WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel v. Taing Sunnguon
Case No. D2011-1419
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, Paris, France, represented by Meyer & Partenaires, France.
The Respondent is Taing Sunnguon, Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <mutuel-credit.com> is registered with FastDomain, Inc.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 23, 2011. On August 23, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to FastDomain, Inc a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On August 23, 2011, FastDomain, Inc 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 August 25, 2011. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was September 14, 2011. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on September 15, 2011.
The Center appointed Miguel B. O'Farrell as the sole panelist in this matter on September 30, 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 Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, a French association registered on July 1, 1901.
The Complainant is the political and central body for the Crédit Mutuel Banking Group and is involved in the banking and insurance business.
The Complainant owns several trademark registrations composed of or including “credit mutuel”. Particularly, French Registration No. 1475940, CREDIT MUTUEL, in classes 35 and 36 of the Nice Classification; French Registration No. 1646012, CREDIT MUTUEL, in classes 16, 35, 36, 38 and 41; International Registration No. 570182, CREDIT MUTUEL, in classes 16, 35, 36, 38 and 41; and Community Trademark Registration No. 005146162, CREDIT MUTUEL LA BANQUE A QUI PARLER, in classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44 and 45.
The Respondent is Taing Sunnguon, located in Cambodia.
The disputed domain name <mutuel-credit.com> was created on June 24, 2011.
The disputed domain name resolves to a website containing sponsored links.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant asserts that it renders services in the personal banking and in the corporate area, having acquired great renown in the field of banking and insurance services in France and Europe.
The Complainant also contends that it operates a web portal under the uniform resource locator ”www.creditmutuel.com” dedicated to its products and services.
The Complainant claims that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its trademarks CREDIT MUTUEL and that the Respondent has neither legitimate interests nor rights in the disputed domain name, which was registered and is being used by the Respondent in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
For a complaint to succeed in a UDRP proceeding, under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, a complainant must prove that:
(i) The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the complainant has rights; and
(ii) The respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) The disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
In accordance with paragraph 15(a) of the Rules, the Panel shall decide the Complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, the Rules, and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant owns several trademark registrations for CREDIT MUTUEL, as noted under Section 4, “Factual Background” above.
The disputed domain name <mutuel-credit.com> incorporates the words “mutuel” and “credit”.
The Panel considers that the mere inversion of “credit” and “mutuel” in the disputed domain name <mutuel-credit.com> is not sufficient to avoid the great similarity between them and therefore to avoid confusion by Internet users between the Complainant’s trademarks and the disputed domain name. (See Banque Fédérative du Credit Mutuel, Credit Industriel et Commercial S.A. v. Keenan Azzeh, WIPO Case No. D2006-0712 and Viacom International Inc. v. Domains By Proxy, Inc./ Corey Mandell, WIPO Case No. DFR2009-0001, among others).
In view of the foregoing, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name <mutuel-credit.com> is confusingly similar to the trademarks in which the Complainant has rights, and therefore, the Complainant has succeeded on this first element under the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
According to paragraph 4(a) (ii), the second element that the Complainant must prove is that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. The Policy in its paragraph 4(c) sets out various ways in which a respondent may demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in a domain name.
Although the Policy states that the complainant must prove each of the elements in paragraph 4(a), it is often observed that it is difficult for a complainant to prove a negative, i.e., that a respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of a domain name. It has therefore become generally accepted under the Policy that, once a complainant has presented a clear prima facie showing of a respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests in a domain name, the burden of submitting evidence therefore shifts to the respondent. The respondent must then demonstrate its rights or legitimate interests in a domain name in order to refute the prima facie case.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has made a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests and so the burden of production has effectively been shifted to the Respondent, who did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions and, therefore, has not made such showing.
Moreover, there is no evidence showing that the Respondent is commonly known as or identified by “credit mutuel” . Furthermore, there is no evidence showing that the Respondent operates a business or any other organization under the disputed domain name.
For these reasons, and in absence of a plausible explanation from the Respondent in connection with its rights or legitimate interests, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Pursuant to paragraph 4(a) (iii) of the Policy, the third element that the complainant must prove is that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. The Policy, paragraph 4(b), sets out several circumstances which may be treated by the Panel as evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith.
The Complainant has identified itself as the second French banking and insurance service group which provides services to millions of clients in France and the rest of Europe.
Moreover the Complainant has proved to the Panel’s satisfaction that it owns trademark registrations for CREDIT MUTUEL.
Likewise, the Complainant has proved to the Panel’s satisfaction that the choice of wordings by the Respondent was probably not made randomly and that the Respondent has chosen the disputed domain name to benefit from the prestige of the Complainant’s trademarks by misleading Internet users to the Respondent’s website for commercial purposes and gain.
The Complainant has also proved to the Panel’s satisfaction that the Respondent’s website contains sponsored links which redirect Internet users to other online locations of competitors of the Complainant, and this can not be considered a bona fide use of the disputed domain name.
For these reasons, the Panel finds that the Respondent has both registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith and that the Complainant has therefore made out the third element of the case.
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, <mutuel-credit.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Miguel B. O'Farrell
Dated: October 4, 2011