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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Quotesmith.com Inc. v. James Noble (Domain For Sale.com)
Case No. D2000-1088
1. The Parties
Complainant is Quotesmith.com Inc. ("Complainant" or "Quotesmith.com"), a Delaware corporation with a principle place of business at 8205 South Cass Avenue, Suite 102, Darien, Illinois 60561, U.S.A. and represented by Andrew L. Goldstein, Esq. and Steven O. Schnack, Esq. of Freeborn & Peters, Chicago, Illinois 60606, U.S.A.
According to the Registrar of the domain name at issue, Respondent is DomainForSale.com, represented by an individual listed as James Noble, with address P.O. Box 7460, Shrewsbury, New Jersey 07702, U.S.A.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The domain name is dispute is: "quote-smith.com"
The registrar is: Alabanza, Inc., d/b/a BulkRegister.com, Inc., 7 East Redwood Street, 3rd Floor, Baltimore, Maryland 21202, U.S.A.
3. Procedural History
The WIPO Arbitration & Mediation Center (the "Center") received a copy of Quotesmith.com’s Complaint by e-mail on August 17, 2000, and a hard copy on August 21, 2000. The Center requested verification from the Registrar on August 24, 2000, and received such verification on August 24, 2000. The Center verified that the Complaint met the formal requirements of the ICANN Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Policy") and the Supplemental Rules of the Policy and then determined, in accordance with Paragraph 4 (c) of the Policy that the formal date for the commencement of the administrative proceeding and notification of the Complaint was August 29, 2000. The Center repeatedly notified or sought to notify Respondent of the Complaint, but received no response of any kind. On September 25, 2000, the Center issued a Respondent Default Notification.
On October 26, 2000, the Center notified that the undersigned had been appointed as the Sole Panelist to decide this matter.
No further communications were received from the parties, or solicited by the Panelist.
4. Factual Background and Parties’ Contentions
A. Factual Background
Complainant is an Internet-based insurance price comparison service by which consumers obtain immediate comparative quote for insurance coverage. Complainant owns at least the following U.S.-registered trademarks:
1. QUOTESMITH for price comparison services in the field of insurance, annuities and medicare supplements; and distributing information via a global computer network; and newsletters and brochures in the field of insurance, annuities and medical supplement insurance, Reg. N° 2307284; Reg. Date 1/11/00.
2. QUOTESMITH CORPORATION and Design for price comparison services in the field of insurance, annuities and medicare supplement insurance; and distributing such information via a global computer network; and newsletters and brochures in the field of insurance, annuities and medicare supplement insurance, Reg. N° 2307281; Reg. Date 1/11/00.
3. QUOTESMITH.COM for price comparison services in the field of insurance, annuities and medicare supplements; and distributing such information via a global computer network, Reg. N° 2352094; Reg. Date 5/23/00.
Complainant registered the domain name quotesmith.com in April 1996, and avers that it has maintained an active website at www.quotesmith.com in conjunction with provision of its services since May 1996.
It appears from the Complaint that the disputed domain name was registered by Respondent on March 31, 2000. Respondent’s website, www.domainforsale.com, reveals that, as its name implies, it is in the business of selling and trading in domain names. Complainant also submits a declaration of its agent, Ken Taylor, to the effect that he spoke to James Noble, the listed administrative and technical contact of Respondent on or about August 3, 2000. According to the sworn declaration of Ken Taylor, Mr. Noble confirmed that Respondent owned the disputed domain name, and stated that it had been registered on behalf of a client who intended to set up a website to perform quoting services. But when Mr. Taylor enquired if the site was for sale, Mr. Noble replied it was, and then quoted a sale price of US$ 9,500. On August 3, 2000, Complainant’s counsel served a letter on Respondent which demanded that Respondent transfer the disputed domain name at cost, failing which Complainant would initiate proceedings under the Policy; Respondent did not reply.
B. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant alleges, in essence, that Respondent is a "cybersquatter" in the business of selling domain names; that the disputed domain name is identical and confusingly similar to Complainant’s family of trademarks; that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in, and is not making or planning any valid use of the disputed domain name; that Respondent’s activities and offer to sell the disputed domain name demonstrate the bad faith registration and use thereof.
Respondent has not answered the Complaint or sent in any communications in this proceeding.
5. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4 (a) of the Policy directs that Complainant must prove each of the following: (i) that the domain name complained of is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; (ii) that Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in respect of the domain name; and (iii) that the domain name in dispute has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identity or Confusing Similarity
The disputed domain name is clearly identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s marks. The insertion of a hyphen between "Quote" and "Smith" is a deliberately de minimus variation which does not change the sound, connotation or sense of the words in question.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
There is nothing in the record of this matter, which would indicate that Respondent has rights or a legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. Respondent is not known by a name similar to the disputed domain name. There is no indication in the record that Respondent is making any legitimate non-commercial or other use of the disputed domain name - which name currently resolves to an inactive web page, i.e. an internet dead end. There is, on the other hand, substantial evidence that Respondent is engaged in "cybersquatting". The Panel concludes that Respondent has no legitimate rights in the disputed domain name.
C. Bad Faith
Complainant has submitted convincing evidence that Respondent registered "quote-smith.com", and numerous other domain names, for the purpose of listing and/or selling them through Respondent’s "DomainsForSale.com" website, which website contains lists of domain names for sale, and solicits offers for the same.
Complainant has furthermore submitted a sworn declaration of an agent of Complainant that Respondent offered to sell the disputed domain name for US$ 9,500, which is obviously significantly in excess of any out of pocket costs related to the registration of the disputed domain name. Furthermore, as Complainant has properly pointed out, the statement of Respondent that it had registered the name on behalf of a third party which intended to go into the quotation business is inconsistent with Respondent’s immediately subsequent offer to sell the disputed domain name to Complainant.
The evidence on the record in this case well supports a finding that Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith within the meaning of, inter alia, Paragraph 4 (b) (i) of the Policy, and this Panel so finds. See e.g. Blue Sky Software Corp. v. Digital Sierra Inc. and Abdullah Khan, Case N° D2000-0165
The Panel concludes that: (a) the domain name "quote-smith.com" is identical or confusingly similar to marks in which Complainant has rights; (b) that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in said domain name; and (c) that Respondent registered and used that domain name in bad faith. Therefore, pursuant to Paragraph 4 (i) of the Policy, the Panel orders that the domain name "quote-smith.com" be transferred to Complainant, Quotesmith.com Inc.
Nicolas C. Ulmer
Dated: November 9, 2000