WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie Franco-Indienne (CCIFI) v. ANEMRO, Peter Matovu Mwanje
Case No. D2011-0799
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie Franco-Indienne (CCIFI) of Levallois, France, represented by Baker & McKenzie, France.
The Respondent is ANEMRO, Peter Matovu Mwanje of London, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <ccifranceinde.com> is registered with 1&1 Internet AG.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 6, 2011. On May 6, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to 1&1 Internet AG a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On May 10, 2011, 1&1 Internet AG 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 May 13, 2011. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was June 2, 2011. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 3, 2011.
The Center appointed Torsten Bettinger as the sole panelist in this matter on June 20, 2011. 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 a bilateral business organization active in both France and India which aims to promote business networking and commerce between the two countries. It is organized according to the French Law on Associations of July 1, 1901, and now has over 500 active members. The Complainant was founded in Paris in 1983 and in Mumbai in 1977, and holds statutory rights in its name pursuant to a French ministerial decree dated July 27, 1987. Furthermore, the Complainant was granted a trademark for its CHAMBRE DE COMMERCE ET D’INDUSTRIE FRANCO INDIENNE CCIFI mark (hereinafter the “CCIFI mark”) on July 2, 2010 through the French trademark office.
The disputed domain name was registered on November 22, 2006, and has apparently been used (according to the records available on the Internet archive “www.waybackmachine.org”) since at least April 2007 to display a website which very nearly mimics that of the Complainant’s official website available at “www.ccifi.com”. A scrolling banner apparently displaying the trademarks of constituent corporations, comparable in look and feel to a similar banner shown on the Complainant’s second website “www.ifcci.org.in”, is also present on the Respondent’s website. The Panel notes that the scrolling corporate insignia shown on the Respondent’s and Complainant’s banners are not identical, but no further information on this point is apparent from the case file. The Panel further notes that text available on the Respondent’s website appears to identify the Respondent as the Complainant, replicating much of the Complainant’s background and historical information.
The Respondent’s website, although nearly identical to the Complainant’s site in many respects, provides a different physical address, contact email, and telephone number from the Complainant. Additionally, it lists prices for annual membership fees, as well as an online application for membership.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant asserts that each of the elements specified in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been satisfied.
In reference to the element in paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy, the Complainant argues that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its CCIFI mark as it includes the common abbreviation for Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie, “cci”, and the words “France” and “Inde”. Additionally, the Complainant alleges the gTLD “.com” is not a distinguishing element.
The Complainant further contends that it has not authorized the Respondent to use its CCIFI mark in any fashion, that the Respondent has no connection to the Complainant, and that the Respondent is not using the disputed domain name in connection with any bona fide commercial, noncommercial or fair use.
Finally, the Complainant states that the disputed domain name was registered and has been used in bad faith as the Respondent was clearly aware of the Complainant and its marks, evidenced by the fact the Respondent attempts to impersonate the Complainant on its website. The Complainant argues that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name in order to divert Internet traffic to its website for commercial gain in violation of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy, and further that the Respondent’s bad faith is made clear by its failure to reply to a cease-and-desist letter.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The test of identity or confusing similarity under the Policy is confined to a comparison of the disputed domain name and the trademark alone, independent of the products for which the domain name is used or other marketing and use factors usually considered in trademark infringement. See F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG v. P Martin, WIPO Case No. D2009-0323; BWT Brands, Inc and British American Tobacco (Brands), Inc v. NABR, WIPO Case No. D2001-1480; and Arthur Guinness Son & Co. (Dublin) Limited v. Dejan Macesic, WIPO Case No. D2000-1698.
In this case, the disputed domain name was registered in November of 2006, and the Complainant’s French trademark did not come into force until July 2, 2010. The Panel notes, however, that the Complainant was granted the right to use its name, Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie Franco-Indienne, by French ministerial decree in 1987 and has used such name in connection with its international business activities since that time. Additionally, the Complainant has maintained an online presence since at least 2004, when its <ifcci.org.in> domain name was registered. Given the longstanding use of the CCIFI name in connection with its international business activities, in both India and France, the Panel finds the Complainant had established sufficient unregistered trademark rights, for the purposes of the Policy, at the time the disputed domain name was registered.
