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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Debbie Robus and Greg Robus v. Nicky Suard (DrivenOne, Inc.)
Case No. D2000-0941
1. The Parties
The Complainants are Debbie Robus and Greg Robus, D/B/A/ WORKAMPER NEWS, located at 201 Hiram Road, Heber Springs, Arkansas 72543, U.S.A.
The Respondents are Nicky Suard, an individual, and DrivenOne, Inc., a California corporation, both of 1155 Trancas Street, Napa, California 94558, USA. The Complaint identified the respondent as "Nicky Suard". The Response confirmed that the individual who registered the dispute domain names is generally known by this name but added that her formal name is Nicole Schirm Suard. The Response also said that the disputed domain names had been transferred to the corporation DrivenOne, Inc., which is being represented by Nicky Suard in this proceeding.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The domain names at issue are:
The Registrar for all of these domain names is Register.com of 575 8th Avenue, New York, New York 10018, USA.
3. Procedural History
The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") received the Complaint of Complainant on August 3, 2000 by email and on August 8, 2000 in hardcopy. The Complainant paid the required fee.
On August 16, 2000, the Center sent to the Registrar a request for verification of registration data. In responses on August 18 and 28, 2000, the Registrar confirmed, inter alia, that it is the registrar of the domain names in dispute and that such names are registered in Respondent Nicky Suard’s name.
Having verified that the Complaint satisfies the formal requirements of the ICANN Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Policy"), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Rules"), and the Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Supplemental Rules"), the Center on August 30, 2000 sent to the Respondent, with a copy to the Complainant, a notification of the administrative proceeding together with copies of the Complaint. This notification was sent by the methods required under paragraph 2(a) of the Rules. The formal date of the commencement of this administrative proceeding is August 30, 2000.
On September 18, 2000, the Center received Respondents’ Response by email with hardcopy received on September 20, 2000. On October 23, 2000, the Center invited William L. Mathis to serve as a Panelist in this proceeding and on October 30, he sent the Center his Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence. On November 1, 2000, the Center notified the parties of the appointment of William L. Mathis as a single member panel.
4. Factual Background
Complainant Debbie Robus registered two trademarks in the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Her Principal Register Registration No. 1, 675,865 is for the trademark WORKAMPER for "subscription newsletters featuring employment opportunities nationwide." It issued February 18, 1992, on an application filed March 4, 1991, and claiming October 1989 as the date of first use of the mark on the goods.
Her Principal Register Registration No. 1,678,511 (issued March 10, 1992) is for a composite trademark that includes the word WORKAMPER, the word NEWS, and design matter (an outline of the United States and a representation of a recreational vehicle). The goods on which the trademark was used were described as "newsletters regarding employment opportunities nationwide." The application for this registration claimed August 1987 as the date of first use of the mark on the goods. The Registration includes the following disclaimer: "no claim is made to the exclusive right to use ‘news’ and the design of the map of the United States apart from the mark as shown."
The Complaint asserts that both of these Registrations "are in full force and effect" and that "[p]ursuant to Section 15 of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1066, both of these marks have become incontestable." These assertions are not contested in Respondents’ Response.
According to the Complaint, the Complainants "coined the term WORKAMPER in 1987 and began publishing a magazine under the name WORKAMPER NEWS." The publication was one in which campgrounds might advertise for persons interested in working at the campground in exchange for a salary or free rent or both. It also dealt with business opportunities in the campground industry. By the time of the Complaint, the magazine had a nationwide circulation in excess of 50,000 and carried some additional content of interest to campers and campground owners.
The Complaint also alleges that Complainants registered a "workamper.com" domain name in November 1996 and have operated a web site under it ever since. That web site is said to provide many of the same features as their printed publications.
Complaint Annex 4 is a printout of Complainants’ home page. A display in large type of "workamper.com" appears at the top of the page, in the manner of a newspaper name. Beneath it in somewhat smaller letters is a line saying "The Official Website of Workamper News."
Complaint Annex 5 is a copy of an application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office seeking registration of a WORKAMPER.COM service mark. It alleges use of the WORKAMPER.COM service mark since 1996 in connection with the service of "Providing information about employment and business opportunities in the campground industry via global computer network." A partial printout of Complainants’ home page is attached to the application as a specimen showing use of the service mark.
