Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Jazz score a three-pointer for the win!

In Jazz Basketball Investors, Inc. v. WhoisguardProtected,Whoisguard, Inc. / Big Shen, Joan Bristol, WIPO Case No. D2017-0031 (Desmond J. Ryan, March 8, 2017), the Panel ordered the transfer of to Complainant, the owner of the Utah Jazz professional basketball team. It was a fairly straightforward case where Respondent had about as much chance of retaining the domain name as the Washington Generals had of beating the Harlem Globetrotters through history (random basketball history fact: the Generals only won once against the Globetrotters, due to an accidental time clock error, after losing 2,495 straight games). For this reason, Respondent didn’t even show up for the game (it defaulted).
Complainant swooshed a three pointer in this one, satisfying all three factors necessary to prevail in a UDRP complaint. First, it easily demonstrated that the disputed domain name was confusingly similar to a trademark in which Complainant had rights. Complainant owns the federally registered trademark UTAH JAZZ, and the Panel found that “[t]he disputed domain name wholly incorporates the word ‘jazz’. It is the first and distinguishing element of the disputed domain name. The added descriptive words ‘basketball team shop’ serve to increase the likelihood that consumers would associate the disputed domain name with the famous basketball team and compound the confusion thereby created."
As to the second factor, whether Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the domain, Complainant merely confirmed that it had not licensed or authorized Respondent to use the UTAH JAZZ trademark, and that assertion plus the fact that the domain name featured a webpage purporting to sell counterfeit UTAH JAZZ merchandise, made the finding of illegitimacy a slam dunk.
Finally, as to the third factor, bad faith registration and use of the domain name, the Panel found:
The word string of which the disputed domain name is composed is clearly designed to suggest, and does suggest, that the online location to which the disputed domain name directs is the online shop or e-store location of the Utah Jazz basketball team but there is the uncontradicted assertion by the Complainant that the Respondent has no connection or association with the Complainant. There could hardly be more cogent evidence of registration in bad faith. Added to that are the collateral facts that the registration sits behind a privacy shield and the contact details of the personally named Respondents are apparently fictitious.
These findings plus the asserted counterfeited nature of the goods sold on the Respondent’s website, sealed the win for Complainant.

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