The textual string of the disputed domain name in this case consists of “cci”, an apparently well-known abbreviation for “Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie” (in English “Chamber of Commerce”), and “franceinde”, in which the geographic terms “France” and “Inde” are distinguishable. The geographic term “France” is clearly is the noun form of the adjective “Franco”, as well as one of the Complainant’s two primary business locations. “Inde”, which is the French spelling of the word “India”, is again the noun form of the adjective “Indienne”. Thus, the disputed domain name is composed merely of an abbreviation of the first three words of the Complainant’s mark, combined with slight grammatical alterations to the fourth and fifth words of that mark. These intentional modifications of the Complainant’s CCIFI mark, which retain the same order and meaning of the words comprising said mark, lead the Panel to conclude that the overall impression created by the domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark. This impression is further strengthened by the fact the Complainant often identifies itself through its initials (which also form the final segment of its registered trademark), CCIFI, thus enhancing the inherent likelihood of confusion.
Additionally, the Panel would note that the textual string “ccifranceinde” does not appear to have any apparent or sensible meaning outside of the context of the Complainant’s trademark, and as such cannot be considered a generic or descriptive term.
Finally, it is well established that a gTLD suffix, such as “.com”, is generally held to be irrelevant for the purposes of determining identity or confusing similarity under the Policy. See Rollerblade, Inc. v. Chris McCrady, WIPO Case No. D2000-0429.
The Panel thus finds that the disputed domain name <ccifranceinde.com> is confusingly similar to the Complainant's CCIFI mark and that the Complainant has established the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy requires the Complainant to prove that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. However, it is the consensus view among UDRP panelists that if the complainant makes a prima facie case that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests, and the respondent fails to show one of the three circumstances under paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, then the respondent may lack a legitimate interest in the domain name. See Belupo d.d. v. WACHEM d.o.o., WIPO Case No. D2004-0110.
In this case, the Complainant has made a prima facie showing that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Complainant confirms that it has not licensed or authorized the Respondent to use its CCIFI mark in any fashion and that there is no connection between the Respondent and the Complainant.
There is no evidence in the publicly-available WhoIs records to indicate that the Respondent is commonly known by the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name. The Respondent appears to be an individual located in England associated with an organization called ANEMRO. Additionally, as the Respondent’s website essentially replicates that of the Complainant, including its color scheme, banner display appearance and the Complainant’s logo, it is clear that the Respondent tailored its website to give the impression of association, or indeed identity with the Complainant. The Respondent’s website differs in some respects, as indicated above, in that it gives different address and contact information, and additionally lists a variety of prices on several of the site’s sub-pages for which membership benefits may be purchased. Thus, it is clear the Respondent has registered its domain name, and developed an impersonating website, for the generation of commercial gain. Such use is neither noncommercial nor fair in nature, and it cannot constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services as it is trades on the goodwill of the Complainant’s trademark in order to generate revenue.
The Respondent has not filed any Response in this matter, and therefore has not provided any evidence of circumstances of the type specified in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, or any other factors giving rise to a right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. The Panel notes that if the Respondent had any such rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, one would expect him to come forward with evidence and explanations. See LEGO Juris A/S v. Hafeez Chudhary, WIPO Case No. D2011-0502.
Under these circumstances, the Panel takes the view that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name and that the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(ii) is also satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant provided evidence that its CCIFI mark is globally recognized in connection with its business activities in both France and India, and has been in use since at least 1987 when statutory protection for its name was granted by the French government. Moreover, the website active at the disputed domain name replicates the look and feel of the Complainant’s website at “www.ccifi.com”, and borrows the scrolling banner concept (displaying corporate logos) from the Complainant’s “www.ifcci.org.in” site. Although the Respondent registered its domain name nearly four years before the Complainant’s French trademark issued, the Internet archive shows that the Respondent’s website has displayed the same content since at least as early as April 2007, the earliest available archive for the site. Therefore, the Panel finds it inconceivable that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name while unaware of the Complainant and its rights in the CCIFI mark. See Stoneygate 48 Limited and Wayne Mark Rooney v. Huw Marshall, WIPO Case No. D2006-0916; The Go Daddy Group, Inc. v. GlowHost.com, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2009-0055; and MADRID 2012, S.A. v. Scott Martin-MadridMan Websites, WIPO Case No. D2003-0598.
The Complainant alleges, and the Respondent does not refute, that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name and created its copycat website for the purpose of commercial gain. From a review of the Respondent’s website, the Panel has confirmed that at least two pages discuss the annual fees apparently charged by the Respondent, which range from 295 EUR to over 2,000 EUR. This, in concert with the Respondent’s obvious intent to pass itself off as the Complainant through the look and feel of its website, makes it clear that the Respondent intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of its site. Pursuant to paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy, the Respondent’s actions are thus evidence of its bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the disputed domain name <ccifranceinde.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: July 4, 2011