Respondent Nicky Suard is an official of Snug Harbor Resorts, LLC. It owns an RV park and marina in Northern California. Nicky Suard has been the offsite park manager since a time in 1997.
According to the Response, Nicky Suard has been familiar with Complainants’ WORKAMPER NEWS for some time. She has used its magazine job listings and telephone ad listing services to locate potential employees for Snug Harbor.
The corporate Respondent, DrivenOne, Inc., was organized by Respondent Nicky Suard in March 2000. She is its president. According to the Response, it was formed to help facilitate development of domain name/web sites held by Nicky Suard, and in May 2000, she formally listed domain names she was transferring to DrivenOne, Inc. "Camphosts and Workcamper web sites" were to be a focus of DrivenOne, Inc. activity.
On April 6 and 7, 2000, Respondent registered the domain names in dispute. She also registered "camphosts.com".
The Response alleges that "camphosts" and "workcampers" are industry terms for the same general type of RV or camp jobs. According to the Response, extra registered domain names were intended to be used at least temporarily "as ‘keywords’ or sites that would point to the ‘parent’ sites of "camphosts.com" and "workcampers.com"."
Soon after registering the domain names in dispute, Respondent created several temporary web pages for use until the development of full "camphosts.com" and "workcampers.com" web sites could be completed. A number of changes in the domains were made over a period of months. Some copies of Respondent’s web pages are included in Response Exhibit D. All of them have content directed to the job posting field. For example, one contains a banner reading "camphosts.com" … a NEW web site for listing camp jobs and camphosts."
On July 18, 2000, an attorney for Complainant sent an email message to Respondent Nicky Suard protesting about the Respondent’s registration of the domain names in dispute and a "workcamper.com" web site. Other correspondence between the parties followed but no resolution was reached.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainants’ contentions are summarized in section IV.[11.] of the Complaint. They are:
(1) that the disputed domain names are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights;
(2) that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names; and
(3) that the disputed domain names were registered and are being used in bad faith.
Complainants seek the transfer of each of the disputed domain names to Complainants.
Respondents set out their contentions in subparts A through G of Section IV.[11.] of the Response. Copies of these follow:
"(A) The trademark held by Complainant is not identical to any of the domain names in dispute, irrespective of the ".xxx" extensions; and
(B) Complainant does not hold a trademark for any of the domain names in dispute; and
(C) The use or registration of the subject domain names do not interfere with or infringe the right of Complainant or any other third party in any jurisdiction with respect to trademark, service mark, trade name, company name or any other intellectual property right; and
(D) The domain names in dispute are not confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; Complainant failed to provide any evidence of alleged confusion for five of the seven disputed domain names; and
(E) Respondent has legitimate rights and business interests in respect to each domain name in dispute; Respondent is not using the subject domain names for any unlawful purpose, nor for the purpose of confusing or misleading others; and further
(F) Complainant has filed complaint in retaliation for Respondents’ refusal to transfer or sell subject domains to Complainant; and
(G) Complainant has filed complaint in order to harass or discourage Respondent from building a competing web site business, in the sense that all web sites are in effect competing even if the purpose and function are different."
6. Discussion and Findings
Complainant’s Trademark Rights
The Response speaks of "workcamper" as an industry term and alleges that Complainant's mark WORKAMPER is a misspelling of that term. However, the Response does not attack directly the Complainant's claims that it owns trademark rights in WORKAMPER and WORKAMPER NEWS and Design.
If an attack against Complainant's ownership of trademark rights was intended, the Panel finds that it is not supported by the record. According to uncontradicted allegations in the Complaint, the Complainant's Principal Register Registrations 1,675,865 and 1,678,511 have become incontestable under 15 U.S.C. 1065 (Section 15 of Trademark Act of 1946, as amended).
A consequence of incontestability is that these registrations constitute "conclusive evidence" of the validity of the marks, the registrant's ownership of the marks, and the registrant's exclusive right to use the registered marks in commerce. 15 U.S.C. 1115(b) (Section 33(b) of Trademark Act of 1946, as amended)
An exception to incontestability arises if the mark "is the generic name for the goods ... for which it is registered." 15 U.S.C. § 1065(4). A defense available to one accused of infringement of an incontestible mark is that "the mark has become abandoned by the registrant." 15 U.S.C. 1115(b)(2). And, a form of abandonment is defined in 15 U.S.C. 1127 as occurring when "any course of conduct of the owner ... causes the mark to become the generic name for the goods or services on or in connection with which it is used or otherwise to lose its significance as a mark."
