Cindy Crawford whose full name is Cynthia Ann Crawford ,won the rights to the domain name CindyCrawford.com in a UDRP decision handed down today, by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Now that the decision is out its clear that the Supermodel never owned the domain, despite that the whois for many years showed her as the owner of the domain, and that the domain was pointed to Ms. Crawford’s site which is at Cindy.com
It seems like Ms. Crawford was fine with the registration while the owner was forwarding it to her official site at Cindy.com but when the owner started redirecting the domain to a porn site in 2012, Ms. Crawford filed this UDRP.
Here are the relevant facts and findings by the one person panel:
The Complainant holds numerous active or pending registrations for the trade mark CINDY CRAWFORD in over 50 countries.
The Complainant holds (at least) the following trade mark registrations: CINDY CRAWFORD, in the United States, Registration No. 2,392,820 (registered October 10, 2000,); and Community Trade Mark for CINDY CRAWFORD, Registration No. 002246288 (registered May 15, 2003,),(together, the “Trade Marks”).
The Respondent is Julian S. Garcia of Madrid, Spain. The Respondent did not file a Response, and consequently little information is known about the Respondent.
The Disputed Domain Name was first registered on October 17, 1996.
According to the publicly-available WhoIs information, the Disputed Domain Name has had multiple registrants since 1996. From the evidence submitted by the Complainant it seems that the Respondent has held the Disputed Domain Name since at least August 8, 2012.
The Disputed Domain Name redirects to a website which contains pornographic material.
“The Complainant has never owned the Disputed Domain Name (contrary to false registrant information in the publicly available WhoIs history report). ”
“The Respondent has been in control of the Disputed Domain Name since February 13, 2004. ”
“The Respondent was listed as the technical contact on this date, with “Cindy Crawford” listed as registrant (both with the same address). These details changed on February 10, 2010, (“Cindy Crawford” was listed as technical contact, still with the Respondent’s address), and again on August 8, 2012, (the Respondent was listed as both the registrant and the technical contact).
The Complainant has not authorized the Respondent to register or take any action in relation to the Disputed Domain Name.
“Prior to August 8, 2012, the Disputed Domain Name was either inactive, or directed to <cindy.com>”
“Since August 2012, the Disputed Domain Name has been redirecting to an English-language pornographic website for a pornographic actress using the same professional name as the Complainant. The Complainant has no contractual relationship with this actress”.
“The Respondent is attempting to trade on the Complainant’s trade mark rights through the use of sexually explicit advertising, this tarnishes the Trade Marks (see e.g. Nicole Kidman v. John Zuccarini, d/b/a Cupcake Party, WIPO Case No. D2000-1415; and Rita Rudner v. Internetco Corp., WIPO Case No. D2000-0581).
“Even if the Complainant did not own registered trade marks, the Panel would find that the Complainant is one of the most famous and well-known super models in history. The Complainant started modeling in the 1980s, and by 1995 (if not earlier), the Complainant had reached “super model” status throughout the Western world. This is relevant for the third element, discussed below.
The fact that at one time the Disputed Domain Name may have been redirected to the Complainant’s official website, “www.cindy.com”, does not on the facts of this case give any rights or interests to the Respondent sufficient to satisfy the second element of the Policy.
The Respondent had the opportunity to demonstrate its rights or legitimate interests, but did not do so. In the absence of a Response from the Respondent, the prima facie case established by the Complainant has not been rebutted and the Complainant succeeds on the second element of the Policy.
The transfer of a domain name amounts to a new registration (see paragraph 3.7 of WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition (“WIPO Overview 2.0”)). It appears that the Disputed Domain Name was registered or acquired by the Respondent (under the false name of “Cindy Crawford” as registrant) onFebruary 13, 2004, as states above in Section 5.
The Complainant and her Trade Marks were extremely well-known in 2004 (as well as in 1996 when it appears that the disputed domain name was first registered). As stated in Wikipedia:
“Cynthia Ann “Cindy” Crawford (born February 20, 1966) is an American model. Crawford is known for her trademark mole just above her lip, and has adorned hundreds of magazine covers throughout her career. Her success at modeling made her an international celebrity that has led to roles in television and film, and to work as a spokesperson. In 1995, Forbes magazine named her the highest paid model on the planet. She was named No. 3 on VH1′s 40 Hottest Hotties of the 90s and was named one of the ‘100 Hottest Women of All-Time’ by Men’s Health.“
It would be highly unlikely that the Respondent was unaware of the Complainant in 2004.
The Panel finds that the Respondent, prior to his registration and use of the Disputed Domain Name, which wholly incorporates the Trade Marks, was aware of the Complainant, and was aware that the Complainant was a famous supermodel.
The Respondent’s registration of a domain name that wholly incorporates the Trade Marks and the use by which the domain name has been put, discussed below, indicates that the Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Name to mislead Internet users into thinking he is some way connected, sponsored or affiliated with the Complainant and her business/products, or that the Respondent’s activities are approved or endorsed by the Complainant.
It appears to the Panel that the Respondent is trading off the Complainant’s substantial reputation. This constitutes bad faith use (see e.g. eBay Inc. v. Sunho Hong, WIPO Case No. D2000-1633; Playboy Enterprises International, Inc. v. Domain Active Pty Limited, WIPO Case No. D2002-1156; and Nicole Richie v. Sonny Ahuja, WIPO Case No. D2012-0500).
A number of UDRP panels have held that pornographic content may be (but is not in itself) a significant indicator of bad faith use (see e.g. Caesars World, Inc v. Alaiksei Yahorau, WIPO Case No. D2004-0513 and the cases cited therein). In CHRISTIAN DIOR COUTURE v. Paul Farley, WIPO Case No. D2008-0008 (citing The Perfect Potion v. Domain Administrator, WIPO Case No. D2004-0743), the panel stated:
In light of the discussion above, this element of “targeting” is satisfied. The Respondent is “pornosquatting”, (i.e. taking advantage of the Complainant’s well-known Trade Marks to attract Internet users to his pornographic, commercial web site).
It also appears that the Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Name with a false name (i.e. “Cindy Crawford” as registrant). To this Panel this is further evidence of bad faith (see e.g. TPI Holdings, Inc. v. Carmen Armengol, WIPO Case No. D2009-0361 and cases cited therein).
One of the addresses that was included in the registrant details (for “Cindy Crawford”) at a time prior to the when the Respondent appeared to acquire the Disputed Domain Name was 61 E 8th Street, New York.
This is a store front (currently a Verizon cell phone store).
Accordingly, the Panel agrees with the Complainant’s submissions that she never owned the disputed domain name, even though it was directed to her “www.cindy.com” website.
The Respondent had the opportunity to make submissions to the contrary but failed to do so. The Panel infers from this failure to respond that the Respondent could not provide any evidence of good faith use of the Disputed Domain Name
In light of the above, the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith as defined in paragraphs 4(a)(iii) and 4(b) of the Policy.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Disputed Domain Name, <cindycrawford.com> be transferred to the Complainant.