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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Christie’s Inc. v. Nicholas Stirpe
Case No. D2001-0044
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Christie’s Inc., a New York corporation whose principal place is at 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, New York 10020, USA. The Complainant is represented by Perla M. Kuhn of Hughes, Hubbard & Reed, LLP of One Battery Park Plaza, New York, NY 10004, USA.
The Respondent is an individual named Nicholas Stirpe of 5037 Mt. Pleasant Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89113. He has an alternative address at 5250 S. Rainbow 1038, Las Vegas, NV 89118. His e-mail addresses are "stockrat@SKYLINK.NET" and "firstname.lastname@example.org."
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The domain names at issue are "christiesimages.net," and "christiesimages.org" The Registrar of the domain names is Network Solutions, Inc. of 505 Huntmar Park Drive, Herndon, Virginia 20170, USA.
3. Procedural History
This dispute is to be resolved in accordance with the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the Policy) and Rules (the Rules) approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on October 24, 1999, and the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center’s (the Center) Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution (the Supplemental Rules).
The complaint was filed with the Center on January 10, 2001, and assigned the case number D2001-0044. The Center verified that the complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Policy, in accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Rules and paragraph 5 of the Supplemental Rules. The Administrative Panelist ("Panelist") is satisfied that the complaint satisfied the Rules and Supplemental Rules.
Notification of the complaint and commencement of the administrative proceedings was given to the Respondent by notice dated January 15, 2001. The notification was sent by email to the Respondent at the two email addresses noted above. The hard copy of the document was also transmitted by courier and the Panel has seen the courier receipt. The Panel is satisfied that the Center satisfied the Rules and the Supplemental Rules with regard to notification. No response was received by the expiry of the twenty-day deadline on February 3, 2001. Notification of the Respondent’s default was given on February 9, 2001, by fax sent to the Respondent on fax number 702-365-8209, by email at the two addresses given in the complaint, by courier and by post. The Panel has seen a copy of the courier acknowledgement and postal receipt. The Panel is therefore satisfied that the notification of the Respondent’s default was effectively given.
The Panel was properly constituted. The undersigned Panelist submitted a Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence.
The Panel has not received any requests from Complainant or Respondent regarding further submissions, waivers, or extensions of deadlines. The Panel has not found it necessary to request any further information from the parties, as a consequence of which the date scheduled for the issuance of the Panel’s decision is March 9, 2001.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is the auction house "Christie’s." Founded in 1766, Christie’s is the oldest fine art auction house still in existence. Christie’s currently offers goods in over 80 separate categories. Christie’s is a worldwide operation with 119 representative offices, including 16 selling Centers, in 41 countries. In the Americas, Christie’s has three principal sale locations, two in New York and a Los Angeles salesroom, as well as 23 regional offices throughout the United States.
The proprietor of the registration for the mark "Christie’s" is not the Complainant but is a company called Christie, Manson, and Woods International Inc., which have assigned the marks to the Complainant. The Complainant also provided evidence of a number of United States trademark registrations incorporating the mark "Christie’s." The Complainant does not explain why these marks are vested in Christies, Manson and Woods International Inc., rather than the Complainant. The Panel takes notice of the assignment and accepts the association between the Complainant and Christies, Manson and Wood International Inc.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends:
(i) The domain name registered by the Respondent is either identical or confusingly similar to the trademarks in which the Complainant has rights.
(ii) There is no evidence that the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interest in the domain name.
(iii) The Respondent has registered and used the domain names "christiesimages.net," and "christiesimages.org" in bad faith.
In the absence of a response from the Respondent, there are, of course, no submissions to counter the Complainant’s submissions. The Panel, therefore, has no alternative but to determine the case on the basis of the Complainant’s submissions only and to determine whether the Complainant has established its complaint.
6. Discussion and Findings
(i) The domain name is identical or confusingly similar
The domain names in dispute are "christiesimages.net," and "christiesimages.org." There is no evidence that Respondent has any rights or legitimate interest in the domain names. For example, neither domain name is being used in any manner on the World Wide Web. Entering either domain name as a URL returns the "HTTP 404 – File not found" page. There is no evidence that Respondent is a licensee or otherwise permitted to use Complainant’s trademarks.
Complainant has for several decades successfully been using its invoked trademarks primarily in the areas of auctions and art. The domain names registered by Respondent consisting of the combined terms "christie’s," and "images," could be viewed as references to Christie’s business of selling art, which is displayed on the Internet using images of the art and other goods. The combination of Christie’s trademark and a descriptive term referring to Christie’s auction business results in domain names that are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks.
It is clear to the Panel that the domain names are confusingly similar to the trademarks registered and used by Complainant. The Complainant therefore succeeds in proving the first element.
(ii) The Respondent has no rights of legitimate interests in respect of the domain name.
The Respondent does not operate a business, have a corporate name, company, product, or services under the "ChristiesImages" name and has no rights to any trade names or registered trademarks including the name "ChristiesImages."
Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted Respondent to use any of its trademarks or to apply for any domain name incorporating any of those marks. Accordingly, there is no evidence proving that the Respondent has rights or a legitimate interest in the domain names.
By refusing to transfer the domain names knowing that he has no rights or legitimate interests in them, Respondent knowingly prolongs a situation, which is at odds with the legal rights of the parties involved and knowingly obstructs the registration of the domain names in the name of Complainant, and their subsequent use by Complainant.
The Panelist, therefore, concludes that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain names. Mere registration alone cannot constitute such rights. The Complainant therefore succeeds in proving the second element.
(iii) The domain names were registered and are being used in bad faith
The Respondent appears to have registered the domain names primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the Complainant, who is the owner of the trademarks or to a competitor of that Complainant for valuable consideration in excess of the Respondent’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain names. Respondent offered Complainant a long-term lease of the domain names for $1500.00 per month (which at the time also included the name "christiesimages.com," which Respondent since released), or a "one time purchase" price of $300,000.00.
There is also evidence that the Respondent has engaged in a pattern of cybersquatting conduct or has registered a series of domain names containing well-known trademarks for gain. The Complainant’s investigator’s report shows that the Respondent has a history of acquiring multiple domain name registrations that incorporate trademarks owned by others. A list of the domain names owned by Respondent and generated by a search of NSI’s directory on March 2, 2000, revealed that Respondent owned over forty domain name registrations, including the registrations at issue. Many of the registrations incorporate well-known trademarks that are the subject of federal registrations or applications.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has succeeded in proving that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
It follows that the Complainant has proved its three submissions in accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Rules, and that accordingly, the Complainant has succeeded in its complaint.
In light of the foregoing, the Administrative Panel decides that the Domain Names registered by Respondent are confusingly similar to the trademarks of Complainant, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names, and that the Respondent’s Domain Names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
Accordingly, pursuant to paragraph 4(i) of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, the Administrative Panel requires that registration of each of the following Domain Names be transferred to Complainant:
Timothy D. Casey
Dated: March 9, 2001