WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
LinkedIn Corporation v. Jack Miller, Jack Miller
Case No. D2021-1744
1. The Parties
Complainant is LinkedIn Corporation, United States of America (“USA”), represented by The GigaLaw Firm, Douglas M. Isenberg, Attorney at Law, LLC, USA.
Respondent is Jack Miller, Jack Miller, USA.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <linkedinexpo.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with Wix.com Ltd., (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 3, 2021. That same day, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On June 4, 2021, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Domain Name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to Complainant on June 21, 2021 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on June 22, 2021.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to 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 June 24, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was July 14, 2021. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on August 3, 2021.
The Center appointed Harrie R. Samaras as the sole panelist in this matter on August 10, 2021. 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.
4. Factual Background
Founded in 2003, Complainant is one of the world’s largest professional network on the Internet. It has 756 million members in 200 countries and regions. Complainant became a public company on May 18, 2011, and traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “LNKD” until Microsoft Corp. acquired it. Complainant has more than 16,000 full-time employees with 33 offices in cities around the world and operates websites in 24 languages.
Complainant owns at least 235 trademark registrations in at least 62 jurisdictions worldwide that consist of or include the mark LINKEDIN (the “LINKEDIN Mark” or the “Mark”). They include: U.S. Registration No. 3,074,241 (registered March 28, 2006) for the word mark. They also include U.S. Registration No. 3,074,242 (registered March 28, 2006) for a design mark (or the LINKEDIN Logo) that consists of the word “Linked” in dark lettering contiguous with the word “in” where the latter is in white lettering with a dark square behind it.
Respondent registered the Domain Name on July 28, 2020. He is using the Domain Name in connection with a website claiming to offer “the largest all-industry online expo” via a “5-Day Online-Streamed event” known as the “LinkedIn Expo”. The expo advertises that it is both for B2B and B2C audiences. It sells potential participants various plans (i.e., “starter”, “enhanced”, and “ultimate”) to showcase their business with access costing from USD 189 to USD 449 depending upon the length of screen time, number of potential views, time slot, and obtaining attendee information. Plastered throughout Respondent’s website and in multiple places on the web pages is Complainant’s Mark. It does not appear solely in the Domain Name, but also with reference to social media engagement (“#LINKEDINEXPO”), Internet engagement using the email address “[…]@linkedinexpo”, at the bottom of pages (“Linkedinexpo © LinkedInExpo Corporation 2020”), at the top of particular pages (“Book Now | LinkedInExpo”), in text to describe the expo (“LinkedInExpo is an All-Industry meet to Showcase, Discuss, Study, and Explore the bigger picture on a smaller screen.”; as well as in logo form much like the LINKEDIN Logo using a similar font, a small letter “i” for the word “in” and putting a triangle (instead of a square) behind the word “in.”
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant has rights in the LINKEDIN trademark. The second-level portion of the Domain Name contains the LINKEDIN Mark in its entirety and, thus, it is confusingly similar to the Mark. Adding the word “expo” does nothing to alleviate any confusing similarity where, as here, the Mark is recognizable within the Domain Name. Adding the word “expo” does not change the overall impression of the designation of the Domain Name.
Complainant has never assigned, granted, licensed, sold, transferred or in any way authorized Respondent to register or use the LINKEDIN Mark in any manner. By using the Domain Name in connection with a website that offers services that falsely appear to be associated with Complainant, Respondent is not engaged in a bona fide offering of goods or services under the Policy. According to the WhoIs record, the registrant of the Domain Name is “Jack Miller” – not “LinkedIn” or “LinkedIn Expo” or anything similar. This fact, combined with the lack of evidence in the record to suggest otherwise, shows that Respondent is not commonly known by the Domain Name. Also, given Complainant’s use of the LINKEDIN Trademark for more than 18 years and its 235 trademark registrations in at least 62 jurisdictions worldwide it is certain that Respondent is not commonly known by the Mark.
Respondent is using the Domain Name in connection with a website that uses a logo similar to Complainant’s LINKEDIN Logo and purports to offer “the largest all-industry online expo” via a “5-Day Online-Streamed event” known as the “LinkedIn Expo” with plans selling for USD 189 to USD 449. The similarities between Complainant’s LINKEDIN Logo and the logo used by Respondent on its website are obvious, consisting of an almost identical font, use of lowercase letters for the word “in”, and inclusion of the word “in” inside a simple solid shape. These actions imply an association with Complainant and, therefore, are clearly misleading pursuant to the Policy. Plus, by selling plans for USD 189 to USD 449, Respondent quite obviously has acted with the intent of generating revenue for itself – that is, in a commercial manner – and cannot establish rights or legitimate interests. By including a variation of Complainant’s LINKEDIN Logo on its website using the Domain Name, Respondent has only increased the likelihood of confusion between its website and Complainant.
Respondent has registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith given the global reach and popularity of Complainant’s services under the LINKEDIN Mark. It is inconceivable that Respondent chose the Domain Name without knowledge of Complainant’s activities and the name and the Mark under which Complainant is doing business. Further, Respondent’s motive in registering and using the Domain Name with his site is to disrupt Complainant’s relationship with its customers or potential customers or attempt to attract Internet users for potential gain.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that Complainant has trademark rights in the LINKEDIN Mark by virtue of the trademark registrations mentioned above.
