WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Elevate Credit Service, LLC v. Domain Protection Services, Inc. / James Slavin

Case No. D2021-3777

1. The Parties

Complainant is Elevate Credit Service, LLC, United States of America (“United States” or “U.S.”), represented by Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass, LLP, United States.

Respondent is Domain Protection Services, Inc., United States / James Slavin, United States.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <risencredit.loan> (the “Disputed Domain Name”) is registered with Name.com, Inc. (Name.com LLC) (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 11, 2021.1 On November 12, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Name. On November 15, 2022, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Disputed Domain Name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to Complainant on December 1, 2021, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainant filed an amended Complaint on December 6, 2021.

The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended 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 December 13, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was January 2, 2022. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on January 12, 2022.

The Center appointed Richard W. Page as the sole panelist in this matter on January 21, 2022. 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

Complainant uses the RISE mark (“RISE Mark”) and associated trade name Rise in connection with credit and lending services. Complainant’s use of the RISE Mark dates back to February 2013. Complainant’s rights are reflected in United States Trademark Registration No. 4,472,480, registered on January 21, 2014, for the RISE Mark for “financial services, namely, providing short term loans via the Internet, phone, and retail locations; stored-value and credit card services.”

Based in the United States, Complainant is a leading provider of innovative and responsible online credit solutions for non-prime consumers. Complainant’s target consumers include individuals with no savings, urgent credit needs and limited options.

Since at least as early as 2013, Complainant has marketed lending and credit solutions under the RISE Mark and Rise trade name. Complainant’s products include unsecured installment loans. Complainant owns the domain name <risecredit.com> under which it offers its services.

Since early 2013, Complainant has spent significant time and energy, and expended planning, building its business under the RISE Mark, and developing goodwill and value in association with the RISE Mark.

Complainant’s website traffic under Complainant’s <risecredit.com> domain name has averaged approximately five (5) millions visits each year for the past three (3) years.

Complainant uses the phrase “Rise” to identify itself on its U.S. website at “www.risecedit.com” as a seller of online lending services. This website provides consumers with details about Rise for unsecured installment loans.

The Disputed Domain Name was created on August 12, 2021 and resolves to a website referring consumers to lenders who offer lending solutions.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

Complainant contends that for years it has used the RISE Mark and the Rise trade name and used its “www.risecredit.com” website. Complainant further contends that its trademark rights date back at least as early as 2013; and it registered the <risecredit.com> domain name in May 2012.

Complainant further contends that the Disputed Domain Name wholly incorporates the RISE Mark. Complainant further contends that the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.loan” can be ignored for the purpose of analyzing confusing similarity.

Complainant alleges that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name, pursuant to paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy. Complainant further alleges that Respondent is not using the Disputed Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.

Complainant further alleges that Respondent improperly uses the RISE Mark to operate an illegitimate website located at “www.risencredit.loan”. This website is a “parked” domain. The website refers consumers to lenders who offer lending solutions that are nearly identical to Complainant, such as online applications for personal loans. The website’s internal links to Lending Policy, Privacy Policy and Terms of Use indicate that the owner is “qucikadvanceloan.com”.

Complainant further alleges that Respondent, on its website at “www.risencredit.loan”, identifies itself as “RISENCEDIT.COM” in large lettering at the top of the webpage in bright blue and capital font.

Complainant further alleges that the website at the Disputed Domain Name <risencredit.loan> does not offer financial services itself, but instead operates a lead generation site. Upon selecting a loan amount range on the site and clicking “Next Step,” the Internet user is directed to enter an email address to receive further communications, presumably including communications from Respondent’s lending partners.

Complainant further alleges that the disclosure at the bottom of the website at the Disputed Domain Name states that “RisenCredit.com receives compensation from its lenders and lending partners, often based on a ping-tree model similar to Google AdWords where the highest available bidder is connected to the consumer.” Therefore, Respondent uses the RISE Mark to divert sales to third party lenders that directly compete with Complainant’s product and business.

Complainant further alleges that UDRP panels have repeatedly found that parked domains displaying links to competing third party services are not used in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services and do not constitute legitimate noncommercial use. See Lyonnais de Banque v. Richard J., WIPO Case No. D2006-0142.

Complainant further alleges that rights and legitimate interests cannot be created where the use of the Disputed Domain Name is to create an impression of association with Complainant. Drexel University v. David Brouda, WIPO Case No. D2001-0067. Complainant further alleges that Respondent is doing exactly that.

Complainant further alleges that Respondent has never been commonly known by the Disputed Domain Name.

Complainant further alleges that it has no legal business, legal or other relationship with Respondent and has not been given any license, permission or authorization to use the RISE Mark in any way.

Complainant asserts that Respondent has registered and is using the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith.

Complainant further asserts that Respondent has the goal of intentionally attracting users for commercial gain by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant to “mousetrap” consumers in websites that advertise services that are not sponsored or endorsed by, or even affiliated, with Complainant.

B. Respondent

Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs the Panel as to the principles the Panel is to use in determining the dispute: “A Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these Rules, and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.”

Respondent is not obliged to participate in a domain name dispute proceeding, but when it fails to do so, asserted facts that are not unreasonable will be taken as true and Respondent will be subject to the inferences that flow naturally from the information provided by Complainant. See Reuters Limited v. Global Net 2000, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000‑0441.

Even though Respondent has failed to file a Response or to contest Complainant’s assertions, the Panel will review the evidence proffered by Complainant to verify that the essential elements of the claims are met.

