WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel v. Sanim Sanida, Lou Koinh
Case No. D2014-0472
1. The Parties
Complainant is Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel of Paris, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.
Respondents are Sanim Sanida and Lou Koinh of Paris, France.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain names <creditmutuelclients.info> and <creditmutuelclients.org> are registered with Domain.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 26, 2014. On March 26, 2014, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On March 26 and 31, 2014, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that Respondents are 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 Respondents of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on April 8, 2014. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was April 28, 2014. Respondents did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondents’ default on April 29, 2014.
The Center appointed Christian Pirker as the sole panelist in this matter on May 5, 2014. 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
Complainant, Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, is a French entity registered on July 1, 1901. Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel is the political and central body for the Crédit Mutuel Banking Group. Crédit Mutuel is an important French banking and insurance service group which has been providing services to approximately 12 (twelve) millions of clients for more than a century and operates a network of 3178 offices in France through 18 regional bank federations.
Complainant owns numerous trademarks and submits, in support of its Complaint against Respondents a list and copies of Trademark office deposits, among others:
- CREDIT MUTUEL, French semi-figurative trademark Registration No. 1475940 in classes 35 and 36, registered on July 8, 1988, renewed on August 27, 2008;
- CREDIT MUTUEL, French semi-figurative trademark Registration No. 1646012 in classes 16, 35, 36, 38 (internet services) and 41, registered on November 20, 1990 and renewed on September 15, 2010;
- CREDIT MUTUEL, nominative Community trademark Registration No. 9943135 in classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 38, 41, 42 and 45, registered on May 5, 2001;
- CREDIT MUTUEL, semi-figurative International trademark Registration No. 570182 in classes 16, 35, 36, 38 and 41, registered on May 17, 1991. .
Additionally, Complainant and related entities own several domain names to present their products and services:
1. <creditmutuel.com> registered on October 28, 1995;
2. <creditmutuel.fr> registered on August 10, 1995;
3. <creditmutuel.net> registered on October 3, 1996;
4. <creditmutuel.info> registered on September 13, 2001;
5. <creditmutuel.org> registered on June 3, 2002.
The disputed domain names are:
<creditmutuelclients.org> created on December 12, 2013;
<creditmutuelclients.info> created on October 4, 2013.
5. Parties’ Contentions
According to paragraph 3(c) and 10(e) of the Policy, the Complainant considers that the owners of the disputed domain names are the same person/entity and that its request may be consolidated regarding the disputed domain names into a single administrative proceeding.
Complainant claims that the disputed domain names <creditmutuelclients.org> and <creditmutuelclients.info> are confusingly similar to its trademarks CREDIT MUTUEL since they reproduce its “well-known” trademark in its entirety. The generic Top-Level domain name extension does not give any distinctive character to a domain name. Moreover, the addition of a generic or descriptive word such as “clients” does not prevent the radicals from being confusingly similar to CREDIT MUTUEL.
Further, Complainant claims that Respondents have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names <creditmutuelclients.org> and <creditmutuelclients.info> since Respondents are not related in any way to Complainant’s business. No license or authorization has been granted to Respondents to make any use, nor apply for registration of the disputed domain names. Moreover, Complainant also claims that the disputed domain names have been registered to take advantage of its reputation and to divert Internet users from its websites. Complainant considers that the use of false identities in the WhoIs is evidence of lack of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names. Moreover, the disputed domain names were registered in bad faith, since it is difficult to imagine that Respondents could have ignored Complainant’s well-known trademarks when they registered domain names that are confusingly similar to such trademarks. Complainant considers that Respondents made large efforts to hide their identity (by creating two fictitious identities), which demonstrates their obvious bad faith behavior at the time of registration of the disputed domain names. Finally, Complainant explains that the disputed domain names are being used in bad faith. The choice of this combination of words in the disputed domain names and the use of the domain names as parking pages demonstrate that Respondents are seeking to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to their pay-per-click (“PPC”) websites, which constitutes bad faith use.
