WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Lendo part of Schibsted AS v. Vladlen
Case No. D2021-3783
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Lendo part of Schibsted AS, Norway, represented by Ports Group AB, Sweden.
The Respondent is Vladlen, Russian Federation.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <lendo.website> is registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 11, 2021. 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 13, 2021, 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 the Complainant on November 15, 2021, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on November 16, 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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on November 16, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 6, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 7, 2021.
The Center appointed Zoltán Takács as the sole panelist in this matter on December 13, 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.
The language of this administrative proceeding is English, that being the language of the Registration Agreement.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a financial technology company founded in 2007 that provides a marketplace for price comparison of financial products such as consumer and business loans as well as products related to mortgages and credit cards.
The Complainant operates in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Spain, and Portugal.
The Complainant owns several trademarks consisting of or comprising the term “lendo”, including:
- European Union Trademark Registration (“EUTM”) No. 006463376 for the word mark LENDO, registered since December 18, 2008, for services of class 36 of the Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purpose of the Registration of Marks (“Nice Agreement”); and
- International Trademark Registration (“IR”) No. 1453661 for the word mark LENDO, registered since February 4, 2019, for services of class 36 of the Nice Agreement, designating Russian Federation.
Since September 16, 2020, the Complainant owns the domain name <lendo.group>, which links to its principal website.
The disputed domain name was registered on May 27, 2021, and resolved to a pay-per-click webpage containing various loan related links.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that apart from the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.website”, which should be disregarded under the confusing similarity test, the disputed domain name is identical to its LENDO trademark.
The Complainant alleges that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name and is unable to rely of any of the circumstances set out in paragraphs 4(c)(i), (ii) or (iii) of the Policy.
The Complainant claims that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. The Complainant states that use of the disputed domain name to host a pay-per-click webpage containing links related to its own products and services amounts to bad faith registration and use.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules requires that the Panel’s decision be made “on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable”.
It has been a consensus view in UDRP decisions that a respondent’s default (i.e., failure to submit a formal response) would not by itself mean that the complainant is deemed to have prevailed; a respondent’s default is not necessarily an admission that the complainant’s claims are true. See section 4.3 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).
A complainant must evidence each of the three elements required by paragraph 4(a) of the Policy in order to succeed on the complaint, namely that;
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights;
(ii) the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy, there are two requirements which the Complainant must establish, first that it has rights in a trademark or service mark, and second that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark or service mark.
It has been a consensus view among UDRP panels that if the complainant owns a trademark, then it generally satisfies the threshold requirement of having trademark rights.
The Complainant produced evidence of having registered rights in the LENDO trademark and for the purpose of this administrative proceeding the Panel finds that the Complainant’s EUTM No. 006463376 and IR No.1453661 satisfy the requirement of having trademark rights for the purpose of the Policy.
Having determined that the Complainant has trademark rights in the LENDO mark, the Panel next assesses whether the disputed domain name <lendo.website> is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark.
According to section 1.7 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, the standing (or threshold) test for confusing similarity involves a reasoned but relatively straightforward comparison between the complainant’s trademark and the disputed domain name. This test typically involves a side-by-side comparison of the disputed domain name and the textual components of the relevant trademark to assess whether the mark is recognizable within the disputed domain name.
The disputed domain name comprises of the Complainant’s LENDO trademark and the applicable gTLD suffix in the disputed domain name, “.website”.
According to section 1.11.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, the applicable Top Level Domain (“TLD”) in a domain name is viewed as a standard registration requirement and as such should be disregarded under the first element confusingly similar test.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name <lendo.website> is identical to the Complainant’s LENDO trademark and that the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy is satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Under paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, a respondent may demonstrate its rights or legitimate interests in a domain name by showing any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation:
(i) its use of, or demonstrable preparation to use the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services;
(ii) it has been commonly known by the domain name;
(iii) it is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert customers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.
In the present case, the Complainant has submitted sufficient and uncontested evidence that it holds well-established rights in the LENDO trademark.
The Complainant has never authorized the Respondent to use its LENDO trademark in any way, and the Complainant’s prior rights in the LENDO trademark precede the date of registration of the disputed domain name.
According to section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, while the overall burden of proof in UDRP proceedings is on the complainant, panels have recognized that proving a respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in a domain name may result in the often impossible task of “proving a negative”, requiring information that is often primarily within the knowledge or control of the respondent.
As such, where a complainant makes out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, the burden of production on this element shifts to the respondent to come forward with the relevant evidence demonstrating rights of legitimate interests in the domain name. If the respondent fails to come forward with such relevant evidence, the complainant is deemed to have satisfied the second element.
The Respondent defaulted and failed to respond, and by doing so failed to offer the Panel any type of evidence set forth in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, or otherwise counter the Complainant’s prima facie case. Furthermore, the disputed domain name consists of the Complainant’s trademark in its entirety, without modification or addition, and thus carries a high risk of implied affiliation that is contrary to the fact, thus preempting any notion of fair use. See section 2.5.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0. Coupled together with the pay-per-click links displayed at the disputed domain name, which target and capitalize on the Complainant’s reputation, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is not being used for a bona fide offering of goods or services. See section 2.9 of the WIPO Overview 3.0.
The Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy lists a number of factors which, if found by the panel to be present, shall be evidence of registration and use of a domain name in bad faith. This non-exclusive list includes:
“(i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) you have 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 you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, you 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 complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your website or location or of a product or service on your website or location.”
The disputed domain name fully reproduces the Complainant’s inherently distinctive LENDO trademark.
The Respondent has incorporated the Complainant’s trademark in the disputed domain name and used it to direct Internet users to a webpage displaying pay-per-click links related to financial products and services in competition with those of the Complainant.
This in view of the Panel not only demonstrates that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s trademark at the time of registration of the disputed domain name, but also the Respondent’s obvious intent to target the Complainant’s trademark through diverting Internet users to its website (or website under its control) without any authorization or rights to do so.
Using domain names incorporating third-party trademarks to divert Internet users to pay-per-click websites generating revenue for either the Respondent or anyone else is activity that is well within paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy and the Panel finds that paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy is satisfied.
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 <lendo.website> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: December 27, 2021