WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

LPL Financial LLC v. Withheld for Privacy Purposes, Privacy Service Provided by Withheld for Privacy ehf / DNS Admin, Intango LTD

Case No. D2021-4172

1. The Parties

The Complainant is LPL Financial LLC, United States of America (“United States”), represented by Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP, France.

The Respondent is Withheld for Privacy Purposes, Privacy Service Provided by Withheld for Privacy ehf, Iceland / DNS Admin, Intango LTD, Israel.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <lplfinanciallogin.com> is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 13, 2021. On December 13, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On December 16, 2021, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the 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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on December 17, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was January 6, 2022. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 12, 2022.

The Center appointed Alistair Payne 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

The Complainant is a listed public company on the NASDAQ exchange and was founded in 1989. It operates in the retail financial advice market and is considered the largest independent broker-dealer in the United States. It provides an integrated platform of brokerage and investment advisory services to more than 19,100 financial professionals and approximately 800 financial institutions, managing over USD 1.1 trillion in advisory and brokerage assets.

The Complainant owns United States Trademark Registration No. 1801076 for LPL, registered on October 26, 1993. It also owns United States Trademark Registration No. 3662425 for LPL FINANCIAL and device registered on August 4, 2009.

In addition, the Complainant owns many domain names consisting of or containing “lpl”, including <lpl.com> registered in 1994, from which it operates its main corporate website, as well as <lpl.net>, <lpl-financial.com>, and <lplaccountview.com>. The Complainant’s parent company, LPL Holdings, Inc., is the owner of the branded new generic Top-Level Domains (“gTLDs”) “.lpl” and “.lplfinancial”. It has a strong social media presence with an official Facebook page that has over 18,000 likes and over 23,000 followers on Twitter.

The disputed domain name was registered on August 8, 2021, and resolves to a parking page featuring pay-per-click links.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant says that it owns trade mark registrations for LPL and LPL FINANCIAL as set out above. It submits that the inclusion of the Complainant’s LPL and LPL FINANCIAL trade marks in their entirety in the disputed domain name is sufficient to establish confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s LPL and LPL FINANCIAL trade marks. It says that the disputed domain name is essentially identical to the Complainant’s LPL FINANCIAL trade mark, simply omitting the space between the elements “lpl” and “financial” and that it also includes the addition of the term “login”. For these reasons, the Complainant submits that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the LPL and LPL FINANCIAL trade marks in which the Complainant has rights.

The Complainant submits that the Respondent has not received any licence or other authorisation of any kind to make use of the Complainant’s trade marks in a domain name or otherwise and says the disputed domain name resolves to a parking page with pay-per-click clinks to various goods and services including some that operate in direct competition with the Complainant. This is not a bona fide offering of goods or services according to the Complainant. Nor, says the Complainant, is there any evidence to suggest that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name, or that it has acquired or applied for any trade mark registrations for “lpl” or “lpl financial”. Neither, according to the Complainant, is the Respondent making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers. In fact, says the Complainant, the Respondent is actively using the disputed domain name to resolve to a parking page featuring pay-per-click clinks to various goods and services including direct competitors, which use is clearly commercial in nature. Further, says the Complainant, the use in the disputed domain name of theLPL or LPL FINANCIAL marks together with the word “login” carries with it a high risk of implied affiliation with the Complainant. Therefore, submits the Complainant, such use cannot amount to either legitimate noncommercial use, or fair use.

The Complainant says that its LPL and LPL FINANCIAL trade marks are inherently distinctive and well known in connection with the Complainant's financial advisory services. It says that the Complainant’s trade marks have been continuously and extensively used for well over 10 years and have as a result acquired considerable reputation and goodwill. The Complainant submits that the Respondent could not credibly argue that it did not have knowledge of the Complainant and of its rights in the LPL and LPL FINANCIAL trade marks when it registered the disputed domain name in August 2021, some 28 years after the Complainant’s first registration of its LPL trade mark.

