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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. v. Patsy Hail

Case No. D2008-1343

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. of Nutley, New Jersey, United States of America, represented by Lathrop & Gage L.C., United States of America.

The Respondent is Patsy Hail, Boaz of Alabama, United States of America.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <valium-no-prescription.info> is registered with Registrar Company, Inc.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 2, 2008. On September 3, 2008, the Center transmitted by email to Registrar Company, Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 4, 2008, Registrar Company, Inc. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. In response to a notification by the Center that the Complaint was administratively deficient, the Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on September 16, 2008. The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Rules”), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Supplemental Rules”).

In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on September 19, 2008. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 9, 2008. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 10, 2008.

The Center appointed William R. Towns as the sole panelist in this matter on October 17, 2008. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with the Rules, paragraph 7.

4. Factual Background

The Complainant manufactures and sells pharmaceutical and diagnostic products, including diazepam, a physiotherapeutic agent for the treatment of anxiety, marketed by the Complainant under the VALIUM trademark. The VALIUM mark has been used in commerce since as early as 1961, and the Complainant is the owner of the United States trademark registration for VALIUM. The Complainant’s parent company, F. Hoffman-La Roche AG, owns the domain name <valium.com>, which resolves to the Complainant’s website at “www.rocheusa.com/products”, where Internet visitors can obtain information about the Complainant’s VALIUM product.

The Respondent registered the disputed domain name <valium-no-prescription.info> on March 22, 2008. The domain name resolves to a website that prominently displays the Complainant’s VALIUM mark and features advertising links to various online locations purportedly offering for sale the Complainant’s VALIUM products as well as other related pharmaceutical products.1 This includes a link to “www.pharmacy-4us.com” placed immediately below the prominent display of the Complainant’s mark. The “www.pharmacy-4us.com” website contains advertising links to various online stores and pharmacies offering for sale the Complainant’s VALIUM products or the generic equivalent diazepam, as well as other related pharmaceutical products. The Respondent’s website also features a number of “related links” with descriptions such as: “buy valium in the UK”, “cheap valium no prescription”, buy valium in Australia”, and “herbal valium substitutes”.

After learning of the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name, the Complainant through its counsel on May 16, 2008, sent a cease and desist letter to the Respondent by certified mail, email, and fax, using the contact information for the Respondent in the registrar’s WhoIs database. The certified mail letter was returned to the Complainant’s counsel as “unclaimed”, the email was returned as “undeliverable”, and the attempt to send the cease and desist letter using the fax number provided in the WhoIs database was unsuccessful as well.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its VALIUM mark, which the Complainant asserts has acquired fame and celebrity. The Complaint disputes that the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. According to the Complainant, the Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name and is not authorized to use the Complainant’s mark. The Complainant maintains that the Respondent’s unauthorized use of its VALIUM mark to market competing products alone or in conjunction with the Complainant’s VALIUM products does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services, and that the Respondent cannot claim to be making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name.

The Complainant asserts that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. According to the Complainant, the Respondent’s bad faith is established by the intentional use of a confusingly similar domain name to divert Internet users to the Respondent’s website, where a further unauthorized and infringing use of the Complainant’s mark is made to solicit sales of both VALIUM products and other pharmaceutical products, either directly or through pay-per-click links to online pharmacies.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Scope of the Policy

The Policy is addressed to resolving disputes concerning allegations of abusive domain name registration and use. Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation v. Bay Verte Machinery, Inc. d/b/a The Power Tool Store, WIPO Case No. D2002-0774. Accordingly, the jurisdiction of this Panel is limited to providing a remedy in cases of “the abusive registration of domain names”, also known as “cybersquatting”. Weber-Stephen Products Co. v. Armitage Hardware, WIPO Case No. D2000-0187. See Report of the WIPO Internet Domain Name Process, paragraphs 169 and 170.

Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules provides that the Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any other rules or principles of law that the Panel deems applicable.

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that the Complainant prove each of the following three elements to obtain a decision that a domain name should be either cancelled or transferred:

(i) The domain name registered by the Respondent 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 interests with respect to the domain name; and

(iii) The domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

Cancellation or transfer of the domain names are the sole remedies provided to the Complainant under the Policy, as set forth in paragraph 4(i).

Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy sets forth four situations under which the registration and use of a domain name is deemed to be in bad faith, but does not limit a finding of bad faith to only these situations.

Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy in turn identifies three means through which a respondent may establish rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. Although the complainant bears the ultimate burden of establishing all three elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, panels have recognized that this could result in the often impossible task of proving a negative, requiring information that is primarily if not exclusively within the knowledge of the respondent. Thus, the consensus view is that paragraph 4(c) shifts the burden to the respondent to come forward with evidence of a right or legitimate interest in the domain name, once the complainant has made a prima facie showing. See, e.g., Document Technologies, Inc. v. International Electronic Communications Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0270.

B. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel finds that the disputed domain name <valium-no-prescription.info> is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s VALIUM mark for purposes of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy. The critical inquiry under the first element of the Policy is whether the mark and domain name, when directly compared, are identical or confusingly similar. Because the disputed domain name incorporates the Complainant’s VALIUM mark in its entirety, this alone is sufficient to support a finding that the domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s mark for purposes of the Policy. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Richard MacLeod d/b/a For Sale, WIPO Case No. D2000-0662. In the context of this case, the addition of the words “no prescription” does not dispel the confusing similarity arising from the incorporation of the Complainant’s distinctive VALIUM mark, and in the Panel’s view may well serve to compound the confusing similarity.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

C. Rights or Legitimate Interests

As noted above, once the Complainant makes a prima facie showing under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, paragraph 4(c) shifts the burden to the Respondent to come forward with evidence of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel is persuaded from the record of this case that a prima facie showing under paragraph 4(a)(ii) has been made. It is uncontested that the Respondent has not been authorized to use the Complainant’s VALIUM mark on the Respondent’s website or to appropriate the mark for use as a domain name, and there is no indication that the Respondent has ever been commonly known by the domain name. Nevertheless, the Respondent is using the disputed domain name to divert Internet users to the Respondent’s website, which contains links to various online locations purportedly offering for sale the Complainant’s VALIUM products as well as other competing or related pharmaceutical products. Such links serve no apparent purpose other than as a vehicle for generating advertising revenue.