The Panel also finds that the Domain Name <linkedinexpo.com> is confusingly similar to Complainant's LINKEDIN Mark. The Domain Name incorporates the Mark in its entirety and merely adds the term “expo”. When a domain name wholly incorporates a complainant’s registered mark, that is sufficient to establish identity or confusing similarity for purposes of the Policy. See Magnum Piering, Inc. v. The Mudjackers and Garwood S. Wilson, Sr., WIPO Case No. D2000-1525; see also Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.7. The addition of the word “expo” does nothing to alleviate any confusing similarity, because “[w]here the relevant trademark is recognizable within the disputed domain name, the addition of other terms (whether descriptive, geographical, pejorative, meaningless, or otherwise) would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity under the first element”. WIPO Overview 3.0, section 1.8.
Furthermore, adding the gTLD “.com” is of no legal significance from the standpoint of comparing the Domain Name to the Mark because the use of a gTLD is required of domain name registrants. See SBC Communications Inc. v. Fred Bell aka Bell Internet, WIPO Case No. D2001-0602.
For the foregoing reasons, the Panel finds that paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy has been satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
It is uncontested that Complainant has never assigned, granted, licensed, sold, transferred or in any way authorized Respondent to register or use the LINKEDIN Mark in any manner. See Six Continents Hotels, Inc. v. Patrick Ory, WIPO Case No. D2003-0098 (“There is no evidence of any commercial relationship between the Complainant and the Respondent which would entitle the Respondent to the mark. Consequently, the Panel concludes that the Respondent has no rights nor legitimate interests in the Domain Name given there exists no relationship between the Complainant and the Respondent that would give rise to any license, permission or authorization by which the Respondent could own or use the Domain Name.”). Complainant argues that this fact alone demonstrates Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests under the Policy.
Complainant argues that, to its knowledge, Respondent has never been commonly known by the Domain Name and has never acquired any trademark or service mark rights in it. According to the WhoIs record, the registrant of the Domain Name is “Jack Miller” – not “LinkedIn” or “LinkedIn Expo” or anything similar. In addition, Complainant maintains, given its use of the LINKEDIN Mark for more than 18 years and its 235 trademark registrations in at least 62 jurisdictions worldwide, it is certain that Respondent is not commonly known by the Mark. See Six Continents Hotels, Inc. v. Trasporto di Networ and Pro Intel, WIPO Case No. D2004-0246 (“given the Complainant’s established use of its […] marks, it is unlikely that the Respondents are commonly known by any of these marks”).
Complainant also points out that Respondent is using the Domain Name in connection with a website that uses a logo similar to Complainant’s LINKEDIN Logo and purports to offer “the largest all-industry online expo” via a “5-Day Online-Streamed event” known as the “LinkedIn Expo” with plans selling for USD189 to USD449. Complainant maintains that this conduct implies an association with Complainant and, therefore, is clearly misleading under the Policy. Furthermore, by selling plans for USD189 to USD449, Complainant argues that Respondent quite obviously has acted for its own commercial gain. Similarly, Complainant argues that by using the Domain Name in connection with a website offering services that falsely appear to be associated with Complainant, Respondent is not engaged in a bona fide offering of goods or services under the Policy.
Where, as here, Complainant has raised a prime facie presumption of Respondent’s lack of any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name, and Respondent has failed to rebut that presumption, the Panel is satisfied that Complainant has carried its burden of proving that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name within the meaning of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Respondent registered and has been using a Domain Name that is confusingly similar to the LINKEDIN Mark. When Respondent registered the Domain Name on July 28, 2020, Complainant had been using the Mark for well over 14 years. Given the global reach and popularity of Complainant’s services under the LINKEDIN Mark the Panel finds it is highly unlikely Respondent was unaware of the Mark or Complainant when it registered the Domain Name. Respondent’s bad faith registration is also evidenced by the facts that: (1) Respondent has not shown that he has any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name; (2) Respondent registered a Domain Name that is exactly the same as Complainant’s registered Mark adding “expo” which does not distinguish the Domain Name from the Mark; and (3) Respondent is using the Mark and a logo that has striking similarities to the LINKEDIN Logo ubiquitously throughout its website (as set forth above) to sell services that engage professionals and businesses – akin to Complainant’s business. On the uncontroverted evidence, the Panel finds that Respondent registered the Domain Name in bad faith.
There is no plausible reason for Respondent’s selection of a confusingly similar Domain Name in which Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests other than as a deliberate attempt to profit unfairly from confusion with the Mark. See, Intel Corporation v. The Pentium Group, WIPO Case No. D2009-0273 (“the incorporation of a well-known trademark into a domain name by a registrant having no plausible explanation for doing so may be, in and of itself, an indication of bad faith”). By using the LINKEDIN Mark in the Domain Name and a logo akin to the LINKEDIN Logo on its website for commercial purposes to sell engagement services for businesses and consumers, Respondent has created the false impression that its website and its “LinkedIn Expo” event is somehow affiliated with Complainant, thereby “intentionally attempt[ing] to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [its] web site, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of [its] web site or of a product or service on [its] web site or location” – establishing bad faith pursuant to the Policy. See Kohler Co. v. Ivan Kotov, WIPO Case No. D2019-0272 (“the Panel accepts that as more likely than not that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name [<expokohler.com>] with knowledge of the Complainant and targeting the KOHLER trademark in an attempt to attract traffic to the disputed domain name by confusing Internet users that they are reaching an online location related to an exposition featuring the Complainant’s products and services,” creating bad faith pursuant to paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy).
For the foregoing reasons, the Panel finds that paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy has been satisfied.
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 <linkedinexpo.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Harrie R. Samaras
Date: August 16, 2021