Domain Name Knockout In The Ring
The Respondent manufactures and sells jewelry products, including engagement rings, wedding and anniversary rings and other types of rings. Respondent registered the disputed domain name "thering.com" in September 1995. During the period 1998-2001, Respondent used the disputed domain name to direct Internet users to its website displaying and providing information about its rings. Thereafter, Respondent discontinued this use in favor of "ajaffe.com", which reflects the Respondent's brand, but continued to use the disputed domain name as a corporate email address for its employees.
Complainaint owns various trademark rights for the mark "The Ring" for use with the boxing publication "The Ring Magazine", the earliest of which rights date back to January 1977. Seeking transfer of the disputed domain name, Complainant contends that the disputed domain name, "thering.com", is identical to and confusingly similar to its trademark and contends that Respondent has never used the disputed domain name for any purpose, thus constituting bad faith under the Policy.
The Panel denied Complainant's complaint. In so doing, the Panel found that even though Complainant had trademark rights in "The Ring" and that the disputed domain name was identical and confusingly similar to Complainant's mark, Complainant had failed to satisfy its burden of showing bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name by Respondent. Instead, Respondent appears to have used the disputed domain name in a descriptive sense and it was noted that a number of panels have held that a respondent may have a right to register and use a domain name to attract Internet traffic based on the appeal of a commonly used descriptive word provided the domain name was not registered with the Complainant's mark in mind, even where it is confusingly similar to the registered mark of a complainant. Sports and Entertainment Publications LLC v. Sandberg & Sikorski, WIPO Case No. D2007-1693