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Decedent Domain Name

On December 5, 1999, Respondent registered the domain name "celiacruz.com".  Celia Cruz was a world famous Cuban salsa singer who died on July 16, 2003. She was internationally recognized as the "Queen of Salsa" and during her lifetime received countless awards and honors, including three Grammy Awards, four Latin Grammy Awards, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Smithsonian Institution and many others. Several streets have even been named in her honor.

The disputed domain name resolves to a portal site with links to a variety of businesses including travel, accommodation, finance, electronics, insurance and many other services.  The site recognized that Celia Cruz was "one of the greatest musical talents of the 20th century" and featured in bold type the words "Great Collection of Celia Cruz Music CDs" which provided a link to a site at www.eTours.com providing travel and accommodation services.  Relying on the common law rights of Celia Cruz having descended to her estate, her estate's sole executor appointed Complainant as his attorney-in-fact to bring this WIPO action, alleging that Ms. Cruz, and by devolution her estate, owns and controls common law trademark rights in the name Celia Cruz.

Ordering transfer of the disputed domain name to Complainant, the Panel found that the record clearly established that the deceased was one of the best known and most widely acclaimed performers in her field, having been known and promoted by reference to her name to such an extent that she had established strong and substantial common law trademark rights in the name "Celia Cruz".  In the absence of a response by Respondent, the Panel assumed that Respondent could not rebut Complainant's prima facie showing that Respondent had no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain. Since the disputed domain name was registered long after the name and reputation of Celia Cruz had been established and the honors conferred upon her had been widely publicized, it was presumed that Respondent's use of the domain name as evidenced by its website content had been for the purpose of capitalizing on her name's reputation to attract Internet users to its website for commercial gain.  Eventus Management, Inc. v. Twenty Four Hours, LLC, WIPO Case No. D2009-0067

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