Section 15 of Restatement of the Law Third, Unfair Competition, 1995, also deals with generic designations. According to subsection (1), a "designation that is understood by prospective purchasers to denominate the general category, type, or class of the goods, services, or business with which it is used is a generic designation. A user cannot acquire rights in a generic designation...." A misspelling of a generic term may also be considered generic. Miller Brewing Co. v. G. Heileman Brewing Co., 561 F.2d 75, 80-81 (7th Cir. 1977) (LITE on beer generic as phonetic equivalent of "light")
The present record evidence does not establish that WORKAMPER was generally understood at a time prior to its adoption by Complainant to denominate anything. To the contrary, the Complaint unequivocally alleges that Complainants "coined the term WORKAMPER in 1987." (emphasis added) This has not been disputed by Respondent. Nor has Respondent provided evidence of any dictionary or industry usage of "workamper" prior to 1987 to denominate goods or services like those offered by Complainant under its marks.
Subsection (2) of Restatement Section 15 states the rule with respect to marks which the public has come to perceive as generic designations: "If prospective purchasers have come to perceive a ... mark primarily as a generic designation for a category ... of the goods, services or business with which it is used, the designation is no longer eligible for protection as a trademark...." Comment a. explains further that under this rule "trademark rights are not lost unless the generic meaning becomes the primary or principal significance of the designation to prospective purchasers. The burden of proof may be properly placed on the person alleging such a loss of distinctiveness. [And] ... if majority usage is established as a fact, it will generally be determinative of the designation's primary significance."
The attempt in the Response to construct a common meaning for "workcamper" is misplaced. While it is true that "work" and "camper" are commonly found in dictionaries, it does not follow that "workcamper" is a common non-proprietary term resulting from putting the two terms together. The individual words "work" and "camper" standing alone do not lead directly to the meaning which page 9 of the Response attributes to "workcamper", that is, "individuals or, more often, couples who travel around the U.S. working at campgrounds to cover their site costs and earn a salary."
This so called meaning is consistent with usages of "Workamper", "Workamping" and "Workampers" in a printout of Complainant's web site promoting Complainant's Workamper News publication. This printout is attached to the Response as Exhibit C.
Respondent's Exhibits F and G are printouts respectively of search engine results and RV industry web sites offered as providing evidence of usage of "workcampers". Some of the Exhibit F entries do seem to use the term in contexts related to recreational vehicle (RV) camping facilities. However, others seem to use the term in contexts of a different kind, suggested by "work camp" definition 2 in The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd ed., unabridged, 1987: "a volunteer project in which members of a church, service organization, etc., work together in aid of some worthy cause." Exhibit G contains eight pages. The Panel does not see any usage of "workcamper" or "workcamping" on five of them. The word "workcamping" is on three pages, one of which contains a specific reference to "Workamper News".
In all, the Panel finds that this evidence fails to establish that Complainant's registered trademarks have become generic.
Moreover, the incontestable status of Complainant's trademarks forecloses an attack based upon contentions that the marks are or have become merely descriptive. See in this connection Park ’N Fly, Inc. v. Dollar Park & Fly, Inc., 496 U.S. 189, 83 L. Ed. 2d 582, 105 S. Ct. 658, 224 U.S.P.Q. 327 (1985).
The Complainant also asserts that Complainant has rights in the service mark "WORKAMPER.COM" for "providing information about employment and business opportunities in the campground industry via a global computer network." However, no federal registration of this mark is alleged to exist at the present time, and there is no presumption that Complainant possesses rights in this service mark. It appears further that an application for registration of the service mark is now on file.
The Panel is of the view that a decision in the present administrative proceeding does not hinge upon Complainant's rights in the service mark. In these circumstances, the Panel considers it appropriate to forego further comment here concerning the service mark, leaving issues concerning it to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office personnel having authority to deal with the application for registration.
