Home Depot Product Authority, LLC v. Jim Brainard
Claim Number: FA1707001739571
Complainant is Home Depot Product Authority, LLC (“Complainant”), represented by Richard J. Groos of King & Spalding LLP, Texas, USA. Respondent is Jim Brainard (“Respondent”), Tennessee, USA.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <homedepotmemphis.com>, registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC.
The undersigned certifies that he or she has acted independently and impartially and to the best of his or her knowledge has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding.
Sandra J. Franklin as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the Forum electronically on July 12, 2017; the Forum received payment on July 12, 2017.
On July 12, 2017, GoDaddy.com, LLC confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <homedepotmemphis.com> domain name is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. GoDaddy.com, LLC has verified that Respondent is bound by the GoDaddy.com, LLC registration agreement and has thereby agreed to resolve domain disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”).
On July 13, 2017, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint, setting a deadline of August 2, 2017 by which Respondent could file a Response to the Complaint, via e-mail to all entities and persons listed on Respondent’s registration as technical, administrative, and billing contacts, and to email@example.com. Also on July 13, 2017, the Written Notice of the Complaint, notifying Respondent of the e-mail addresses served and the deadline for a Response, was transmitted to Respondent via post and fax, to all entities and persons listed on Respondent’s registration as technical, administrative and billing contacts.
Having received no response from Respondent, the Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
On August 7, 2017, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed Sandra J. Franklin as Panelist.
Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the "Panel") finds that the Forum has discharged its responsibility under Paragraph 2(a) of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Rules") "to employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice to Respondent" through submission of Electronic and Written Notices, as defined in Rule 1 and Rule 2. Therefore, the Panel may issue its decision based on the documents submitted and in accordance with the ICANN Policy, ICANN Rules, the Forum's Supplemental Rules and any rules and principles of law that the Panel deems applicable, without the benefit of any response from Respondent.
Complainant requests that the domain name be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.
1. Respondent’s <homedepotmemphis.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s HOME DEPOT mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <homedepotmemphis.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and uses the <homedepotmemphis.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant has used the HOME DEPOT mark since 1979 in connection with home improvement goods and services. Complainant registered the HOME DEPOT mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) (Reg. No. 1,431,636, registered Mar. 10, 1987).
Respondent registered the <homedepotmemphis.com> domain name on January 26, 2015, and uses it to offer competing goods and services
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs this Panel to "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."
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred:
(1) the domain name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(2) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
In view of Respondent's failure to submit a response, the Panel shall decide this administrative proceeding on the basis of Complainant's undisputed representations pursuant to paragraphs 5(f), 14(a) and 15(a) of the Rules and draw such inferences it considers appropriate pursuant to paragraph 14(b) of the Rules. The Panel is entitled to accept all reasonable allegations and inferences set forth in the Complaint as true unless the evidence is clearly contradictory. See Vertical Solutions Mgmt., Inc. v. webnet-marketing, inc., FA 95095 (Forum July 31, 2000) (holding that the respondent’s failure to respond allows all reasonable inferences of fact in the allegations of the complaint to be deemed true); see also Talk City, Inc. v. Robertson, D2000-0009 (WIPO Feb. 29, 2000) (“In the absence of a response, it is appropriate to accept as true all allegations of the Complaint.”).
The Panel finds that Complainant has established rights in the HOME DEPOT mark through its registration with the USPTO. See Humor Rainbow, Inc. v. James Lee, FA 1626154 (Forum Aug. 11, 2015) (stating, “There exists an overwhelming consensus amongst UDRP panels that USPTO registrations are sufficient in demonstrating a complainant’s rights under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) and its vested interests in a mark. . . . Due to Complainant’s attached USPTO registration on the principal register at Exhibit 1, the Panel agrees that it has sufficiently demonstrated its rights per Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).”).
Respondent’s <homedepotmemphis.com> domain name incorporates the entire HOME DEPOT mark and adds the geographic term “Memphis” along with the gTLD “.com.” These changes do not distinguish the disputed domain name from Complainant’s for the purposes of Policy ¶4(a)(i). See General Motors LLC v. Domain Admin, Privacy Protection Service INC d/b/a PrivacyProtect.org, FA 1656166 (Forum Feb. 12, 2016) (finding respondent’s <gm-uzbekistan.com> domain name confusingly similar to complainant’s GM mark as the addition of the geographic term “uzbekistan” is inconsequential to a Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) analysis); see also Trip Network Inc. v. Alviera, FA 914943 (Forum Mar. 27, 2007) (concluding that the affixation of a gTLD to a domain name is irrelevant to a Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) analysis). Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent’s <homedepotmemphis.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s HOME DEPOT mark.
