loanDepot.com, LLC v. Expired domain caught by auction winner.***Maybe for sale on Dynadot Marketplace*** c/o Dynadot
Claim Number: FA1805001786281
Complainant is loanDepot.com, LLC (“Complainant”), represented by Hani Sayed of Rutan & Tucker LLP, California, USA. Respondent is Expired domain caught by auction winner.***Maybe for sale on Dynadot Marketplace*** c/o Dynadot (“Respondent”), California, USA.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <mellotitle.com>, registered with Dynadot, LLC.
The undersigned certifies that she has acted independently and impartially and to the best of 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 May 11, 2018; the Forum received payment on May 11, 2018.
On May 16, 2018, Dynadot, LLC confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <mellotitle.com> domain name is registered with Dynadot, LLC and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Dynadot, LLC has verified that Respondent is bound by the Dynadot, 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 May 16, 2018, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint, setting a deadline of June 5, 2018 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 May 16, 2018, 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 June 7, 2018, 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 <mellotitle.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s MELLO TITLE mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <mellotitle.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and uses the <mellotitle.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant uses the MELLO TITLE and MELLO marks in connection with its digital mortgage platform. Complainant holds common law rights in the marks dating back to March 6, 2017.
Respondent registered the <mellotitle.com> domain name on April 12, 2018, and uses it to solicit offers to purchase the domain name.
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.”).
Since the <mellotitle.com> domain name was created before Complainant filed a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Complainant claims commom law rights in the MELLO and MELLO TITLE marks dating back to when it first announced its platform services at the March 6, 2017, LendIt USA Conference, which is the world’s largest show in lending and financial technology. Common law rights are typically found through a showing that secondary meaning in the mark has been created in the minds of public. See Marquette Golf Club v. Al Perkins, 1738263 (Forum July 27, 2017) (finding that Complainant had established its common law rights in the MARQUETTE GOLF CLUB mark with evidence of secondary meaning, including “longstanding use; evidence of holding an identical domain name; media recognition; and promotional material/advertising.”). Complainant argues that it’s fame and name recognition allowed it to quickly establish secondary meaning in the MELLO brand, including MELLO TITLE, as a result of extensive advertising, media recognition, promotion, and consumer association. Traditionally, a secondary meaning is also established by evidence of a complainant’s sales figures, expenditures, and any other evidence indicating popularity in the mark as related to the complainant. See Gourmet Depot v. DI S.A., FA 1378760 (Forum June 21, 2011) (“Relevant evidence of secondary meaning includes length and amount of sales under the mark, the nature and extent of advertising, consumer surveys and media recognition.”). Complainant points to the fact that Complainant is one of the top five largest vendors by volume and acquires more than 500,000 potential borrowers every month, with 1,700 licensed loan officers holding more than 10,000 licenses to service borrowers in each state. Complainant has funded over $100 billion in home, personal, and home equity loans. The Panel finds that Complainant has submitted sufficient evidence to establish common law rights in the MELLO and MELLO TITLE marks for purposes of Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).
Respondent’s <mellotitle.com> is virtually identical to Complainant’s MELLO TITLE mark as it merely adds the “.com” gTLD to the mark. This change does not distinguish the disputed domain name from the incorporated mark. See Marquette Golf Club v. Al Perkins, FA 1738263 (Forum July 27, 2017) (“When a respondent’s domain name incorporates a mark in its entirety and merely adds a generic top-level domain (gTLD), “.com”, then the Panel may find that the disputed domain name is identical to Complainant’s mark.”). The Panel finds that Respondent’s <mellotitle.com> domain name is identical to Complainant’s MELLO TITLE 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 Advanced International Marketing Corporation v. AA-1 Corp, FA 780200 (Forum Nov. 2, 2011) (finding that a complainant must offer some evidence to make its prima facie case and satisfy Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii)); see also Neal & Massey Holdings Limited v. Gregory Ricks, FA 1549327 (Forum Apr. 12, 2014) (“Under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii), Complainant must first make out a prima facie case showing that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in respect of an at-issue domain name and then the burden, in effect, shifts to Respondent to come forward with evidence of its rights or legitimate interests”).
Complainant argues that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the <mellotitle.com> domain name, and is not commonly known by the disputed domain name. The WHOIS information of record for the <mellotitle.com> domain name lists the registrant as “Expired domain caught by auction winner.***Maybe for sale on Dynadot Marketplace*** c/o Dynadot.” There is no information on the record to indicate that Respondent holds any rights in the MELLO TITLE mark. The Panel therefore finds that Respondent is not commonly known by the <mellotitle.com> domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Usama Ramzan, FA 1737750 (Forum Jul. 26, 2017) (“We begin by noting that Complainant contends, and Respondent does not deny, that Respondent has not been commonly known by the <marlborocoupon.us> domain name, and that Complainant has not authorized Respondent to use the MARLBORO mark in any way. Moreover, the pertinent WHOIS information identifies the registrant domain name only as “Usama Ramzan,” which does not resemble the domain name. On this record, we conclude that Respondent has not been commonly known by the challenged domain name so as to have acquired rights to or legitimate interests in it within the purview of Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii).”).
Complainant also argues that Respondent’s lack of rights and legitimate interests in the <mellotitle.com> domain name is demonstrated by its failure to use the name to make a bona fide offering of goods or services or for a legitimate noncommercial or fair use. Complainant provides screenshots of the resolving webpage that displays the domain name for sale and provides the option to either buy for the asking price or make another offer. The Panel finds that this use does not demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the <mellotitle.com> domain name under Policy ¶¶ 4(c)(i) or (iii). See Enterprise Holdings, Inc. v. Huang Jia Lin, FA1504001614086 (Forum May 25, 2015) (“Accordingly, the Panel finds that Respondent’s general attempt to sell the disputed domain name is further evidence of Respondent’s lack of rights and legitimate interests under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).”).
The Panel finds that Complainant has satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).
Complainant contends that Respondent’s bad faith is indicated by its registration of the disputed domain name for the purpose of transferring it for a profit. Complainant shows that Respondent offers the disputed domain name for sale for $950, no doubt above its out-of-pocket costs. The Panel finds that this constitutes bad faith under Policy ¶4(b)(i). See Citigroup Inc. v. Kevin Goodman, FA1506001623939 (Forum July 11, 2015) (holding that the evidence showed that the respondent registered the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of transferring it for a profit and demonstrates the respondent’s bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(i).).
Complainant argues that Respondent had actual knowledge of Complainant’s rights in the MELLO and MELLO TITLE marks because Complainant engaged in substantial pre-promotion of its services using the marks, resulting in extensive media coverage. The Panel agrees and finds further bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii). See Immigration Equality v. Brent, FA 1103571 (Forum Jan. 11, 2008) ("That Respondent proceeded to register a domain name identical to, and with prior knowledge of Complainant's mark is sufficient to prove bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii).")."
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 <mellotitle.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Sandra J. Franklin, Panelist
Dated: June 8, 2018
Click Here to return to the main Domain Decisions Page.
Click Here to return to our Home Page