpdates.net>, <aarpdates.org>, <aarpdating.net>, <datingaarp.com>, <datingaarp.net>, <onlinedatingaarp.com> and <onlinedatingaarp.org> be transferred to the Complainant.
W. Scott Blackmer
Date: December 16, 2016