Pursuant to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, the Respondent may establish rights to or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name by demonstrating any of the following:

(i) before any notice to it of the dispute, the respondent’s use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or

(ii) the respondent has been commonly known by the domain name, even if it has acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or

(iii) the respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.

The Respondent has not submitted a formal response to the Complaint, and in the absence of any such submission this Panel may accept all reasonable inferences and allegations included in the Complaint as true. See Talk City, Inc. v. Michael Robertson, WIPO Case No. D2000-0009.2 In any event, the Panel has carefully reviewed the record in this case, and finds nothing therein that would bring the Respondent’s registration and use of the disputed domain name within any of the safe harbors of paragraph 4(c) of the Policy.

There is no indication in the record that the Respondent has been commonly known by the disputed domain name. Given the presence on the Respondent’s website of advertising links to online stores and pharmacies, and other links bearing descriptions such as “buy valium online free prescription”, “buy valium in the UK”, “cheap valium no prescription”, “buy valium in Australia”, and “herbal valium substitutes”, the Respondent cannot credibly claim to be making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name within the contemplation of paragraph 4(c)(iii) of the Policy. See Coventa Energy Corporation v. Anthony Mitchell, WIPO Case No. D2007-0185 (respondent must demonstrate that the domain name is being used without intent for commercial gain in order to successfully invoke paragraph 4(c)(iii) of the Policy). As noted above, such links serve no apparent purpose other than as a vehicle for generating advertising revenue.

The Respondent is using the disputed domain name in connection with a website characterized by numerous advertising links that clearly are related to the Complainant’s VALIUM mark. While the use of a domain name consisting of a “dictionary” word for third-party advertising may be legitimate in some circumstances, see, e.g., The Landmark Group v. DigiMedia.com, L.P., NAF Claim No. FA0285459, the Complainant’s VALIUM mark clearly is not a “dictionary” word. Given the circumstances reflected in the record here, and in the absence of any reply by the Respondent to the Complaint, the Panel finds that the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name with a website containing advertising links keyed to the Complainant’s well-known VALIUM mark does not constitute use of the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services within the meaning of paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy. See, e.g., Sanofi-Aventis and Merrell Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Smart Med Pharmacy, WIPO Case No. D2006-1113. See also HSBC Finance Corporation v. Clear Blue Sky Inc. and Domain Manager, WIPO Case No. D2007-0062.3

Accordingly, the Panel concludes that the Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy states that any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, shall be considered evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:

(i) circumstances indicating that the respondent registered or acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant (the owner of the trademark or service mark) or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or

(ii) circumstances indicating that the respondent registered 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; or

(iii) circumstances indicating that the respondent registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) circumstances indicating that the respondent intentionally is using the domain name in an attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website 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 respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on its website or location.

The examples of bad faith registration and use set forth in paragraph 4(b) of the Policy are not meant to be exhaustive of all circumstances from which such bad faith may be found. See Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003. The overriding objective of the Policy is to curb the abusive registration of domain names in circumstances where the registrant is seeking to profit from and exploit the trademark of another. Match.com, LP v. Bill Zag and NWLAWS.ORG, WIPO Case No. D2004-0230.

The Respondent’s bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name is palpable from the record in this case. It is an inescapable inference from the circumstances in the record that the Respondent knew of and had in mind the Complainant and the Complainant’s VALIUM mark when registering the disputed domain name. Under such circumstances, the Respondent’s opportunistic use of the disputed domain name to drive Internet traffic to its website in order to generate either advertising revenue or product sales, by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the Respondent’s website, clearly constitutes bad faith registration and use under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy. See, e.g., Sanofi-Aventis and Merrell Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Smart Med Pharmacy, supra. See also Columbia Insurance, Company. and Benjamin Moore v. Whois Data Shield and St Kitts Registry, WIPO Case No. D2007-0741; Chicago Pneumatic Tool Company LLC v. Tool Gopher, WIPO Case No. D2007-0330. Beyond question, the Respondent has sought to profit from and exploit the Complainant’s mark in violation of the Policy.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

7. Decision

For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the domain name <valium-no-prescription.info> be transferred to the Complainant.


William R. Towns
Sole Panelist

Dated: October 31, 2008


1 The Respondent’s website also displays information purportedly relating to the Complainant’s VALIUM products, but frequently uses the Complainant’s VALIUM mark without distinquishing it from the generic product name diazepam, under which some directly competing products are sold over the Internet.

2 Some panels have held that a respondent’s lack of response can be construed as an admission that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name. See, e.g., Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, WIPO Case No. D2000-0624. Other panel decisions note that adverse inferences may be drawn from a respondent’s failure to reply. See, e.g., Charles Jourdan Holding AG v. AAIM, WIPO Case No. D2000-0403.

3 Even were the Panel to consider the Respondent to occupy the position of an unauthorized reseller of the Complainant’s VALIUM products, the Respondent could not establish rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name because the Respondent’s website does not accurately disclose the Respondent’s relationship with the Complainant and is not limited only to the sale of the Complainant’s trademarked goods. See Oki Data Americas, Inc. v. ASD, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2001-0903.

 

Источник информации: https://www.internet-law.ru/intlaw/udrp/2008/d2008-1343.html

 

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