Identity or Confusing Similarity
Respondent’s contention A is believed to recognize the minor role of a domain name suffix (e.g., "the .xxx extensions") in an inquiry into whether a domain name is identical or confusingly similar to an adversely owned trademark. Given the evolving patterns of migration of trademarks into corresponding domain names, a domain name suffix is not likely to create a distinguishing impression. See in this respect, Brookfield Communications Inc. v. West Coast Entertainment Corp., 174 F. 3d 1036, 1055, (9th Cir. 1999). (MovieBuff and "moviebuff.com" deemed to be "essentially identical…. [The] differences are inconsequential in light of the fact that Web addresses are not capssensitive and the ‘.com’ top-level domain signifies the site’s commercial nature."
The parties are in agreement that there are some spelling differences between Complainant’s WORKAMPER and each of the disputed domain names. If this were the only point involved in Respondent’s contentions (A) and (B), no additional comment would be needed.
However, the Panel believes that Respondent is under an impression that acceptance of Respondent’s contentions (A) and (B) would carry with it a conclusion that the disputed domain names are not identical, within the meaning of Section 4(a)(i) of the Policy, to Complainant’s WORKAMPER mark. The Panel does not share this view. The Panel’s opinion is that "identical", as used in the Policy, does not focus entirely on spelling details. That is, an incorrectly spelled word may be recognized by a viewer to be the same word as the correctly spelled version. In such cases, the Panel believes that the two may properly be viewed as "identical".
In the present case, the Panel finds it unnecessary to resolve whether the spelling differences between the Complainant’s mark and the disputed domain names prevent findings of fact that the domain names are identical to the mark. The Policy makes this course acceptable by equating identity and confusing similarity. And, as will be explained below, the issue of confusing similarity is virtually uncontested.
A passage from the Complaint accurately describes the elemental facts as to spelling differences between the disputed domain names and Complainants’ registered WORKAMPER trademark: "[S]ome [of the disputed domain names] have inserted the letter ‘C’ after the letter ‘K’ in ‘Work’ and some have added the letter ‘S’ to the end of the word ‘Camper.’ One of the domain names is spelled identically, but has added the letter ‘S’ at the end, e.g., "workampers.com". Another of Suard’s domain names incorporates a double ‘K’, e.g., "workkamper.com". All seven of the domain names sound either the same as or very similar to WORKAMPER when pronounced by consumers and all of the Suard domain names present a similar overall commercial meaning and impression to Complainants’ WORKAMPER marks."
Respondent does not deny that all of the disputed domain names sound like Complainant’s trademark. Nor does Respondent deny that the overall impression engendered by each of the domain names and by the trademarks is a union of "work" and "camper".
Instead of contending that the disputed domain names are not confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademark, Respondent’s contention (D) urges that the confusing similarity is not enough to "warrant extinguishing Respondent’s rights to domain use." Response, p. 9. Several lines of thought are advanced in support of this contention. None is found by the Panel to be persuasive.
First, Respondent faults Complainant’s showing as to actual confusion. However, the Policy does not require that a finding of confusing similarity be grounded on evidence of actual confusion.
Second, Respondent seeks to blame Complainant for creating the confusion by using an incorrect spelling of Complainant’s trademark and failing to register at an early date domain names embodying more intuitive spellings. However, the Policy does not condition the right of a trademark owner to relief upon justifying the spelling chosen for the mark or demand that the trademark owner register as domain names all possible spellings that might be confusingly similar to his mark.
Third, Respondent points to differences between Complainant’s web site and Respondent’s web site. They are said to be "very, very different" and hard to confuse. However, dissimilarities in web site content do not preclude a finding that a domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark.
Fourth, Respondent contends that "Respondent is not the only one utilizing the ‘keyword’ of ‘workcampers.’" Response, p. 13. The evidence offered is sketchy at best. Moreover, it is not evident that third party key word usages have any substantial relation to the question of whether Respondent’s domain names are confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademark.
Respondent’s contention (C) asserts that Respondent has not infringed Complainant’s trademark or other intellectual property rights "because none of the domain names in dispute represent an identical trademark name." Response, p. 8. It is not the law that infringement of a trademark can occur only when a defendant uses an identical designator. Moreover, the Policy does not require a finding of trademark infringement as a prerequisite to a finding that a disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a complainant’s trademark.
In sum then, Respondent’s contentions are unacceptable, and the Panel finds that each of the disputed domain names is confusingly similar to Complainant’s registered trademarks.
