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Recent Case Notes & Commentary

NOT A WYNN-WYNN SITUATION


Wynn Resorts Holdings, LLC v. Equitas Global

 

FORUM Claim Number: FA2403002086400

 

April 8, 2024

 

RATIO

 

Relief was denied to the Complainant in this case on the grounds that it had failed to establish that the Respondent had registered the domain name <wynncruelty.com> in bad faith and that the Respondent had no legitimate rights or interests in operating such domain name.

 

BACKGROUND

 

Wynn Resorts Holdings LLC (“the Complainant”), is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wynn Resorts Limited, operator of the Wynn luxury casino resorts in Las Vegas and Macau. The Complainant claims that it has continuously used the WYNN trademark in connection with casino, hotel resort, restaurant, bar, spa, and entertainment services, among other goods and services. The Complainant has several trademark registrations for WYNN registered with the USPTO, and claims to have spent substantial sums of money to advertise, promote, and protect the WYNN trademarks in print, broadcast, and internet media, including through the websites www.wynnlasvegas.com and www.wynnmacau.com. The Complainant has alleged in its complaint that the disputed domain name <wynncruelty.com>, is confusingly similar to its marks, as it entirely contains the WYNN trademark, along with the generic word “cruelty” and the generic top-level domain ".com."

 

The Complainant has further alleged that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith, as a way to disparage the Complainant’s brand and its trademark WYNN. The website <wynncruelty.com> allegedly makes false statements about the Complainant’s services at its establishments that tarnish the Complainant’s alleged well-known hospitality brand. The Complainant is aggrieved that the disputed domain name is not in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services nor a legitimate non-commercial or fair use under the UDRP Policy.

 

Equitas Global (“the Respondent”) claims to be is a charitable group whose mission is to prevent discriminatory practices that cause food safety risks to consumers and cruelty to animals in international markets. The Respondent registered the domain name on February 9, 2024, as a way to publicly criticize the Complainant for its failure to properly address this food safety and animal cruelty practices in its establishments. The Respondent for its part has conceded that the Complainant has established that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the WYNN mark and that Complainant has rights in such mark. However, the Respondent has stated that the disputed domain name <wynncruelty.com> is fair use, as it was registered for and is used for legitimate public criticism, in line with Section 2.5.2 of the WIPO Jurisprudential Overview3.0.

 

DECISION

 

The Panelist reviewed the matter in accordance with the UDRP Rules.


Identical and/or confusingly similar

 

The Respondent had conceded that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the WYNN trademark and the Panelist found that it indeed contained the entirety of the WYNN trademark. Therefore, the disputed domain name was indeed identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark and therefore the first element in a domain dispute matter was satisfied.


Rights or legitimate interests

 

Prior to launching the dispute website, the Respondent contacted Complainant to inform it of Respondent's plans to launch a public campaign regarding Complainant's failure to enact food safety measure and remedy animal cruelty actions, but the Complainant had not demonstrated any public commitment or timeline to address such issues. While the Complainant, in a letter dated February 16, 2024 to the Respondent, committed to dealing with its lapses, it had actually failed to take any action. Therefore, the evidence and argument support a determination that Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. More specifically, the Panelist found that Respondent's criticism site is non-commercial, genuinely fair, and not misleading or false. The Respondent has not solicited contributions, advertised for sale or sought any commercial advantage.

 

Therefore, the Respondent had rights and legitimate interests to operate the website, and the Complainant had failed to satisfy the second element in a domain dispute matter.

 

Registration and Use in Bad Faith

 

The Panelist concluded that the disputed domain name was not registered and is not being used in bad faith, and was in fact being used in connection with a legitimate, non-commercial criticism site. Moreover, the Respondent had exercised due diligence before launching the website. In so doing, Respondent reasonably believed the truth of the assertions set forth in the challenged website.

 

Therefore, the Complainant had failed to satisfy the third element in a domain dispute matter.

 

ORDER

 

Having failed to establish all the three elements necessary in a domain disputes matter, relief was denied to the Complainant.

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