Respondents did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
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 a complainant must prove that each of the three following elements are present:
(i) that the domain name registered by the respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant have rights; and
(ii) that the respondent has no right nor legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Respondent Identity
As mentioned in previous cases, “from a purely procedural perspective, it is not particularly significant who is named as a respondent in the heading of a complaint. Further, a complainant will also usually satisfy its procedural obligations under the Policy by identifying as the “respondent” the person or persons named in the publically available WhoIs register at the time that the Complaint is filed with the Center. See, e.g., RapidShare AG, Christian Schmid v. PrivacyAnywhere Software, LLC, Mikhail Berdnikov (Protected Domain Services Customer ID: DSR-2262893, Protected Domain Services Customer ID: DSR-2092987) and RapidShare AG, Christian Schmid v. Winsoul, Inc., Aleksey Atushev (Protected Domain Services Customer ID:DRS-2239262), WIPO Case No. D2010-0894.
Previous panels found that common control or ownership has been found in circumstances indicating that a single person or entity registered domain names using fictitious names. See e.g. Confédédation Nationale du Crédit Mutuel v. Mark Leparoux / Locked Domain and David William / Locked Domain / Pending UDRP result Locked Domain, WIPO Case No. D2013-1305; Yahoo! Inc v. Somsak Sooksripanich and others, WIPO Case No. D2000-1461; Yahoo! Inc. v. Yahoosexy.com, Yahoo-sexy.com, Yahoosexy.net, Yahousexy.com and Benjamin Benhamou, WIPO Case No. D2001-1188; FragranceX.com, Inc. v. Argosweb Corp a/k/a Oleg Tecino in this name and under various aliases […], WIPO Case No. D2010-1237, IM Production v. Liu An Qiang, Liu An, Liu An Fu, Liu An Xing, Liu An Jin, WIPO Case No. D2011-2318.
In the current case, the following facts regarding Respondents are similar:
- the radicals of the domain names “creditmutuelclients” are identical and both used in their entirety in each disputed domain name;
- the disputed domain names were registered within the same registrar;
- both disputed domain names redirect to the same pay-per-click (PPC) website;
- the domain name server information and the IP address are identical;
- the Respondents details are obviously fictitious and similar in their inaccuracy (same wrong zip code, same wrong country code, same email extension which do not revert to an existing email, both adresses do not exist).
The above mentioned troubling resemblances about personal data of the registrants cannot be a coincidence. As stated by previous panels, maybe there are answers to all of the points put by the Complainant in respect of these domain names but prima facie this is evidence of common control or ownership. In the absence of any compelling evidence on this issue to the contrary, the Panel holds for the purposes of these proceedings that this is the case and that consolidation is warranted (see Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Inc. dba Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield and also dba Empire Blue Cross v. Private Whois Service / Search and Find LLC. / Michigan Insurance Associates / 4 Letter Domains Inc. / New York Health Ins., WIPO Case No. D2010-1699).
B. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The term “creditmutuel” is included in Complainant’s trademarks which are registered in numerous countries including France, in various classes (e.g. 16, 35, 36, 38, 41, 42 and 45), mainly for banking and insurance services.
As mentioned above, the disputed domain names are <creditmutuelclients.info> and <creditmutuelclients.org> and the question is therefore whether the disputed domain names are identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademarks. Previous UDRP panels have decided that “essential” or “virtual” identity is sufficient.
In the present case, the trademark CREDIT MUTUEL is included in its entirety in the disputed domain names. Moreover, the adjunction of the word “clients” to “creditmutuel” in the disputed domain names does not diminish the confusing similarity with the trademark, since the essential part of the disputed domain names and the trademark is the term “creditmutuel” and the word “clients” is an ordinary English world. Domain names that combine a descriptive term with another’s trademark have been held to be confusingly similar to the trademark.