As noted above, the Complainant notes that the disputed domain name resolves to a parking page featuring pay-per-click links to various goods and services including certain of its direct competitors. It suggests that the Respondent derives click-through revenue from the presence of such links on the website to which the disputed domain name resolves. The Complainant submits that such use of the disputed domain name, from which the Respondent is seeking to obtain financial gain derived from the goodwill and reputation attached to the Complainant’s trade marks, amounts to clear evidence of bad faith.

The Complainant submits that by using the disputed domain name in such a manner, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s LPL and LPL FINANCIAL trade marks as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the links displayed on the website to which the disputed domain name resolves, in bad faith pursuant to paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant has demonstrated that it owns United States Trademark Registration No. 1801076 for LPL and United States Trademark Registration No. 3662425 for LPL Financial and device. The acronym “LPL” and word “financial” are clearly the dominant elements of the latter mark and the Panel finds that the Complainant owns registered trade mark rights in both the LPL and LPL FINANCIAL marks for the purposes of this limb of the Policy.

The disputed domain name wholly incorporates both the LPL and the LPL FINANCIAL marks and is therefore confusingly similar to marks in which the Complainant has registered trade mark rights under the Policy. The addition of “login” to the Complainant’s marks does not prevent confusing similarity. As a result, the Complaint succeeds under this element of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Complainant has submitted that it has not authorised or permitted the Respondent to use its trade marks in a domain name, or otherwise. The disputed domain name resolves to a parking page with pay-per-click links to various goods and services including some that operate in direct competition with the Complainant, which is clearly not evidence of a bona fide offering of goods or services. The Complainant has also submitted that there is no evidence to suggest that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name, or that it has acquired or applied for any trade mark registrations for “lpl” or “lpl financial”. In addition, the Complainant has asserted that the Respondent is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers. This is on the basis that the Respondent is actively doing the opposite by using the disputed domain name to direct Internet users to a parking page featuring pay-per-click links to various goods and services including direct competitors of the Complainant. It is apparent that this is for commercial purposes and that the use of the LPL or LPL FINANCIAL marks together with the term “login” carries with it a risk of implied affiliation with the Complainant and is intended to confuse or deceive Internet users seeking the Complainant’s website. This is neither noncommercial nor fair use of the disputed domain name. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition, sections 2.5.1 and 2.9.

The Panel finds that the Complainant has made out a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. As the Respondent has not rebutted the Complainant’s case, the Panel finds for this reason and as set out under Part C below, that the Complainant has successfully made out its case under this element of the Policy

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The disputed domain name was registered in August 2021 many years after the registration of the Complainant’s LPL and LPL FINANCIAL trade marks. The LPL element of these marks is distinctive and the marks have obviously developed a considerable amount of renown in connection with the Complainant’s financial advisory services in the United States based on the very substantial size of the Complainant’s business. The Complainant’s business also has a substantial online and reasonably sizeable social media presence accessible from all over the world. In these circumstances it is most likely that the Respondent, although based in Israel, was well aware of the Complainant and of its rights in the LPL and LPL FINANCIAL trade marks when it registered the disputed domain name in August 2021, some 28 years after the Complainant’s first registration of its LPL trade mark.

Under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy, there is evidence of registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith where a Respondent has used the disputed domain name to intentionally attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trade marks as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the website

As noted above, the disputed domain name resolves to a parking page featuring pay-per-click links to various goods and services including, says the Complainant, to the websites of certain of its direct competitors. It is very likely that the Respondent derives click-through revenue from the presence of such links on the website to which the disputed domain name resolves.

The Panel finds that by using the disputed domain name in such a manner, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s LPL and LPL FINANCIAL trade marks as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the links displayed on the website to which the disputed domain name resolves. This amounts to evidence of registration and use in in bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. The Respondent’s use of a privacy service to try to mask its identity only serves to reinforce the Panel’s view of its bad faith.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name was both registered and has been used in bad faith and the Complaint also succeeds under this element 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 <lplfinanciallogin.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Alistair Payne
Sole Panelist
Date: February 4, 2022