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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. v. Toronto Maple Leafs!
Case No. D2000-1510
This is a mandatory administrative proceeding submitted for decision in accordance with the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, adopted by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on August 26, 1999 (the "Policy"), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, approved by ICANN on October 24, 1999 (the "Rules") and the World Intellectual Property Organization ("WIPO") Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Supplemental Rules").
The Administrative Panel consisting of one member was appointed on January 10, 2001 by WIPO.
2. The Parties
The Complainant in this administrative proceeding is Maple Leaft Sports & Entertainment Ltd., a corporation that carries on business in Canada.
The Respondent in this Administrative Proceeding is Toronto Maple Leafs!, having an address in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
3. The Domain Name and Registrar
The Domain Name is <leafs.org>.
The Registrar is Network Solutions, Inc., 505 Huntmar Park Drive, Herndon, Virginia, 20170-5139, United States.
4. Jurisdiction and Related Matters
By registering the subject domain name with the Registrar, the Respondent agreed to the resolution of disputes pursuant to the Policy and Rules.
5. Procedural History
Complainant filed its Complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on November 2, 2000 by email and on November 7, 2000 by one original and four hard copies. The Center dispatched to the Registrar a Request for Registrar Verification on November 21, 2000. On November 30, 2000, having verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Policy and the Uniform Rules, the Center formally commenced this proceeding and notified the Respondent that its Response would be due by December 19, 2000. The Respondent did not file a response by the due date.
An examination of this material confirms that all technical requirements for the prosecution of this proceeding were met.
Neither party requested an opportunity to make further submissions and the Administrative Panel is content to proceed on the basis of the existing record.
6. Factual Background
The Complainant is the owner of a number of Canadian trade-marksfor use in association with various wares and services. Its trade-marks include "LEAFS" and "MAPLE LEAFS". The former was registered on November 18, 1994. In addition, the Complainant is using and intends to use its trade-marks for use in association with internet related activities, including web pages promoting its business interests and broadcasting hockey games and commentary via broadcast signals and internet transmissions.
The Complainant owns and operates the National Hockey League hockey team known as the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team plays its home games at the Complainant’s Air Canada Centre entertainment complex located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Complainant uses its trade-marks listed in association with wares and services identified with its Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team extensively in Canada and in the United States.
The Complainant also owns the web site <torontomapleleafs.com> which is devoted to promoting its Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team.
The Respondent registered the subject domain name on September 13, 1999.
The Respondent is not located at the address provided by it to the Registrar. The e-mail address provided by the Respondent to the Registrar does not contact the Respondent, or at least not ostensibly so.
7. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant relies on its registered marks and asserts that the subject domain name is identical to them. The Respondent has asserted no right to the subject domain name and has made no use of it. As to bad faith, the Complainant relies on the seemingly false contact information provided to the Registrar by the Respondent, the lack of a legitimate use and the identity between its marks and the subject domain name.
The Respondent has stated no position.
8. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires the Complainant to prove that:
i) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name;
iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(b) provides for the implication of evidence of bad faith in a number of circumstances:
i) circumstances that indicate that the Respondent has registered or has acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the Complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of the Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the Respondent’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name;
(ii) registration of 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 the Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct;
(iii) registration of the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor;
(iv) by using the domain name, intentionally attempting to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent’s 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 the web site or location or of a product or service on it or a location.
These are illustrative and do not represent the only circumstances from which may arise evidence of bad faith.
The resolution of this dispute takes place in the context of a consideration of the requirements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant owns a number of trade marks which use the word "leafs". But for the addition of .org, the subject domain name is identical to the Complainant’s mark.
The Administrative Panel finds that the Complainant has met the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i).
B. Respondent’s Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has made no use of the subject domain name. Although it has provided an address and contact particulars to the Registrar, it is questionable whether the information is legitimate. These facts raise an inference that the Respondent has no legitimate interests in the subject domain name.
The Respondent claims no right to use the subject domain name.
The Administrative Panel finds that the Complainant has met the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii).
C. Bad Faith
In this case, the evidence relied on to support a conclusion of bad faith is very slight. In domain name disputes, it is usual for a Complainant to show that it has made a demand on a Respondent or to adduce some evidence of the use of the subject domain name by the Respondent.
In this case the Complainant asserts:
"The Respondent has: (a) intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, internet users to its domain name by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trade-marks as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of its domain name; and/or (b) made use of the [subject]domain name…with or without intent for commercial gain misleadingly so as to create a false association with the Complainant’s trade-marks."
The evidence to support this proposition is speculative at best.
In this case, the Complainant did attempt, without success, to contact the Respondent using the contact particulars available to it through the Registrar. The fact that those particulars appear not to be accurate is some evidence from which a bad faith registration can be inferred.
In addition, the provision by the Respondent of a fictitious street address, which is identical to that of the Complainant, adds weight to the inference. Although there is no evidence of actual use of the subject domain name by the Respondent, a Complainant is not obliged to wait until harm occurs before seeking relief. The provision by the Respondent of the identical address also supports an inference that bad faith use is likely.
In the absence of some explanation by the Respondent, considering the evidence as a whole, the Administrative Panel is satisfied that the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) are met.
Based on its findings and the evidence overall, the Administrative Panel concludes that the Complainant has established its case. The Complainant asks that the subject domain name be transferred to it.
The Administrative Panel so orders.
Edward C. Chiasson, Q.C.
Dated: January 24, 2001