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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
National Children’s and Youth Law Centre v. LanLA Communications
Case No. D2001-0676
1. The Parties
Complainant: National Children’s and Youth Law Centre
University of New South Wales
Sydney NSW 2052
Respondent: LanLA Communications
269 South Beverly Drive #425
Beverly Hills, California 90212
United States of America
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
Domain Name: <lawstuff.org>
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was received by WIPO by email on May 21, 2001, and in hardcopy form on May 28, 2001. WIPO has verified that the Complaint satisfies the formal requirements of the Policy, the Rules and the Supplemental Rules and that payment was properly made. The Administrative Panel ("the Panel") is satisfied that this is the case.
The Complaint was properly notified in accordance with the Rules, paragraph 2(a). The Registrar has confirmed that <lawsuff.org> ("the Domain Name") was registered through BulkRegister.com and that LanLA Communications ("the Respondent") is the current registrant. The Registrar has further confirmed that the Policy is applicable to the Domain Name.
On May 29, 2001, WIPO notified the Respondent of the Complaint in the usual manner and informed the Respondent inter alia that the last day for sending its Response to the Complainant and to WIPO was June 17, 2001. No Response was received.
On June 17, 2001, WIPO issued a Notification of Respondent Default.
The Panel was properly constituted. The undersigned Panelist submitted a Statement of Acceptance and a Declaration of Impartiality and Independence.
No further submissions having been received by WIPO, the date scheduled for the issuance of the Panel’s Decision is July 11, 2001.
4. Factual Background
The Complaint says very little about the Complainant. It appears to be an organization housed at the University of South Wales which, since 1997, has administered a well-known (in Australia) website at "www.lawstuff.org.au" providing a simple guide for young people about aspects of the law which might affect them.
The Complainant is the registered proprietor of an Australian service mark for a words and device mark of which the most prominent element is the word "Lawstuff". Other text forming part of the mark reads "Know your rights …. Lawstuff – the website with a whole bunch of stuff about legal rights for people under 18". The mark is a service mark registered in classes 38, 41 and 42 for inter alia telecommunications services, education services and legal services.
Quite apart from the registered service mark referred to above, it is manifest from what the Complainant has exhibited to the Complaint that its web service to young people is very well-known in Australia under and by reference to the name "Lawstuff".
In January the Complainant was short-listed for a Cable and Wireless Childnet Award and the award and the shortlist were publicized at "www.childnet-int.org" and by a worldwide press release.
According to the Complainant (and this has not been contradicted by the Respondent) the Respondent registered the Domain Name on February 22, 2001. The Respondent has connected the Domain Name to various pornographic websites such as "www.allpetite.com" and "www.medcrit.com".
Between March and May 2001, the parties have been in correspondence. The Complainant wrote to the Respondent demanding that the Respondent cease using the Domain Name for pornographic material. The Respondent claimed that it had withdrawn the site and demanded $295 compensation. The Complainant refused to pay and further correspondence ensued with the Respondent continuing from time to time to link the Domain Name to pornographic sites. Ultimately the parties agreed terms for transfer of the Domain Name at $150, but the Respondent declined to execute the Deed of transfer sent to it by the Complainant’s lawyers.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Complaint should succeed for the following reasons:
· The Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s name and registered service mark, the principal element of which is the name "Lawstuff".
· The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. It is not the Respondent’s name. The Respondent has never used it other than to link it to other sites using other domain names. The name has no obvious connection with any of the sites to which it is connected.
· The Domain Name was registered in bad faith and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant points to the pornographic nature of the sites to which the Domain Name is linked. The Complainant asks the Panel to infer that the timing of the announcement of the shortlist of the Cable and Wireless Award and the registration the following month of the Domain Name was not accidental. The Complainant states that because the Domain Name links to sites wholly unsuited to the Complainant’s audience, the Complainant has cut back on its promotion of its award nomination. The Complainant contends that the Respondent is deliberately seeking to cause damage to the Complainant and the children seeking access to the Complainant’s site. Finally, the Complainant points to the inter-partes correspondence in which the Respondent seeks compensation in excess of its out-of-pocket expenses and in which, according to the Complainant, the Respondent reneges on its promises.
The Respondent has not responded.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that
(i) The Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in respect of the Domain Name; and
(iii) The Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Identical or confusing similarity
The Complainant’s trade/service mark rights in the mark Lawstuff are clear. It is the name and common law trademark by which the Complainant’s service is known and recognized in Australia and it is the principal element of the registered mark. The Domain Name comprises the name "lawstuff" and the generic <.org> suffix.
The Panel holds that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a service mark in which the Complainant has rights.
Rights or legitimate interest of the Respondent
The Respondent has not disputed the Complainant’s claim that the Domain Name is the Complainant’s name. The Respondent has made no attempt to demonstrate whether by reference to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy or otherwise that it has rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. There is nothing before the Panel to indicate why the Respondent might claim to have rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
The Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in respect of the Domain Name.
While the Panel notes the Complainant’s concerns and understands the Complainant’s anger at the way the Respondent appears to have behaved in the course of the negotiations, there is no basis for a bad faith finding under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy in this case.
A Complaint under the Policy cannot get off the ground unless at the very least the Respondent had the Complainant or its trade/service mark in mind when effecting the registration of the Domain Name and/or commencing the offending use. The Complainant relies upon the fact that the Domain name was registered a few weeks after the announcement that the Complainant’s service had been shortlisted for an award in a press release and on "www.childnet-int.org". The Panel can see no obvious reason why a pornographer in Los Angeles should have come across the announcement via those media. The Panel is not prepared to make that assumption without some other evidence.
The fact that the Respondent has sought sums for the transfer of the Domain Name in excess of the Respondent’s out-of-pocket expenses is proof of nothing in a case such as this where (a) the Respondent made no approach to the Complainant, (b) there is nothing apart from the Domain name itself to show that the Respondent might have been aware of the Complainant’s service when registering it, and (c) the name is not so famous outside Australia as to make the inference an obvious one that a Los Angeles pornographer would have come across it.
Had the Complainant proved to the satisfaction of the Panel that the Domain Name had been registered with the Complainant in mind, the Panel would have had no difficulty in finding bad faith registration and use of the Domain Name.
As it is, the Panel finds that the Complainant has failed to prove that the Domain Name was registered in bad faith.
The Complaint is dismissed.
Dated: July 2, 2001