Monday, May 8, 2017

"I want a reason to go to Tractor Supply"

In Tractor Supply Company v. WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc. / Party Brands LLC, WIPO Case No. D2017-0325 (Jeffrey M. Samuels, April 18, 2017), the Panel ordered the transfer of to the owner of the TSC TRACTOR SUPPLY CO. mark. Honestly, this was a pretty straightforward and simple case, but it gives me an excuse to talk about my beautiful wife, so I couldn't resist blogging about it.

True story-- Met my wife just over ten years ago as a result of an introduction made by my very first client, the amazing band sirsy. We went to two sirsy concerts together on back-to-back nights, and this blog post contains way more words than my future-to-be wife said about herself over those two nights. On the second night, desperate for information, and exasperated after several attempts to get her to reveal something about herself, I finally just laid it on the line and bluntly asked: "So, what is it that you want out of life???" Her response:
"I want a reason to go to Tractor Supply."

Now just think about that response for a second. There are over 320,000,000 people in the USA alone. If I asked that question to all 320+million people, I bet no one else would give that answer. And I loved the answer. I knew I loved her. I had never stepped foot in a Tractor Supply, but suddenly I wanted to walk through those doors more than any set of doors anywhere. So yeah, I proposed a few weeks later and my wife and I were married almost 6 months to the day from when she matter-of-factly said those words. For the conclusion of our Tractor Supply story, skip to the end, but for now, the merits of the case...

As always, the Panel considered the three elements necessary for a complainant to prevail in a UDRP dispute:
(1) Whether the disputed domain is confusingly similar to a trademark in which Complainant has rights;
(2) Whether Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain; and
(3) Whether Respondent registered and has used the disputed domain in bad faith.

In this case, Respondent had about as much a chance of prevailing as I do of walking out of a Tractor Supply store empty handed-- none.

As to the first element, confusing similarity was easily shown. Complainant adeptly pointed out that Respondent's domain consisted of the most distinctive element of the TSC TRACTOR SUPPLY CO. mark, TRACTOR SUPPLY, with the mere addition of ".store," the latter of which "creates an association with the way in which Complainant sells its products to the general public, i.e. from their large stores." In this sense, the Panel considered the use of the ".store" extension an aggravating factor.

As to the second element, finding that the "evidence indicates that the disputed domain name resolves to a landing page with PPC links to third-party sites that feature aspects of Complainant's mark and that offer products and/or services that compete with those provided by Complainant," the Panel readily found that Respondent had no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain.

As to the final element, the Panel found bad faith, noting that the "evidence indicates that Respondent, by using the disputed domain name, intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant's trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of such site or locations or of the products or services on the site or location." To that end, the Panel found that "some of the goods and services offered on the third-party sites [linked to from the disputed domain] compete with those offered by Complainant" and that "[i]t is also reasonable to assume, given Complainant's longstanding and widespread use of the TSC TRACTOR SUPPLY CO. mark prior to the registration of the disputed domain name, that Respondent had actual knowledge of Complainant and of its mark at the time of the disputed domain name's registration." Finally, Respondent paid the typical price for ignoring a cease and desist letter: "Respondent's failure to respond to the 'cease and desist' letter and email is an additional factor in support of a finding of bad faith." And so, the decision to transfer was made.

Now, back to my wife and her quest for a reason to visit Tractor Supply. After we got married, we bought a house with some land. We got some chickens and rabbits to go along with our horse, cats, and dogs. We had a lawn to mow and many mouths to feed. Seemed like a good time, so I bought her a nice John Deere riding mower, got her a hefty gift card, and made sure to take her to Tractor Supply so she could get whatever she wanted. That first trip to Tractor Supply was one of the better days of my life.

Now, whenever we can, wherever we travel, we always stop in to pick up something at Tractor Supply. And Sunshine, if you are reading this, I just got you a gift card to Tractor Supply so we can visit again real soon, maybe a Mother's Day trip cause I know chicken feed > flowers for my Tractor Supply lovin' lady. Love ya.

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