Registration and Use in Bad Faith
The Panel turns to the question of whether Respondent’s domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. Section 4(b) of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy under which this administrative proceeding is taking place describes some circumstances which, if found to exist, will be evidence of the registration and use of the domain name in bad faith. Four descriptions are presented in passages (i), (ii), (iii) and (iv). They are presented in the alternative. That is, a finding of the existence of the circumstances in any one of the four descriptions will qualify such circumstances as evidence that a disputed name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Passage 4(b)(iv) describes circumstances of particular pertinence to this case:
"(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your 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 your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location."
Complaint Annexes 6-8 are three web site printouts made on June 30, 2000. The Annex 6 and 7 printouts are for the site designated by the disputed domain name "workcamper.com". They are the earliest printouts in the record which relate to any of the disputed domain names. Annex 8 relates to a "camphosts.com" site accessed through a link provided on the Annex 7 page. The "camphosts.com" site also was controlled by Respondent.
These web pages were prepared by or for Respondent and are what Respondent intended them to be at a time before Respondent was contacted by Complainant's attorney to object to the disputed domain names. As such these Annexes provide reliable objective evidence as to the expected consequences of Respondent's registration and use of the names.
As explained earlier, the "workcamper.com" domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant's registered WORKAMPER and WORKAMPER NEWS trademarks. Such marks had long been known to Respondent Suard. By nevertheless using the "workcamper.com" domain name to lead Internet users to the Annex 6 site, Respondent created a likelihood of confusion as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Annex 6 site or the services offered on the site.
The content of Annex 6 confirms the attempt to create confusion. Although Respondent had long known of Complainant's marks and services relating to the listing of jobs at camp grounds, the banner line of Annex 6 features "WorkCamper.com" in a passage which means that it designates the existing resource for park owners and potential workers: ""WorkCampers.com" ... the online resource for park owners and camp hosts." In the June 2000 time period, it was Complainant's "workamper.com" site that addressed such interests online.
Complaint Annex 6 also presents promotional material with respect to the Snug Harbor camping facility with which Respondent Nicky Suard is affiliated. The presentation of such material in association with the confusingly similar domain name "workcamper.com" creates an erroneous impression that the owner of the known marks WORKAMPER and WORKAMPER NEWS is somehow connected with or endorses the Snug Harbor facility.
Complaint Annex 7 came later in the day on June 30, 2000. It reflects a number of changes in the "workcamper.com" web site while continuing to promote Snug Harbor. In the Panel's view, the changes enhance the likelihood of confusion with Complainant. One passage indicates that job listings will begin later but "[I]n the meantime" the reader might want to check out a different site called "workamper news". This, of course, refers to Complainant, increasing the likelihood of confusion as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the web site bearing the confusingly similar domain name. The provision in Annex 7 of a link to a "Workcamper News site" aggravates the likelihood of confusion as to the relationship between the owner of WORKAMPER NEWS and the owner of the Annex 7 web site.
In addition to promoting Snug Harbor and providing a link to a Snug Harbor site, Annex 7 provides a link to Respondent's "camphosts.com" site. Complainant's use of that link on June 30, 2000, led to the site exemplified by Complaint Annex 8. It invites listings from park owners and prospective workers. Thus, it is evident that the "workcamper.com" domain name provided the first link in a chain leading directly to a service operated by Respondent with a view to taking customers away from Complainant.
Annex 8 contains a disclaimer which might be recognized as referring to Complainant even though it does not use the correct title of Complainant's magazine Workamper News and does not refer to the related "workamper.com" web site. It reads "Note: We are not associated with the magazine 'Workamping'. We are RVers and park owners who wanted this service online for quicker and less expensive work/park employment placements." The Panel has doubts about the actual effectiveness of disclaimers even when they are carefully and conscientiously phrased, because one cannot be confident that all consumers will read and understand them. One who has a desire to avoid confusion has available the more certain course of simply avoiding use of confusingly similar designations, thereby eliminating the need for explanations which may or may not be read and understood. In the present case, Respondent has not offered proofs of the effectiveness of any of its disclaimers.