It further appears to the Panel that such descriptive component added to Complainant’s trademark even adds to the confusion by leading Internet users to believe that Complainant or some entity associated with it operates the website associated to the disputed domain name. See e.g. Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche AG v. Vasiliy Terkin, WIPO Case No. D2003-0888; AT&T Corp. v. WorldclassMedia.com, WIPO Case No. D2000-0553; Scholastic Inc. v. 366 Publications, WIPO Case No. D2000-1627.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that disputed domain names <creditmutuelclients.org> and <creditmutuelclient.info> are confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademark CREDIT MUTUEL in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
C. Rights or Legitimate Interests
According to paragraph 4 (c) of the Policy a respondent can establish its rights or legitimate interests in its domain name if it shows the presence of any of the following circumstances:
“(i) before any notice to Respondent of the dispute, Respondent 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) Respondent (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the Domain Name, even if the Respondent have acquired no trademark or service mark rights ; or
(iii) Respondent is 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 for Complainant to demonstrate that Respondents lack rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names. Provided that Complainant is successful in demonstrating that this condition is met prima facie, it is for Respondents to demonstrate their rights or legitimate interests. Accordingly, the burden of production shifts to Respondents.
Complainant alleges that Respondents have no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names.
Respondents failed to respond to the Complaint.
Moreover, there is no evidence in the file that Respondents have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Accordingly, the Panel considers that Respondents do not have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names.
D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4 (b) of the Policy states the following four (non-exclusive) circumstances which, if found to be present, are deemed to provide evidence of bad faith in registering and using the domain name.
(i) Circumstances indicating that the respondent has registered or the respondent 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 your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) 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) The respondent has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) By using the domain name, the respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your 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 your website or location or of a product or service on your website or your location.
The Panel notes that some panels in certain default cases have accepted credible factual allegations from a complainant as true, particularly as these pertain to paragraphs 4(a)(ii) and 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, regarding the factors pertaining to rights or legitimate interests and bad faith, e.g., Luis Cobos v. West, North (Nick Handle: JNMTOKTCQD), WIPO Case No. D2004-0182; Microsoft Corporation v. Andrey Tumakov, WIPO Case No. D2002-1039; Plymouth State College v. Domains, Best Domains, WIPO Case No. D2002-0939.
The domain name must not only be registered in bad faith, but it must also be used in bad faith (e.g., World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. v. Michael Bosman, WIPO Case No. D1999-0001).
The Panel considers that the evidence submitted establishes that the choice of the disputed domain name by Respondents couldn’t be a coincidence. First, adding the descriptive word “clients” to Complainant’s trademark indicates Respondents’ purposeful choice – and awareness that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademark. Accordingly, the Panel considers that the disputed domain names were registered in bad faith. It is the Panel’s opinion that the intention behind Respondents’ registration of the disputed domain names containing Complainant’s trademark is merely to capture Complainant’s customers who are seeking for its banking and insurance product and services, and to re-direct them to other websites. Using domain names to intentionally attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to a website by creating confusion with a complainant’s mark is evidence of bad faith registration and use under the Policy, paragraph 4(b)(iv) (e.g., Compagnie Générale des Etablissements Michelin CGEM - Michelin & Cie, Michelin Recherche et Technique S.A. v. Horoshiy Inc., WIPO Case No. D2004-0752).
Further, the Panel finds that the circumstances in this case lead to the conclusion of bad faith use for the following reasons:
- The disputed domain names may lead customers or potential customers of Complainant’s products and services to believe that they will be directed to Complainant’s website.
- Further, the disputed domain names are used as a “click-through” revenue generating site which provides income to Respondents by inducing Internet users to click through sponsored links. Such use of the disputed domain names is neither legitimate, nor in good faith.
As a result, the Panel holds that both elements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy have been met. The Panel thus concludes that Complainant has established that Respondents registered and are using the disputed domain names in bad faith.
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 names <creditmutuelclients.info> and <creditmutuelclients.org> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: May 19, 2014