WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel v. Wan-Fu China Ltd
Case No. D2006-1635
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, Paris, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.
The Respondent is Wan-Fu China Ltd, Nassau, Bahamas.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <credi-mutuel.com> is registered with BelgiumDomains, LLC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 21, 2006. On December 22, 2006, the Center transmitted by email to BelgiumDomains, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On December 23, 2006, BelgiumDomains, LLC 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 January 9, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was January 29, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 30, 2007.
The Center appointed Theda König Horowicz as the sole panelist in this matter on February 6, 2007. 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 belongs to the CREDIT MUTUEL Group which is active in the field of finance and banking. The CREDIT MUTUEL Group consists of a network of 3.100 offices in France managed through 18 regional banks and is ranked as the number two for online banking services.
The Complainant is implemented in several countries other than France, including in the United States of America.
The Complainant is the owner of several trademark registrations consisting of or including its name “Crédit Mutuel” in France and abroad including:
- CREDIT MUTUEL, French figurative trademark No. 1475940 of July 8, 1988, in international classes 35 and 36;
- CREDIT MUTUEL, French figurative trademark No. 1646012 of November 20, 1990, in international classes 16, 35, 36, 38 and 41;
- CREDIT MUTUEL, International trademark No. 570,182 of May 17, 1991, in international classes 16, 35, 36, 38 and 41, which covers Benelux, Italy and Portugal.
The Complainant is also the owner of various domain names comprising its name Crédit Mutuel, such as <creditmutuel.com> (since 1997), <credit-mutuel.com> and <credit-mutuel.eu>. The Complainant’s main website is at “www.creditmutuel.com”.
The Respondent registered the domain name <credi-mutuel.com> on November 20, 2006. The domain name at issue is pointing to a webpage in French on which several commercial links are displayed to websites in the field of banking and financial services.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Identical or Confusingly similar
The Complainant claims trademark rights over CREDIT MUTUEL which have been continuously used in commerce since their registration.
The Complainant contends that the domain name <credi-mutuel.com> is confusingly similar to its trademark CREDIT MUTUEL even if the domain name in dispute differs from the trademark by the omission of the letter [t] of the word [credit].
The Complainant also alleges that this misspelling does not avoid the risk of confusion as there is a close similarity both orally and visually with the Complainant’s trademark.
The Complainant contends that the risk of confusion is all the more important as the domain name at issue is pointing to a webpage on which several commercial links are displayed consisting of results in French language and in the field of banking and financial services.
Rights or legitimate interests
The Complainant alleges that it is not related in any way whatsoever to the Respondent. The Respondent is in the business of domain tasting and the Complainant has not authorized him to register and use the domain name in dispute.
The Complainant claims that the Respondent registered the domain name at issue only to take advantage of CREDIT MUTUEL’s fame and divert Internet users to competitors websites through a pay per click domain parking solution. Such use is not a bona fide offering of goods or services according to the Policy.
The Complainant contends that the Respondent therefore has no legitimate rights in the domain name in dispute.
Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant claims that is difficult to conceive that the Respondent could have been unaware of the trademark CREDIT MUTUEL at the time it applied for the registration of the confusingly similar domain name <credi-mutuel.com>.
The Complainant contends that the knowledge by the Respondent of the Complainants trademark is evidenced by the links set out on the webpage connected to the domain name in dispute, links which are exclusively relating to credit banking products or services offered by French companies.
The Complainant alleges that these commercial links generate revenue to the benefit of the Respondent which shows that the Respondent is using the domain name at issue in order to realize material benefit by diluting the fame and renown of the Complainant’s trademark.
The Complainant underlines that the registration of the domain name at issue is an example of typosquatting.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs the Complainant to prove each of the following:
(i) that the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel accepts the Complainant’s contention that it has established rights in the mark CREDIT MUTUEL deriving from its trademark registrations and its extensive use of that name for many years.
The domain name <credi-mutuel.com> is almost identical to the Complainant’s trademarks, the only difference being the omission of the letter “t” in the term “credit”.
The Panel thus concludes that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to trademarks in which the Complainant has rights. The first condition of Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is established.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has pointed the domain name to a webpage offering sponsored links to commercial websites of companies active in the field of banking and credit services, being the Complainant’s field of business. Furthermore, the webpage connected to <credi-mutuel.com> is in French, being the home language of the Complainant which is based in France.
Use of the domain name in connection with such sponsored links is not a bona fide offering of goods or services giving rise to a right or legitimate interests in the domain name. Previous panels have found that the operation of sponsored link services of this type designed to divert Internet users to other commercial sites by the use of domain names identical or similar to a complainant’s trademark, do not confer a legitimate right to or interest in a domain name (see for example MBI, Inc. v. Moniker Privacy Services/Nevis Domains LLC, WIPO Case No. D2006-0550; Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu v. Henry Chan, WIPO Case No. D2003—0584; Minka Lightinh, Inc. d/b/a v. Lee Wongi, WIPO Case No. D2004-0984; Bridgestone Corporation v. Horoshiy, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2004-0795.
In addition, the Respondent has not disputed the facts as presented by the Complainant and there is no evidence before the Panel to suggest that the Respondent either is commonly known by the domain name or is making a legitimate or non commercial use of the domain name.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the contested domain name . The second condition of Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is therefore fulfilled.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The record shows that the Complainant is active worldwide in the field of banking and has an extensive presence on the Internet notably through its official website “www.creditmutuel.com”.
Furthermore, the domain name in dispute is almost identical to the Complainant’s trademark and differs very little from the Complainant’s main domain name <creditmutuel.com>.
It is therefore very unlikely that the Respondent could have been unaware of the trademark CREDIT MUTUEL and the Complainant’s website “www.creditmutuel.com” when it registered the domain name at issue.
In addition, the evidence indicates that the Respondent uses the disputed domain name to advertise sponsored links relating to the field of banking and credit services, which are in the Complainant’s area of business, moreover in French. The Respondent has not disputed the Complainant’s contention that such use is generating revenue for the benefit of the Respondent.
The Panel is therefore of the view that the Respondent intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the website linked to the domain name at issue, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s website (Paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy).
Considering the above, the Panel concludes that the Respondent registered and is using the domain name at issue in bad faith. The third condition of Paragraph 4(a) the Policy is thus established.
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 <credi-mutuel.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Theda König Horowicz
Dated: February 20, 2007