WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Credit Industriel et Commercial S.A., and Confederation Nationale Credit Mutuel v. Owen Webster
Case No. D2006-0165
1. The Parties
The Complainants are Credit Industriel et Commercial S.A. and Confederation Nationale Credit Mutuel, Paris, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.
The Respondent is Owen Webster, Sydney, Australia.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <cicbanque.com> and <credtmutuel.com> are both registered with Fabulous.com.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 7, 2006. On February 8, 2006, the Center transmitted by email to Fabulous.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain names at issue. On February 9, 2006, Fabulous.com transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details for the administrative, billing, and technical contact. The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”), 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(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on February 23, 2006. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was March 15, 2006. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 16, 2006.
The Center appointed Fabrizio Bedarida as the sole panelist in this matter on March 24, 2006. 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 the proceeding is English.
4. Factual Background
Credit Industriel Et Commercial, in short, CIC, is a French banking Group tracing its origin back to 1954. It has an international presence through branches displayed in Europe, Africa, Middle East, Latin America, North America and Asia.
Confederation Nationale Du Credit Mutuel consists of a network of 3100 offices in France managed through 18 regional banks. Besides, it ranks as the number one bank for on-line banking services on the TNS sofres award list.
In 1998, CIC and CREDIT MUTUEL merged into the Group Credit Mutuel – CIC which appears to be the second French banking and insurance service group, providing services to thirteen million clients.
Credit Industriel Et Commercial holds rights in the trademarks “CIC” and “CIC BANQUES” as respectively shown by French registration N. 358 524 of June 10, 1998, for CIC and International registration N. 585098 of April 10, 1992 for CIC BANQUES.
Moreover, it operates a main portal at the address “www.cic-banques.com”.
Confederation Nationale Du Credit Mutuel hold rights in the trademark “CREDIT MUTUEL” with French registration N. 1475940 of July 8, 1988, and International registration N. 570 182 of May 17, 1991.
In addition, Confederation Nationale Du Credit Mutuel operates a web portal under the uniform resource locator “www.creditmutuel.com”.
The Complainant is also the registrant of the following domain names:
<Cic.fr> registered on May 28, 1999;
<Cic-banques.fr> registered on April 24, 1996;
<Cic-banque.fr> registered on March 7, 2005;
<Cicbanque.fr> registered on March 7, 2005;
<Cic-banques.com> registered on December 13, 2000;
<Cic-banques.net> registered on December 28, 2000;
<Cic-banques.org> registered on december 28, 2000;
<Cic-banques.biz> registered on November 7, 2001;
<Cic-banques.info> registered on September 13, 2001
<Cicbanques.info> registered on October 14, 2004.
The Respondent registered the disputed domain names, <cicbanque.com> and <credtmutuel.com>, on October 6, 2005.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant submits that:
The disputed domain names are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks “CIC”, “CIC BANQUES” and “CREDIT MUTUEL”;
The Respondent has no right or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names, and he is not currently and has never been known under the names “CIC”, “CICBANQUE” or “CREDIT MUTUEL”;
No licence or authorization has been granted to the Respondent to make any use, nor apply for registration of the domain names <cicbanque.com> and <credtmutuel.com>;
The Respondent’s email address is associated with many domain name registrations, some of which infringing third parties trademark rights; and
The Respondent registered and uses the disputed domain names in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions. Thus, the Respondent has failed to submit any statement. He has not contested the allegations in the Complaint and the Panel shall decide on the basis of the Complainant’s submissions, and shall draw such inferences from the Respondent’s default that it considers appropriate (paragraph 14(b) of the Rules).
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.”
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists three elements that the Complainant must prove to merit a finding that the domain names registered by the Respondent be transferred to the Complainant:
1) the domain names are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark (“mark”) in which the Complainant has rights; and
2) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain names; and
3) the domain names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain names are almost identical to the Complainant’s trademarks, the only difference being in each case the lack of only one letter.
Therefore the Panel finds the disputed domain names <cicbanque.com> and <credtmutuel.com> to be confusingly similar to the trademarks “CIC BANQUES” and “CREDTMUTUEL” owned by the Complainant.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant must show that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names. The respondent in a UDRP proceeding does not assume the burden of proof, but may establish a right or legitimate interest in a disputed domain names by demonstrating, in accordance with paragraph 4(c) of the Policy:
a) that before any notice to the respondent of the dispute, he or she used or made preparations to use the domain names or a name corresponding to the domain names in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services;
b) that the respondent is commonly known by the domain names, even if he or she has not acquired any trademark rights; or
c) that the respondent intends to make a legitimate, non-commercial or fair use of the domain names without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark.
