WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
La Mutuelle Assurance des Instituteurs de France - MAIF v. Click Cons. Ltd.
Case No. D2007-1178
1. The Parties
The Complainant is La Mutuelle Assurance des Instituteurs de France - MAIF, of Niort Cedex, France, represented by Lecat et Associés, France.
The Respondent is Click Cons. Ltd., of Nassau, Bahamas.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <wwwmaif.com> is registered with BelgiumDomains, LLC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 8, 2007. On August 13, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to BelgiumDomains, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On August 14, 2007, 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. 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 September 25, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 15, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 16, 2007.
The Center appointed Edoardo Fano as the sole panelist in this matter on October 22, 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.
The Panel has not received any requests from the Complainant or the Respondent regarding further submissions, waivers or extensions of deadlines, and the Panel has not found it necessary to request any further information from the parties (taking note of the Respondent’s default in responding to the Complaint).
Having reviewed the communication records in the case file provided by the Center, the Panel finds that the Center has discharged its responsibility under the Rules, paragraph 2(a), “to employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice to Respondent”. Therefore, the Panel shall issue its decision based upon the Complaint, the Policy, the Rules and the Supplemental Rules and without the benefit of the Respondent’s response.
The language of the proceeding is English, being the language of the Registration Agreement.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is La Mutuelle Assurance des Instituteurs de France - MAIF, a mutual insurance company covering all insurance fields, in particular car insurance.
The Complainant is the owner of the following trademark registrations:
- French registration for MAIF No. 3.026.694;
- French registration for MAIF, ASSUREUR MILITANT No. 3.027.025;
- French registration for MAIF, ASSUREUR MILITANT and device No. 3.033.515.
The Complainant provided evidence in support of the above-mentioned trademark registrations.
The Complainant’s trademark rights in the acronym MAIF, mainly associated with insurance, financial affairs, monetary affairs, real estate affairs, information transmission through the Internet nework, date back to the year 2000.
The Respondent’s domain name <wwwmaif.com> was registered on August 23, 2006. It points to a webpage with, among other languages, French links mainly to insurance services.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant states that the disputed domain name <wwwmaif.com> is confusingly similar to its trademark MAIF, since both the prefix “www” and the suffix “.com” are generic part of a domain name.
Moreover, the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name at issue since it is neither a licensee of the Complainant nor otherwise authorized to use the trademark MAIF.
The Respondent is not commonly known by the domain name and is not using the domain name in question in connection with a bona fide offering of goods/services.
The Complainant further contends that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Respondent is using the disputed domain name to divert Internet users to insurance companies which are direct competitors of the Complainant.
The Complainant requests the Panel to issue a decision that the disputed domain name be transferred to the Complainant.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions and is in default: no exceptional circumstances explaining the default have been put forward.
A respondent is not obliged to participate in a proceeding under the Policy but if it fails to do so, facts asserted by the complainant may be taken as true and reasonable inferences by the panel, in accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules (see also Reuters Limited v. Global Net 2000, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0441; Microsoft Corporation v. Freak Films Oy, WIPO Case No. D2003-0109; SSL International plc v. Mark Freeman, WIPO Case No. D2000-1080; Alta Vista Company v. Grandtotal Finances Limited et al., WIPO Case No. D2000-0848; Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, Caisse Fédérale du Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe v. Marketing Total S.A., WIPO Case No. D2007-0288).
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists three elements, which the Complainant must satisfy in order to succeed:
(i) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
As far as the first of these elements is concerned, the Panel finds that the Complainant is the owner of the trademark MAIF both by registration and acquired reputation and that the disputed domain name <wwwmaif.com> is confusingly similar to this trademark.
It is well accepted that a top-level domain, in this case “.com”, is to be ignored when assessing identity of mark and domain name (see, e.g., VAT Holding AG v. vat.com, WIPO Case No. D2000-0607).
The prefix “www” is also not distinctive when dealing with domain names (see, e.g. Crédit Industriel et Commercial v. Domain Drop S.A., WIPO Case No. D2007-0666; American Automobile Association, Inc. v. Bladimir Boyiko and Andrew Michailov, WIPO Case No. D2006-0252).
Moreover, the Complainant is largely known under the acronym MAIF as it can be appreciated from the Complainant’s official website “www.maif.com”.
The Complainant has therefore met the burden of proving that the domain name at issue is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark, pursuant to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has failed to file a Response in accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5.
The Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in the domain name. The Complainant has stated that the Respondent is not developing business in the insurance field. The Respondent is not using the disputed domain name for a legitimate noncommercial or fair use or in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. The Respondent is redirecting Internet users to websites competing with the Complainant.
The prima facie case presented by the Complainant is enough to shift the burden of proof to the Respondent to demonstrate that it has a right or legitimate interest in the domain name. However, the Respondent has not presented any evidence of any rights or legitimate interests it may have in using the disputed domain name.
The Panel therefore finds that the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii), has been satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides that for the purposes 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 a domain name in bad faith:
(i) circumstances indicating that the Respondent has registered or has acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration 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 its documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) that the Respondent has registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that the Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) that the Respondent has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) that by using the domain name, the Respondent had intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent’s website 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 the Respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on the Respondent’s website or location.
The Panel is of the opinion that the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith. Specifically, the domain name was registered and has been used by the Respondent in order to divert Internet users to Complainant’s competitors websites.
It is apparent that the Respondent is aware of both the Complainant and its activities, since the disputed domain name incorporating the Complainant’s trademark is the URL of a website with many links to insurance services.
The Complainant’s official website has the URL “www.maif.com”. In the absence of a different explanation, the Panel is of the opinion that Internet users searching for the Complainant’s website may fail to type the first dot and therefore enter the website having as URL the contested domain name, where insurance services of the Complainant’s competitors are offered through links. That possible confusion may provide business opportunities for the Complainant’s competitors as well as revenues for the Respondent (see, e.g. Crédit Industriel et Commercial v. Domain Drop S.A., WIPO Case No. D2007-0666; American Automobile Association, Inc. v. Bladimir Boyiko and Andrew Michailov, WIPO Case No. D2006-0252).
Considering the above, the Panel finds that the Complainant has presented sufficient evidence to satisfy its burden of proof with respect to the issue of whether the Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith. The Panel therefore finds that the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii) has been satisfied.
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 <wwwmaif.com> be transferred to the Complainant, namely to La Mutuelle Assurance des Instituteurs de France - MAIF.
Dated: November 5, 2007