The Panel finds that Complainant has satisfied Policy ¶4(a)(i).
Once Complainant makes a prima facie case that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii), the burden shifts to Respondent to show it does have rights or legitimate interests. See Hanna-Barbera Prods., Inc. v. Entm’t Commentaries, FA 741828 (Forum Aug. 18, 2006) (holding that the complainant must first make a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name under UDRP ¶ 4(a)(ii) before the burden shifts to the respondent to show that it does have rights or legitimate interests in a domain name); see also AOL LLC v. Gerberg, FA 780200 (Forum Sept. 25, 2006) (“Complainant must first make a prima facie showing that Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interest in the subject domain names, which burden is light. If Complainant satisfies its burden, then the burden shifts to Respondent to show that it does have rights or legitimate interests in the subject domain names.”).
Complainant contends that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the <homedepotmemphis.com> domain name, and that Respondent is not commonly known by the HOME DEPOT mark. Complainant states that Respondent has no affiliation with Complainant, nor any permission or license to use the HOME DEPOT mark. The WHOIS identifies “Jim Brainard” as the registrant of the disputed domain name. Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent is not commonly known by the <homedepotmemphis.com> domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Braun Corp. v. Loney, FA 699652 (Forum July 7, 2006) (concluding that the respondent was not commonly known by the disputed domain names where the WHOIS information, as well as all other information in the record, gave no indication that the respondent was commonly known by the domain names, and the complainant had not authorized the respondent to register a domain name containing its registered mark); see also Navistar International Corporation v. N Rahmany, FA1505001620789 (Forum June 8, 2015) (finding that the respondent was not commonly known by the disputed domain name where the complainant had never authorized the respondent to incorporate its NAVISTAR mark in any domain name registration).
Complainant demonstrates that Respondent uses the <homedepotmemphis.com> domain name to offer countertop installation services in direct competition with Complainant. Using a confusingly similar domain name to directly compete with a complainant fails to provide a bona fide offering of goods or services or legitimate noncommercial or fair use. See Upwork Global Inc. v. Shoaib Malik, FA 1654759 (Forum February 3, 2016) (finding that Complainant provides freelance talent services, and that Respondent competes with Complainant by promoting freelance talent services through the disputed domain’s resolving webpage, which is neither a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor is it a legitimate noncommercial or fair use). Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent competes with Complainant and thus fails to use the disputed domain name for a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i), or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use per Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii).
The Panel finds that Complainant has satisfied Policy ¶4(a)(ii).
Complainant claims that Respondent registered and uses the <homedepotmemphis.com> domain name in bad faith as Respondent uses it to offer competing countertop installation services. Using a confusingly similar domain name to offer competing services to a complainant is evidence of bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Citadel LLC and its related entity, KCG IP Holdings, LLC v. Joel Lespinasse / Radius Group, FA1409001579141 (Forum October 15, 2014) (“Here, the Panel finds evidence of Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) bad faith as Respondent has used the confusingly similar domain name to promote its own financial management and consulting services in competition with Complainant.”). The Panel finds that Respondent registered and uses the disputed domain name to capitalize on the fame and notoriety of the HOME DEPOT mark and attract Internet users to its website, in bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv).
Complainant argues that Respondent uses the disputed domain name to obtain users’ personal information, including their names, email addresses, and phone numbers. The Panel notes a screenshot of Respondent’s website, with boxes for personal information to “Order Your FREE Estimate Now.” Using a confusingly similar domain name to phish for personal information is bad faith registration and use within the meaning of Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii). See Klabzuba Oil & Gas, Inc. v. LAKHPAT SINGH BHANDARI, FA1506001625750 (Forum July 17, 2015) (“Respondent uses the <klabzuba-oilgas.com> domain to engage in phishing, which means Respondent registered and uses the domain name in bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii).”). Thus, the Panel finds further bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii).
Complainant contends that Respondent must have had actual knowledge of the HOME DEPOT mark as it is widely known and famous in the United States, and there are dozens of Complainant’s stores in the Tennessee area of Respondent’s mailing address. The Panel agrees and finds that Respondent had actual knowledge of Complainant’s rights in the mark, and thus finds bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii). See Univision Comm'cns Inc. v. Norte, FA 1000079 (Forum Aug. 16, 2007) (rejecting the respondent's contention that it did not register the disputed domain name in bad faith since the panel found that the respondent had knowledge of the complainant's rights in the UNIVISION mark when registering the disputed domain name).
The Panel finds that Complainant has satisfied Policy ¶4(a)(iii).
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <homedepotmemphis.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Sandra J. Franklin, Panelist
Dated: August 8, 2017
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