The Respondent has no connection or affiliation with the Complainant, who has not licensed or otherwise authorized the Respondent to use or apply for any domain name incorporating the Complainant’s trademarks. The Respondent has not alleged any facts or elements to justify prior rights and/or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names. The Respondent does not appear to make any legitimate use of the domain names for non-commercial activities. On the contrary, the Respondent is, for his own commercial gain, diverting Internet users looking for the Complainant’s services to the website associated with the disputed domain names. Such use cannot be considered bona fide.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the burden of proof with respect to paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
For the purpose of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of the Domain Names in bad faith:
i) circumstances indicating that the holder has registered or has acquired the domain names primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registrations 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 the holder’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain names; or
ii) the holder has registered the domain names in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that the holder has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
iii) the holder has registered the domain names primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
iv) by using the domain names, the holder has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the holder’s web site or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the holder’s web site or location or of a product or service on the holder’s web site or location.
Accordingly, for a complainant to succeed, the Panel must be satisfied that the domain names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
As claimed by the Complainant, the Respondent cannot as a coincidence have made the association of the trademark “CIC” and the French generic term “BANQUE”, which fully describes the Complainant’s activity.
In this sense, in Crédit Industriel et Commercial S.A v. Yu Ming, WIPO Case No. D2005-0458, it was considered that “the combination of words CIC BANK is obviously connected with the Complainant’s trademark and is not a word a trader would legitimately choose unless seeking to create an impression of an association with the Complainant.”
In addition, it is very unlikely that the Respondent might have chosen also the disputed domain name <credtmutuel.com> as a further coincidence.
The Panel agrees with the Complainant’s opinion that this latter registration is an example of typosquatting. Namely, the willing registration of a domain name which is basically a mispelling of the Complainant’s trademark “CREDIT MUTUEL” and particularly of the Complainant’s domain name <creditmutuel.com>. It should be noted that typosquatting has often been found to be inference of bad faith registration and use of a domain name.
In addition, the knowledge of the Complainant’s trademarks and activity by the Respondent at the time he applied for the disputed domain names is also proven by the hyperlinks set on the webpages “www.cicbanque.com” and “www.credtmutuel.com”, which mainly concern the field of credit banking products and/or services. In this sense, Credit Industriel et Commercial S.A., Banque Scalbert Dupont SA v. La Porte Holdings, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2004-1110, affirmed that “It is obvious, mainly from the categories of hyperlinks used by the Respondent on the litigious websites (banking and financial), that the latter was well aware of both Complainant’s identity and activities.”
In view of the above, and in the absence of contrary evidence, the Panel finds that the Respondent had actual knowledge of the Complainant’s trademarks when he registered the domain names. The Panel, in accordance with previous decisions issued under the UDRP, is of the opinion that actual knowledge of the Complainant’s trademarks and activities at the time of the registration of the disputed domain names may be considered an inference of bad faith. (See Parfums Christian Dior v. Javier Garcia Quintas and Christiandior.net, WIPO Case No. D2000-0226 and Sony Kabushiki Kaisha also trading as Sony Corporation v. Inja, Kil, WIPO Case No. D2000-1409, where it was stated that “It is inconceivable that the Respondent could make any active use of the disputed domain name without creating a false impression of association with the Complainant. The Respondent was not authorized by the Complainant to use neither its mark nor the disputed domain name”.
As regards the Respondent’s use of the domain names, it appears that the Respondent’s domain names are merely used to direct Internet users to a parking webpage on which several hyperlinks are displayed. By clicking on these hyperlinks, users are directed to competing third parties commercial websites.
By deflecting users, the Respondent has shown bad faith use of the domain names that clearly falls within the example given in article 4(a)(iv) of the Policy: “by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location”.
In Société des Bains de Mer et du Cercle des Etrangers à Monaco v. Montecarlo Online Casino (MOC), WIPO Case No. D2005-0338, regarding the domain name <montecarlo-onlinecasino.com>, the panel stated: “On the website resolving to the domain name at issue are offered on-line casino and other betting-games. The registration and use of a domain name containing the combination of the terms “Casino” and “Monte-Carlo” which are distinctive to Complainant’s business, thus appears to be an attempt to attract for commercial gain, Internet users to Respondent’s website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the website. This is evidence of bad faith registration and use pursuant to the Policy paragraph 4b(iii).”
For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the domain name <cicbanque.com> be transferred to Credit Industriel Et Commercial and that the domain name <credtmutuel.com> be transferred to Confederation Nationale Du Credit Mutuel.
Date: April 6, 2006