The Complainant is Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, Paris, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.
The Respondent is Daniel Delcore, France.
The disputed domain name <creditmutuel.lc> is registered with CSL Computer Service Langenbach GmbH dba Joker.com.
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 4, 2009. On February 4, 2009, the Center transmitted by email to CSL Computer Service Langenbach GmbH dba Joker.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On February 6, 2009, CSL Computer Service Langenbach GmbH dba Joker.com 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” or “UDRP”), 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 10, 2009. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was March 2, 2009. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on March 3, 2009.
The Center appointed Emmanuelle Ragot as the sole panelist in this matter on March 9, 2009. 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 Complainant is Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, a French Association registered under the law of July 1, 1901.
The Complainant is the political and central body of Credit Mutuel Banking Group, second French banking and insurance service group and operates a web portal under the uniform resource locator “www.creditmutuel.com” for all kinds of financial services and products, including online banking.
The Complainant provides services to more than 10 million clients and consists of a network of 3, 100 offices in France, managed through several regional groups. Furthermore, the Complainant has more than 40 offices outside of France.
The domain name <creditmutuel.lc> was registered on January 28, 2009.
The Complainant provides evidence of a number of trademark registrations consisting or including the term “credit mutuel” in France and abroad, for instance:
– CREDIT MUTUEL, French semi-figurative trademark n° 1475940 of July 8, 1988 classes 35 and 36 of 1957 Nice Agreement, renewed on May 15, 19981;
– CREDIT MUTUEL, French semi-figurative trademark n° 1646012 of November 20, 1990 in classes 16, 35, 36, 38 (internet services) and 41 of Nice Agreement, renewed on November 20, 20002;
– CREDIT MUTUEL semi-figurative international trademark n° 570182 of May 17, 1991 in classes 16, 35, 36, 38 and 41 of Nice Agreement, designating Benelux, Italy and Portugal3;
These rights have been continuously used in commerce since their registration.
The Complainant uses its trademark as domain names to promote its activities4 : <creditmutuel.eu> created on March 13, 2006 and <creditmutuel.mobi> created on September 26, 2006.
The Complainant is the registrant, under Euro-Information, which is the name of the computing subsidiary of Credit Mutuel Group, of the following domain names5: <creditmutuel.eu> created on October 28, 1995, <creditmutuel.net> created on October 3, 1996, <creditmutuel.info> created on September 13, 2001, <creditmutuel.fr> created on August 10, 1995.
All of these domains names are pointing to the official website of the Credit Mutuel6.
As a consequence, it should indisputably be considered that the Complainant has trademark rights on the wording CREDIT MUTUEL.
The Complainant asserts that it owns numerous registered trademarks, and it has registered numerous domain names that include the term “creditmutuel”.
The Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name which, according to the Complainant, is confusingly similar / identical to the Credit mutual group's trademarks.
The Complainant contends that the Respondent does not hold any registration for the trademark CREDIT MUTUEL or a similar mark.
The Complainant also states that the Respondent does not hold any license or any other type of authorization given by the legitimate holders of said trademarks to use them.
The Complainant also alleges that the Respondent does not use the disputed domain name <creditmutuel.lc> for a legitimate non-commercial or fair use. Rather, the Complainant contends that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name within the framework of a phishing attack. Accordingly, the Complainant requests the Panel to issue a decision to transfer the domain name <creditmutuel.lc> to the Complainant.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs the 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 states that the Complainant must prove that each of the three following elements are present:
(i) that the disputed domain name 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 respects of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The term “Credit Mutuel” is the essential part of numerous trademarks of the Complainant which are registered in several countries.
The disputed domain name <creditmutuel.lc> is identical to its trademark CREDIT MUTUEL which is one of the main French Banking groups.
A previous panel (cf Confederation Nationale du Crédit Mutuel v. Domains by Proxy, Inc./ Gomes Paulo /, WIPO Case No. D2008-0001) has decided, in a similar dispute relating to the domain name <creditmutuel.ws>, that “the domain name, being formed with the term CREDITMUTUEL must be considered as identical to the Complainant's mark CREDITMUTUEL. The absence of space or stresses between the component words “credit” and “mutuel” in the contested domain name is of no relevance.”
In the present case, the Panel does not hesitate to decide on the same basis that the disputed domain name is identical to the registered trademark CREDIT MUTUEL.
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy states that any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be proved based on its evaluation of all evidence presented, shall demonstrate the Respondent's rights or legitimate interests to the domain name for purpose of paragraph 4(a)(ii):
“(i) Before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) you are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue”.
It is well established from previous UDRP decisions (cf Croatian Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455) that the burden of proof shifts to the respondent where the complainant establishes a prima facie case showing the lack of rights and legitimate interests of the respondent to the disputed domain name. If the respondent fails to rebut the complainant's case, a complaint is deemed to have satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
In the present case, the Complainant states that it has not licensed or otherwise authorized the Respondent to use its trademarks. Furthermore, there is no evidence in the file showing any of the three circumstances under paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, or any other circumstance that would establish rights or legitimate interest of the Respondent.
The Respondent has not submitted any Response and thus failed to demonstrate that he has rights or legitimate interests in the domain name pursuant to paragraph 4(c)(i), 4(c)(ii), 4(c)(iii) of the Policy.
The Panel finds that the second element of the Policy has been established.
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy states that 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 you have registered or you have 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 your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) you have 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 you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) 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 you web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location”.
In the case at hand, the domain name <creditmutuel.lc> has been registered by the Respondent despite the fact that CREDIT MUTUEL is a known trademark for financial services.
Furthermore the Respondent is apparently using inaccurate information in the WhoIs details. As already stated in previous decisions, “the use of false contact information in Respondent's initial registration is evidence that the Respondent registered in bad faith”. (Chanel v. 1, WIPO Case No. D2003-0218 regarding <chanelbiz.com>).
The Respondent thus most likely knew that the term “Credit Mutuel” had a particular protection and value for a banking institution such as Credit Mutuel.
Furthermore, it may not be excluded that the main purpose of the website is to use it for phishing purposes.
The Complainant already faced phishing attempts and has to prevent its clients from phishing attacks.
Phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.
Phishing is typically carried out by email or instant messaging and if often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one.
Recent phishing attempts show that phishers are targeting the customers of banks and online payment services.
“Phishing” is a form of Internet fraud that aims to steal valuable information such as credit cards, social security numbers, user ids, passwords, etc.
A fake website is created that is similar to that of a legitimate organization, typically a financial institution such as a bank or insurance company and this information is used for identity theft and other nefarious activities (see Halifax plc v. Sontaja Sanduc, WIPO Case No. D2004-0237 and also CareerBuilder, LLC v. Stephen Baker, WIPO Case No. D2005-0251).
Additionally the Panel believes that “phishing” in this current instance would amount to bad faith as affecting or tarnishing to bad faith as affecting or tarnishing the image of the organization whose name, website design and layout has wrongly been used. (See also National Association of Software and Service Companies v. Ajay Sood (2005) F.S.R. 38, quoted under Banca Intesa S.p.A. v. Moshe Tal, WIPO Case No. D2006-0228).
The Panel concludes that pursuant to the facts as outlined above, the bad faith of the Respondent in the registration and use of the disputed domain name has been established by the Complainant.
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, <creditmutuel.lc> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: March 20, 2009
1 Annex D
2 Annex D2
3 Annex D3
4 Annex E
5 Annex F
6 Annex C