Moreover, it has been recognized in the law of unfair competition that merely rectifying an initial state of confusion may not be enough. A recent case in Respondent's home state of California discusses the problem of "initial interest confusion" and finds it actionable. Brookfield Communications Inc. v. West Coast Entertainment Corp., 174 F. 3d 1036, 1062, (9th Cir. 1999) The Panel believes this type of confusion is relevant as well to the resolution of the present administrative proceeding.
Pages 16 and 17 of the Response position these early web sites in the context of a subjective desire of Respondent to not be associated with Complainant:
"In an effort to make sure web surfers would not associate Respondents web sites with Complainants’, Respondent, in good faith, began to provide links to Complainants web site, and to post on the main page of each site phrases such as ‘not associated with any other magazine or job posting web site’. Note this was done well before any attorney representing Complainants contacted Respondent. Respondent also did not want to be associated with Complainants site because the function, look and purpose would be greatly different."
Later uses of the disputed domain names have resulted in other and different web sites. These appear to have been shaped at least to some extent by correspondence between Respondent and Complainants’ attorney. Page 17 of the Response says the later web sites removed unauthorized links to Complainants’ web sites and unauthorized use of "workamper" and "Workamper News" at the request of Complainants’ attorney. This portion of the Response also indicates that "if an enquirer would ask about Workamper News, we always made sure they knew we were not related." About four such enquiries were reported over a six month period, according to Respondent.
In spite of Respondent’s insistence that she has never wanted her job listing operations to be associated with Complainants’ operations, it is clear that Respondent’s disputed domain names are confusingly similar to Complainants’ marks and that Respondent’s program for using those confusingly similar domain names inevitably creates a likelihood of confusion with respect to source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the web sites they designate and/or with respect to the services promoted on such sites.
The Panel therefore finds that the circumstances described in Section 4(b)(iv) of the Policy were present in this case. The Panel also finds that the presence of the Section 4(b)(iv) circumstances justifies a further finding that the disputed domain names have been registered and are being used in bad faith in the sense of Section 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
Rights and Legitimate Interests
In evaluating whether, in the sense of Policy Section 4(a)(ii), Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names, the Panel refers to Section 4(c) of the Policy. That section describes without limitation three circumstances which, if proved by the evidence, would demonstrate a respondent’s rights or legitimate interests for purposes of Section 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
Respondent’s contention (E) does not address directly any of the three circumstances described in Section 4(c) of the Policy. Instead Respondent denies "any intent to use disputed domain names for any unlawful purpose or for the purpose of being misleading or confusing to others." Response, p. 14. A Statement offered as being subject to perjury penalties is provided to confirm that Ms. Suard believed she was acting in good faith.
However, the Panel believes that the Policy is not intended to rest a determination as to a registrant’s rights or legitimate interests on the registrant’s personal beliefs with respect to what is proper conduct. That is, merely believing that a first come – first served approach excuses the registration of a confusingly similar domain name is simply not enough under the Policy. Nor does the Policy attach any significance to a Domain Name Registrar’s statements as to what domain names are available for registration (in the sense that they are not already the subject of existing registrations). Similarly, the Policy does not indicate that the question of whether a registrant has rights or legitimate interests is to be affected by the existence of other registered domain names that appear to be similar to other adversely owned trademarks.
The Panel finds that none of the circumstances described in Policy Section 4(c) has been proved to exist in the present case. Respondent knew of the close similarity of the disputed domain names to Complainants’ trademarks before Respondent made any preparations to use such names in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. Respondent has never been known by any of the disputed domain names. And, all of Respondent’s uses of the disputed domain names have a prospect of commercial gain associated with them, so that none fits the category described in Policy Section 4(c) for at least this reason.
Taking into account all of the available evidence, the Panel finds that Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names.
Reverse Domain Name Hijacking
Respondent’s contentions (F) and (G) challenge the propriety of Complainant’s action in filing the Complaint. These charges have been carefully considered by the Panel. However, the Panel finds that they are not justified. The Panel believes that the Complaint was brought in good faith and does not constitute an abuse of the administrative proceeding.
The Panel concludes (1) that each of the disputed domain names is confusingly similar to Complainants’ marks, (2) that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in any of these domain names, and (3) that Respondent registered and is using each of these domain names in bad faith.
Therefore, the Panel orders that each of the following domain names be transferred to Debbie Robus and Greg Robus, D/B/A/ WORKAMPER NEWS:
William L. Mathis
Dated: December 6, 2000