#BiggerHammer .com : A 2014 #trademark ruled over a 2003 #domain name!

The domain BiggerHammer.com was registered in 2003, and in 2018 a company used a trademark registered in 2014 to take it from its registrant.

Complainant is B.H.P.S. Corp. dba “Bigger Hammer” that asserted trademark rights in BIGGER HAMMER and alleged that the disputed domain name is identical to its trademark.

The domain name was parked and displayed – what else – ads for hammers.

BiggerHammer.com through the years – Screenshots.com

The sole panelist at the National Arbitration Forum, Debrett G. Lyons, delivered a finding favoring the Complainant, and ordered the domain BiggerHammer.com to be transferred to the Complainant.

Full details of this decision follow:

B.H.P.S. Corp. v. Domain Vault / Domain Vault LLC

Claim Number: FA1810001810406

PARTIES

Complainant is B.H.P.S. Corp. (“Complainant”), represented by Jeffrey M. Rosenfeld of KRONENBERGER ROSENFELD, LLP, California, USA. Respondent is Domain Vault / Domain Vault LLC (“Respondent”), Texas, USA.

REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME

The domain name at issue is <biggerhammer.com>, registered with Name.com, Inc.

PANEL

The undersigned certifies that he has acted independently and impartially and to the best of his knowledge has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding.

Debrett G. Lyons as Panelist.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Complainant submitted a Complaint to the Forum electronically on October 4, 2018; the Forum received payment on October 4, 2018.

On October 5, 2018, Name.com, Inc. confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <biggerhammer.com> domain name is registered with Name.com, Inc. and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Name.com, Inc. has verified that Respondent is bound by the Name.com, Inc. registration agreement and has thereby agreed to resolve domain disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”).

On October 9, 2018, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint, setting a deadline of October 29, 2018 by which Respondent could file a Response to the Complaint, via e-mail to all entities and persons listed on Respondent’s registration as technical, administrative, and billing contacts, and to postmaster@biggerhammer.com. Also on October 9, 2018, the Written Notice of the Complaint, notifying Respondent of the e-mail addresses served and the deadline for a Response, was transmitted to Respondent via post and fax, to all entities and persons listed on Respondent’s registration as technical, administrative and billing contacts.

Having received no response from Respondent, the Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.

On November 2, 2018, pursuant to Complainant’s request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed Debrett G. Lyons as Panelist.

Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the “Panel”) finds that the Forum has discharged its responsibility under Paragraph 2(a) of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Rules”) “to employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice to Respondent” through submission of Electronic and Written Notices, as defined in Rule 1 and Rule 2. Therefore, the Panel may issue its decision based on the documents submitted and in accordance with the ICANN Policy, ICANN Rules, the Forum’s Supplemental Rules and any rules and principles of law that the Panel deems applicable, without the benefit of any response from Respondent.

RELIEF SOUGHT

Complainant requests that the domain name be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.

PARTIES’ CONTENTIONS

A. Complainant

Complainant asserts trademark rights in BIGGER HAMMER and alleges that the disputed domain name is identical to its trademark.

Complainant alleges that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

Complainant alleges that Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith.

B. Respondent

Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.

FINDINGS

The factual findings pertinent to the decision in this case are that:

1. Complainant owns United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) Reg. No. 4,620,439 registered October 14, 2014 for Bigger Hammer;

2. the disputed domain name was registered on October 3, 2003; and

3. there is no commercial agreement between the parties and Complainant has not authorized Respondent to use its trademark or to register any domain name incorporating its trademark.

DISCUSSION

Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs this Panel to “decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.”

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

(1) the domain name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and

(2) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and

(3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

In view of Respondent’s failure to submit a response, the Panel shall decide this administrative proceeding based on Complainant’s undisputed representations pursuant to paragraphs 5(f), 14(a) and 15(a) of the Rules and draw such inferences it considers appropriate pursuant to paragraph 14(b) of the Rules. The Panel is entitled to accept all reasonable allegations and inferences set forth in the Complaint as true unless the evidence is clearly contradictory.[i]

Identical and/or Confusingly Similar

Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy requires a two-fold enquiry—a threshold investigation into whether a complainant has rights in a trademark, followed by an assessment of whether the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to that trademark.

Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy does not distinguish between registered and unregistered trademark rights. It is well established by decisions under this Policy that a trademark registered with a national authority is evidence of trademark rights.[ii] Since Complainant evidences its registration of the trademark with the USPTO the Panel finds that it has shown trademark rights. The disputed domain name merely adds the top-level domain (“gTLD”) “.com” to the trademark and the Panel finds the disputed domain name to be legally identical to Complainant’s mark.[iii]

The Panel therefore finds that Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy. In doing so it notes that the date of registration of the disputed domain name predates by more than a decade Complainant’s registered trademark but that matter is customarily left for consideration under the remaining aspects of the Policy.

Rights or Legitimate Interests

Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy states that any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be proved, based on its evaluation of all evidence presented, shall demonstrate rights or legitimate interests to a domain name for purposes of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy:

(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your 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) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or

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

Complainant need only make out a prima facie case that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, after which the onus shifts to Respondent to rebut that case by demonstrating those rights or interests.[iv]

The publicly available WHOIS information for the registrant of the domain name, “Domain Vault / Domain Vault LLC”, does not provide any prima facie evidence that Respondent might be commonly known by the disputed domain name. There is no evidence that Respondent has any trademark rights. There has been no bona fide offering of goods or services or legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name. On the contrary, the evidence is that during the period 2003 to 2013 the domain name resolved to a landing page with links to various types of hammers; that from 2013 to 2018 there was no use and that recently the resolving website attempts to distribute malware in the form of a malicious version of the software, Adobe Flash.

