Ticket To A Domain Name Dispute

Complainant, Ticketmaster, is a global leader in live entertainment ticketing and marketing event ticket sales, operating in 20 global markets and providing ticket sales, resale services, marketing and distribution through "www.ticketmaster.com" -- one of the largest e-commerce sites on the Internet.  Complainant holds federal and foreign trademark registrations for the mark "TICKETMASTER".

The disputed domain name, "tiicketmaster.com", was successfully transferred to the Complainant based upon the Panel's finding that: (i) the disputed domain was confusingly similar to the TICKETMASTER marks given its spelling, (ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain, particularly when taking the fame of the TICKETMASTER marks into consideration which lead the Panel to find that Respondent's choice of the disputed domain name could not have resulted from mere coincidence, and (iii) the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith, based upon the Panel's review of a screen capture of the website "www.tiicketmaster.com" provided by Complainant, which showed that the disputed domain provided advertising sites that offered links to various businesses, including competing ticketing sites.  At the time of the Panel's decision, the disputed domain resolved to an error page.  Under the circumstances, this type of "passive holding" was further indicative of bad faith use according to prevailing opinions in numerous UDRP panels.  Ticketmaster v. Wang Xiao Ping, WIPO Case No. D20088-150

Domain Name Ticketmastery No-More

The Complainant, Ticketmaster Corporation, acts as a ticket agent on behalf of its clients, selling tickets to live entertainment and sporting events in 20 markets worldwide.  The Complainant is the holder of a worldwide portfolio of more than 250 registered trademarks for the mark “TICKETMASTER” and variations and has used the mark since 1993 in connection with online ticket sales and related activities.  The Complainant uses the domain name www.ticketmaster.com in connection with its online sale of tickets.  The Respondent registered the disputed domain name, www.ticketmastery.com, on January 30, 2006. 

The Complainant alleged that the disputed domain name, consisting of a slight typographical variation of the registered mark, is confusingly similar to its registered trademark and that the Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name.  Furthermore, the Complainant contends that since the website associated with the disputed domain name consists of advertisements which ultimately resolve to www.stubhub.com, a competitor of Complainant, it is plainly designed to lead a consumer who mistypes TICKETMASTER to a competitor’s site, a clear form of ‘typosquatting’, and the site, therefore, was registered and is being used in bad faith.   The Respondent failed to respond to Complainant’s contentions.  Ultimately, the Panel ordered the transfer of the disputed domain to the Complainant after finding that the Respondent violated the Complainant’s trademark rights in that the disputed domain name was confusing similar to the mark, Respondent had no right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name and the disputed domain name was registered and being used in bad faith.

Interestingly, the Panel points out that “the Complainant refers to the Respondent’s constructive knowledge of the Complainant’s registered trademarks and the latter’s long use and fame.  Nevertheless, the Panel consider[ed] that the Complainant’s submissions regarding ‘typosquating’ and the potential for internet users looking for the Complainant’s site to misspell the Complainant’s own <ticketmaster.com> domain name as the disputed domain name as the most compelling.”  The Panel states that “it [could] not conceive of any alternative explanation” for the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name other than to “intentionally [attempt] to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark.” 

The Panel found for the Complainant and ordered transfer of the disputed domain name to the Complainant.  However, Respondents and Complainants alike should take notice that the Panel was not compelled by the Complainant’s seemingly bulletproof “constructive knowledge” argument.  The Panel instead chose to rely on the Complainant’s ‘typosquatting’ argument and clearly points to the Respondent’s failure to respond and provide justification for its use of the disputed domain name as a reason for its ruling.  Ticketmaster Corporation v. WhoisGuard Protected, Case No. D2008-0350.