WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Inphi Corporation v. Tommy Kline

Case No. D2017-1382

1. The Parties

Complainant is Inphi Corporation of Santa Clara, California, United States of America (“United States”), represented by Atkins and Associates, United States.

Respondent is Tommy Kline of Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <inphi-corp.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 19, 2017. On July 19, 2017, the Center transmitted by e-mail to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On July 19, 2017, the Registrar transmitted by e-mail to the Center its verification response confirming that Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details.

The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “UDRP”), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Rules”), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Supplemental Rules”).

In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2 and 4, the Center formally notified Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on July 24, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was August 14, 2017. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on August 15, 2017.

The Center appointed Robert A. Badgley as the sole panelist in this matter on August 24, 2017. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with the Rules, paragraph 7.

On August 29, 2017, the Panel issued Procedural Order No. 1, which stated:

Under paragraph 12 of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Rules”), the Panel may, at its sole discretion, request further statements or documents from either of the Parties.

Having reviewed the case file, the Panel notes that the disputed domain name was created on January 30, 2001, while the Complainant indicates it was incorporated on November 13, 2000, and Complainant’s trademark registration for the mark INPHI dates to July 23, 2002, with a first use of January 2001, and first use in commerce of March 2002.

Taking the above into account, and pursuant to paragraph 12 of the Rules, the Panel requests that the Complainant submit evidence clarifying the use of its trademark rights in the INPHI mark at any other time prior to the date the disputed domain name was created. Alternatively, the Complainant may submit evidence that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name or acquired the disputed domain name from a third party after the existence of Complainant’s trademark rights in INPHI.

The Complainant is requested to submit its reply to this Administrative Panel procedural order to the Center at domain.disputes@wipo.int by no later than September 4, 2017.

The Respondent may submit a response to the Complainant’s submission by September 9, 2017.

The Panel extends the due date for the decision to September 18, 2017.

On September 1, 2017, Complainant submitted its reply, with annexes, to the Procedural Order.

Respondent did not respond to the Procedural Order or Complainant’s supplemental submission.

4. Factual Background

Complainant manufactures integrated circuits and semiconductor devices, and related products and services. Complainant owns the registered trademark INPHI, registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on July 23, 2002, in connection with such products, with a date of first use in commerce of March 2002. Since 2009, Complainant’s primary website has been located at “www.inphi.com”.

From as early as February 23, 2005 until January 30, 2017, Complainant owned the Domain Name. Prior to 2009, the Domain Name was the address of Complainant’s website. On or about January 30, 2017, Complainant inadvertently allowed its registration of the Domain Name to expire without renewal. Respondent purchased the Domain Name at an auction at some point between March 10, 2017 and March 13, 2017.

Before the Complaint in this proceeding was filed, the Domain Name resolved to a website which, in Complainant’s description, “appears to be a placeholder designed to emulate Complainant’s website without legitimately offering any goods or services for sale.” The website describes Complainant’s products and activities. The “Contact” tab at Respondent’s website resolved to a form for prospective customers to fill out.

Since the filing of the Complaint in this proceeding, the Domain Name no longer resolves to the web page described above. Rather, the Domain Name now resolves to a blank page.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

Complainant asserts that it has satisfied all three elements required under the Policy for a transfer of the Domain Name. According to Complainant, Respondent has no affiliation with, or authorization from, Complainant, and Respondent is seeking either to profit from consumer confusion, or to gather data on consumers for nefarious purposes, or to sell the Domain Name back to Complainant for a profit.

B. Respondent

Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists the three elements which Complainant must satisfy with respect to the Domain Name:

(i) the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and

(ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and

(iii) the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel concludes that Complainant has rights in the mark INPHI through registration and use. The Domain Name is confusingly similar to the INPHI mark, since it incorporates that mark in its entirety and adds the generic suffix “corp” (widely understood to denote a corporation).

Complainant has established Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Pursuant to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, Respondent may establish its rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name, among other circumstances, by showing any of the following elements:

(i) before any notice to you [Respondent] of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the Domain Name or a name corresponding to the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or

(ii) you [Respondent] (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the Domain Name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or

(iii) you [Respondent] are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.

The Panel concludes that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. Respondent has not been authorized by Complainant to use its INPHI mark as a domain name or in any other manner. Respondent has not come forward to explain its bona fides, if any, vis-à-vis the Domain Name.

Complainant has established Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii).

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides that the following circumstances, “in particular but without limitation,” are evidence of the registration and use of the Domain Name in “bad faith”:

(i) circumstances indicating that Respondent has registered or has acquired the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the Domain Name registration to Complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of its documented out of pocket costs directly related to the Domain Name; or

(ii) that Respondent has registered the Domain Name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) that Respondent has registered the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) that by using the Domain Name, Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to Respondent’s website or other on line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of Respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on Respondent’s website or location.

The Panel concludes that Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith. The Panel finds it more likely than not that Respondent had Complainant’s distinctive INPHI mark in mind when registering the Domain Name. The content at the website, which relates to the products and services offered by Complainant, indicates that Respondent was aware of the INPHI mark when he bought the Domain Name at auction earlier this year.

The Panel also concludes that Respondent has used the Domain Name in bad faith. In the Complaint, Complainant alleged: “Respondent has copied significant sections of Complainant’s website in an attempt to trick Complainant’s potential customers into believing they have reached the legitimate website of Inphi Corporation. Given the design of Respondent’s website and its content, Respondent’s website will lead Internet users to believe that they have somehow reached a website of Complainant, when in fact they have ended up on a website of an unaffiliated impostor. There is no conceivable good faith use for the disputed domain name to resolve to such a website.”

In the face of these allegations, Respondent did not deny them by way of a response in this proceeding. Instead, Respondent took down his website. The Panel finds Complainant’s unrebutted allegation regarding Respondent’s motivations to be plausible, and the Panel agrees that there is no conceivable good faith explanation for Respondent’s conduct here. At a minimum, the Panel finds bad faith here under Policy paragraph 4(b)(iv), quoted above.

Complainant has established Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii).

7. Decision

For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <inphi-corp.com> be transferred to Complainant.

Robert A. Badgley
Sole Panelist
Date: September 11, 2017