The Panel finds that Complainant has made a prima facie case.[v] The onus shifts to Respondent to establish a legitimate interest in the domain name. In the absence of a Response, that prima facie case is not met and so Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or interests and so finds that Complainant has satisfied the second limb of the Policy.

Registration and Use in Bad Faith

Complainant must prove on the balance of probabilities both that the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith.

Further guidance on that requirement is found in paragraph 4(b) of the Policy, which sets out four circumstances, any one of which is taken to be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith if established.

The four specified circumstances are:

(i) circumstances indicating that the respondent has registered or 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 that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the respondent’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or

(ii) the respondent has 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 Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

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

(iv) by using the domain name, respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to respondent’s 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 the site or location.

The Panel finds that Respondent’s conduct falls under paragraph 4(b)(iv) above. None of the use described is good faith use. The prior use was most likely for commercial gain. The current use may be for commercial gain. Paragraph 4(b)(iv) is satisfied but for the fact that the registration of the domain name predates the registration of the trademark. Whilst paragraph 4(b)(iv) hinges on bad faith use and says nothing of registration, it is generally accepted that it is inappropriate to apply paragraph 4(b)(iv) in circumstances where there is manifestly no bad faith registration. However, in this case there is compelling evidence that Complainant has used the trademark since 1996. It is unnecessary for the Panel to consider fully Complainant’s claim to common law rights since it is enough for the Panel to note that there was sufficient public use of the trademark for the reasonable inference to arise that Respondent was aware of the trademark at the time of registration of the disputed domain name in 2003. Further, Complainant had an internet presence by that time at www.biggerhammer.org.

The Panel finds registration and use of the domain name in bad faith and so finds that Complainant has satisfied the third and final element of the Policy.[vi]

DECISION

Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.

Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <biggerhammer.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.

Debrett G. Lyons, Panelist

Dated: November 3, 2018

[i] See, for example, Vertical Solutions Mgmt., Inc. v. webnet-marketing, inc., FA 95095 (Forum Jul. 31, 2000) holding that the respondent’s failure to respond allows all reasonable inferences of fact in the allegations of the complaint to be deemed true; Talk City, Inc. v. Robertson, D2000-0009 (WIPO Feb. 29, 2000) (“In the absence of a response, it is appropriate to accept as true all allegations of the Complaint.”)

[ii] See, for example, State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Periasami Malain, FA 705262 (Forum Jun. 19, 2006) (“Complainant’s registrations with the United States Patent and Trademark Office of the trademark, STATE FARM, establishes its rights in the STATE FARM mark pursuant to Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).”)

[iii] See, for example, Roche Therapeutics Inc. v. Williams Shorell, FA 1684961 (Forum Aug. 30, 2016) (“Complainant asserts Respondent’s <boniva.top> domain name is identical to the BONIVA mark. The addition of a generic top level domain to a mark does not differentiate the domain from said mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).”).

[iv] See, for example, Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, D2000‑0624 (WIPO Aug. 21, 2000)

[v] See, for example, Bloomberg L.P. v. SC Media Servs. & Info. SRL, FA 296583 (Forum Sept. 2, 2004) (“Respondent is wholly appropriating Complainant’s mark and is not using the <bloomberg.ro> domain name in connection with an active website. The Panel finds that the [failure to make an active use] of a domain name that is identical to Complainant’s mark is not a bona fide offering of goods or services pursuant to Policy¶4(c)(i) and it is not a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii).”); Snap Inc. v. Domain Admin / Whois Privacy Corp., FA 1735300 (Forum July 14, 2017) (“Use of a disputed domain name to offer malicious software does not constitute a bona fide offering or a legitimate use per Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) & (iii).”); Insomniac Holdings, LLC v. Mark Daniels, FA 1735969 (Forum July 15, 2017) (”Respondent’s use of <edcorlando.xyz> also does not qualify as a bona fide offering… the <edcorlando.xyz> domain name resolves to a site containing pay-per-click hyperlinks and advertisements… Since these kinds of advertisements generate revenue for the holder of a domain name, they cannot be noncommercial; further, they do not qualify as a bona fide offering.”).

[vi] See, for example, 3M Company v. Nguyen Hoang Son / Business and Marketing, FA1408001575815 (Forum Sept. 18, 2014) finding that the respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to host sponsored advertisements for Amazon, through which the respondent presumably profited, indicated that the respondent had used the disputed domain name in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv).


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Comments

3 Responses to “#BiggerHammer .com : A 2014 #trademark ruled over a 2003 #domain name!”
  1. Anon says:

    Ludicrous!

  2. DomainGang says:

    Anon – That’s another tm 😛

  3. Ethan says:

    Can someone please explain? The domain name was registered in 2003, at that time the complainant hadn’t even registered its trademark. So it’s impossible that the domain name was registered in bad faith. Why on earth did the panelist still say that the domain name was registered in bad faith?

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