WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Nu Mark LLC v. Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0148807310 / Joseph Casey, Apex Vapor
Case No. D2017-2083
1. The Parties
Complainant is Nu Mark LLC of Richmond, Virginia, United States of America (“United States”), represented by CSC Digital Brand Services AB, Sweden.
Respondent is Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0148807310 of Toronto, Canada / Joseph Casey, Apex Vapor of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, United States.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <apexvapor.net> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with Tucows Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 25, 2017. On October 26, 2017, the Center transmitted by e-mail to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On October 26, 2017, the Registrar transmitted by e-mail to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Domain Name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an e-mail communication to Complainant on October 30, 2017, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainant filed an amended Complaint on November 1, 2017.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended Complaint (hereafter referred to as 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 November 2, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 22, 2017. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on November 23, 2017.
The Center appointed Robert A. Badgley as the sole panelist in this matter on November 29, 2017. 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
According to the Complaint, Complainant, a subsidiary of Altria Group, Inc., is “focused on responsibly developing and marketing innovative tobacco products, including electronic vapor products, commonly known as ‘e-vapor’ products, as well as cartomizers, batteries, battery chargers, and car power adapters for e-vapor products, under the APEX® marks.” Complainant holds various trademark registrations for the APEX mark, including United States Patent and Trademark Office Registration No. 5,082,503 for APEX, registered November 15, 2016. The first use in commerce of this mark is August 6, 2016. Complainant also owns several domain names containing the APEX mark.
The Domain Name was registered on July 26, 2017. The Domain Name resolves to a holding page which bears the text “APEXVAPES 4 APEXPPL” and states that the site is under construction.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant asserts that it has established all three elements required under the Policy for a transfer of the Domain Name.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists the three elements which Complainant must satisfy with respect to the Domain Name:
(i) the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(ii) 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.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel concludes that Complainant has rights in the mark APEX through registration and use. The Domain Name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark, since it incorporates the mark APEX in its entirety and adds the letter “vapor,” which word describes the type of products offered under the APEX mark and hence does not diminish confusing similarity to the mark.
Complainant has established Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Pursuant to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, Respondent may establish its rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name, among other circumstances, by showing any of the following elements:
(i) before any notice to you [Respondent] of the dispute, your 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) you [Respondent] (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the Domain Name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) you [Respondent] are 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.
The Panel concludes that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. Complainant states that it has not authorized Respondent in any manner to use its APEX mark in a domain name or otherwise, and Complainant disavows any relationship or affiliation with Respondent. For his part, Respondent has not come forward to explain his bona fides, if any, with respect to the Domain Name. These circumstances do not confer upon Respondent any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
Complainant has established Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii).
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides that the following circumstances, “in particular but without limitation,” are evidence of the registration and use of the Domain Name in “bad faith”:
(i) circumstances indicating that Respondent has registered or has acquired the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the Domain Name registration to Complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of its documented out of pocket costs directly related to the Domain Name; or
(ii) that Respondent has registered the Domain Name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) that Respondent has registered the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) that by using the Domain Name, Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to Respondent’s website or other on line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of Respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on Respondent’s website or location.
The Panel concludes that Respondent has registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith. Given the fact that the Domain Name is comprised of the APEX mark and the word “vapor,” it is obvious that Respondent had Complainant’s mark in mind when registering the Domain Name. With respect to bad faith use, there is at present merely a holding page under construction with the additional text “APEXVAPES 4 APEXPPL.” The most plausible inference to be drawn from this rudimentary website content is that Respondent is planning to create a website which will derive commercial gain by trading off of the renown of Complainant’s mark, either via pay-per-click advertisements, or the sale of e-vapor products (perhaps those of Complainant, perhaps those of competitors, perhaps counterfeits), or some other illegitimate activity.
In short, the content of the Domain Name plus the content (albeit limited) of the website to which the Domain Name resolves, makes it fairly clear that Respondent has targeted Complainant and its APEX mark in aid of some goal which Respondent has not seen fit to explain. There is no apparent legitimate explanation in this record or in common sense, and therefore the Panel concludes that Respondent is intentionally seeking to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to his website by creating confusing similarity between the Domain Name and the APEX mark. This amounts to bad faith registration and use under Policy paragraph 4(b)(iv).
Complainant has established Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii).
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <apexvapor.net> be transferred to Complainant.
Robert A. Badgley
Date: December 3, 2017