WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Société Générale v. Deleting domain
Case No. D2007-1452
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Société Générale, of Paris, France, represented by Bird & Bird Solicitors, France.
The Respondent is Deleting domain, Harare, Zimbabwe.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <logitelnet.com> is registered with That Darn Name, Inc.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 2, 2007. On October 4, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to eNom for That Darn Name, Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On October 5, 2007, eNom for That Darn Name, Inc. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response. The Registrant listed in the original Complaint was different from the Registrant listed in the verification response. On October 17, 2007, eNom for That Darn Name, Inc notified the Center that due to a delay in the updating of the Whois database following transfer of the contested domain name to the Respondent just prior to the verification request, Whois details provided at the time of initial verification were those of the previous holder. On October 19, 2007 the Center requested an amendment of the Complaint to reflect the correct Registrant as Respondent. On October 22, 2007, the Complainant filed the amended Complaint. The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to 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 October 25, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was November 14, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on November 15, 2007.
The Center appointed William A. Van Caenegem as the sole panelist in this matter on November 27, 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 is the owner of the French trademark LOGITEL NET, No 013106494 filed on June 19, 2001, and covering services in international classes 35, 36, and 38.
The Complainant also owns various domain names incorporating the trademark LOGITEL, notably <logitelnet.fr>, registered on January 9, 2007, and <logitelnet.net> registered on November 30, 2001. Both domain names have been used by the Complainant since registration.
The contested domain name was apparently registered by the Respondent on October 2, 2007.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant contends that the domain name at issue is confusingly similar to its trademark LOGITEL NET. Because of their identical nature, there is a risk that a consumer may think that the domain directly refers to the Complainant's services.
The Complainant further contends that it is well known throughout France and the world in relation to banking and financial services. The contested domain name has been used to redirect to a portal website promoting the banking services offered on various websites exploited by the Complainant's competitors. On this portal website there are also hyperlinks consisting of misspelled versions of the Complainant's corporate name which do not resolve to the Complainant's websites. The Respondent's website does nothing to dispel the suggestion of a connection with the Complainant. The offering of goods or services on the Respondent's website is not bona fide since it does not meet the minimum requirements identified in Oki Data Americas, Inc, v. ASD Inc., WIPO Case No. D2001-0903.
The Complainant asserts that no license, consent or right entitling the Respondent to use a domain name incorporating the trademark LOGITEL NET exists. The Respondent was clearly aware that the trademark LOGITEL NET is used for banking services, as demonstrated by the presence on its portal website of the trademark SOCIETE GENERALE. Therefore the Respondent has no legitimate interest in the disputed domain name and has registered it with the intention to divert consumers and to prevent the Complainant from reflecting the trademark in a corresponding domain name. The Respondent has not made bona fide use of the disputed domain name because of the absence of authorization and because using a domain name to divert consumers for commercial gain does not amount to fair use
The Complainant further contends that the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith. The Respondent had no prior authorization relating to the LOGITEL NET trademark. The Complainant is a well known bank and the trademark LOGITEL NET is used to designate its activities, notably through its website “www.logitelnet.net”. The Complainant has an extensive international presence with various websites dedicated to its activities. The presence of the trademark SOCIETE GENERALE on the contentious website further demonstrates that the Respondent knows the Complainant, its trademarks and its activities. Further the contested domain name leads to a general portal promoting various of the Complainant's competitors, which demonstrates bad faith. Linking to competitor websites indicates a desire to tarnish the mark and to cause damage to the Complainant, as has been held by numerous Panels. By creating a link to competitor websites the Respondent also demonstrates his knowledge of the Complainant and its activities. Pretending that a website is the official website of the Complainant by using the latter's trademark establishes a bad faith registration. Registering the domain name at issue in the full knowledge of the Complainant and its activities is an opportunistic act seeking to disrupt the Complainant's activities. Even mere holding of an identical or confusingly similar domain name can be considered as disrupting the business of a rightful third party owner.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant is the registered owner of the trademark LOGITEL NET. The contested domain name is effectively identical to the registered trademark of the Complainant. The ‘.com' suffix is of no consequence. The fact that the domain name is rendered in lower case whereas the trademark registration is for LOGITEL NET in upper case is also of no consequence. The difference has no capacity to distinguish in the Internet environment.
The Panel finds that the contested domain name is identical to the Complainant's trademark LOGITEL NET.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has not been authorized or licensed by the Complainant to register or use a domain name incorporating its trademark LOGITEL NET. The Respondent has not demonstrated that it has any rights or legitimate interests in the contested domain name. The Respondent is not known by the term or name “logitel net” or “logitel”. By virtue of the Policy paragraph 4(c) the onus is on the Respondent to establish that it benefits from a right or legitimate interest, but no Response has been filed in this case.
The Respondent is not apparently known by the domain name. Furthermore, nothing inherent in the use the Respondent has made of the contested domain name persuades the Panel of any legitimate interest the Respondent may have. The Respondent has not used the domain name for the bona fide offering of goods or services. Rather, the contested domain name resolves to a portal website containing links redirecting consumers to websites offering both competing and apparently unrelated services. The Respondent does not directly offer goods or services itself through the website to which the contested domain name resolves, nor does the website disclose the true nature of the Respondent's relationship to the Complainant. The contested domain name is apparently being used by the Respondent to attract consumers by creating a false impression of a legitimate connection between the Respondent's website and the Complainant, relying for that purpose on a domain name incorporating the Complainant's trademark, then to divert consumers to other websites and services not connected to the Complainant.
The Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the contested domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant asserts that it is a significant corporation offering banking and financial services across the globe. However, although it may increase the likelihood that the Respondent was also aware of the Complainant's mark LOGITEL NET, that the Complainant is well known or notorious by its name and mark SOCIETE GENERALE is not in itself sufficient. The relevant initial question in terms of registration in bad faith is rather whether the Complainant's mark LOGITEL NET was known to the Respondent at the time of registration of the contested domain name. The Panel is persuaded that the mark LOGITEL NET and its connection to the Complainant was so known, for a number of reasons: The registration and extensive use of the trademark LOGITEL NET by the Complainant, inter alia in association with a number of websites connected with domain names incorporating that mark; the fact that the contested domain name resolves to a portal site containing links to banking and financial services; the fact that the Complainant's trademark SOCIETE GENERALE is found on that website; and the fact that the term LOGITEL NET is inherently distinctive, non-generic and relatively striking. The contested domain name was registered very recently by the Respondent.
As to use in bad faith, the Respondent has apparently used the contested domain name in connection with a portal website containing links to websites offering various services, some of which are in competition with the Complainant. The Respondent has adopted and used the domain name incorporating the Complainant's trademark LOGITEL NET in a manner which creates a false impression or suggestion in the mind of an internet user, of a legitimate connection between the Complainant and the website to which the domain name resolves. The Respondent has done nothing to dispel this suggestion or to clarify the true nature of its relationship with the Complainant. Rather it is apparent that it has sought to rely on this misleading impression of a legitimate connection with the Complainant to benefit financially, by attracting internet traffic to its portal website and offering the opportunity for clicking through to other service providers and websites.
The Panel finds that the contested domain name was registered and used in bad faith.
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, <logitelnet.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
WiIliam A. Van Caenegem
Dated: December 11, 2007