See section 4.3 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that Complainant must prove each of the following:

(i) that the Disputed Domain Name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to the RISE Mark in which Complainant has rights; and,

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

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

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Section 1.2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 states that registration of the RISE Mark is prima facie evidence of Complainant having enforceable rights.

Complainant’s rights in the RISE Mark are reflected in United States Trademark Registration No. 4,472,480 for the RISE Mark for “financial services, namely, providing short term loans via the Internet, phone, and retail locations; stored-value and credit card services.”

Based on this record, the Panel finds that Complainant has enforceable trademark rights for purposes of this proceeding in the RISE Mark.

Complainant contends that the Disputed Domain Name is identical with or confusingly similar to the RISE Mark pursuant to paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

Complainant further contends that the Disputed Domain Name wholly incorporates the RISE Mark. Complainant further contends that the gTLD “.loan” can be ignored for the purpose of analyzing confusing similarity.

Section 1.7 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 says that inclusion of the entire trademark in a domain name will be considered confusingly similar. Section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 instructs that the addition of other terms (whether descriptive, geographical, pejorative, meaningless or otherwise), such as “n” and “credit” in this case, does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity. Section 1.11.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 instructs that gTLDs such as “.loan” may be disregarded for purposes of assessing confusing similarity.

Based on this record, the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to the RISE Mark and that Complainant has satisfied the elements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Complainant contends that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name pursuant to paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

Section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 states that once Complainant makes a prima facie case in respect of the lack of rights or legitimate interests of Respondent, Respondent carries the burden of demonstrating it has rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name. Where Respondent fails to do so, Complainant is deemed to have satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy allows three nonexclusive methods for the Panel to conclude that Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name:

(i) before any notice to you [Respondent] of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the Disputed Domain Name or a name corresponding to the Disputed 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 Disputed 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 Disputed Domain Name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the RISE Mark.

Complainant alleges that Respondent is not using the Disputed Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.

Complainant further alleges that Respondent improperly uses the RISE Mark to operate an illegitimate website located at the Disputed Domain Name <risencredit.loan>. This website is a “parked” domain. The website refers consumers to lenders who offer lending solutions that are nearly identical to Complainant, such as online applications for personal loans.

Complainant further alleges that Respondent, on its website at “www.risencredit.loan”, identifies itself as “RISENCEDIT.COM” in large lettering at the top of the webpage in bright blue and capital font.

Complainant further alleges that the website at the Disputed Domain Name <risencredit.loan> does not offer financial services itself, but instead operates a lead generation site. Upon selecting a loan amount range on the site and clicking “Next Step,” the Internet user is directed to enter an email address to receive further communications, presumably including communications from Respondent’s lending partners.

Complainant further alleges that the disclosure at the bottom of the website at the Disputed Domain Name states that “RisenCredit.com receives compensation from its lenders and lending partners, often based on a ping-tree model similar to Google AdWords where the highest available bidder is connected to the consumer.” Therefore, Respondent uses the RISE Mark to divert sales to third party lenders that directly compete with Complainant’s product and business.

Complainant further alleges that rights and legitimate interests cannot be created where the use of the Disputed Domain Name is to create an impression of association with Complainant. Drexel University v. David Brouda, WIPO Case No. D2001-0067. Complainant further alleges that Respondent is doing exactly that.

Complainant further alleges that Respondent has never been commonly known by the Disputed Domain Name. Complainant further alleges that it has no legal business, legal or other relationship with Respondent and has not been given any license, permission or authorization to use the RISE Mark in any way.

The Panel finds that Complainant has presented a prima facie case that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name, pursuant to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy. Respondent has not contested the Complainant’s prima facie case.

Therefore, the Panel rules that Complainant has satisfied the elements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Complainant contends that Respondent registered and is using the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith in violation of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

The Policy, paragraph 4(b) sets forth four nonexclusive criteria for Complainant to show bad faith registration and use of the Disputed Domain Name:

(i) circumstances indicating that you [Respondent] have registered or you have acquired the Disputed Domain Name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the Disputed Domain Name registration to Complainant who is the owner of the RISE Mark or to a competitor of Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the Disputed Domain Name; or

(ii) you [Respondent] have registered the Disputed Domain Name in order to prevent the owner of the RISE Mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) you [Respondent] have registered the Disputed Domain Name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) by using the Disputed Domain Name, you [Respondent] have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the RISE Mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your website or location or of a product.

The RISE Mark was registered well before the registration of the Disputed Domain Name. The Disputed Domain Name not only incorporates the RISE Mark in its entirety but also differs from Complainant’s domain name <risecredit.com> by only an additional “n” (save for the gTLDs). Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Name with Complainant and its RISE Mark in mind.

Complainant asserts that Respondent has the goal of intentionally attracting users for commercial gain by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant to “mousetrap” consumers in websites that advertise services that are not sponsored or endorsed by, or even affiliated, with Complainant.

The Panel finds that Complainant’s assertions to be supported by the evidence in this record. The Panel further finds that Respondent registered and is using the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith pursuant to paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.

Therefore, Complainant has established the necessary elements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

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 Disputed Domain Name <risencredit.loan> be transferred to the Complainant.

Richard W. Page
Sole Panelist
Date: February 4, 2022


1 The Complaint was originally filed regarding the disputed domain name and another domain name. Subsequently, the other domain name was removed from the proceeding because the registrant of that domain name was willing to transfer it to Complainant.