WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
La Banque Palatine v. Palatine-Group SA
Case No. D2014-0874
1. The Parties
The Complainant is La Banque Palatine of Paris, France, represented by Partenaires PI, France.
The Respondent is Palatine-Group SA of Mahe, Seychelles.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <palatine-group.com> is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on May 23, 2014. On May 23, 2014, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On May 23, 2014, the Registrar 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 June 5, 2014. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was June 25, 2014. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on June 27, 2014.
The Center appointed William F. Hamilton as the sole panelist in this matter on July 8, 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.
On July 9, 2014, the Respondent sent an email communication to the Center requesting a list identifying materials transmitted to the Panel.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a mid-sized national banking enterprise operating under the European Union Community trademark PALATINE, No. 4353223, registered on July 31, 2006, and the French trademark BANQUE PALATINE L'ART D'ETRE BANQUIER, No. 103753197, registered on February 17, 2012. These registrations are collectively referred to in this Decision as the "PALATINE marks." The Complainant operates many Internet websites including "www.palatine.fr". The Complainant offers business and wealth management financial services.
The disputed domain name was registered on October 5, 2013.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's registered PALATINE marks because the disputed domain name incorporates the Complainant's PALATIINE mark entirely and merely adds the generic suffix "-group" to PALATINE to form the disputed domain name. The Complainant asserts that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the PALATINE mark or the disputed domain name. The Complainant further asserts that the disputed domain name was registered by the Respondent to confuse and to lure Complainant's actual and potential customers to the Respondent's website or to falsely promote Respondent as part of the Complainant's business enterprise.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's PALATINE marks. The disputed domain name adopts the Complainant's PALATINE mark entirely and merely adds a generic expression "-group" as a suffix to form the disputed domain name. Trivial misspellings, adding or deleting letters, and adding generic terms as prefixes or suffixes to established trademarks owned by others when registering a domain name is insufficient to avoid findings of confusing similarity.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy is accordingly satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel finds that the Respondent lacks any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
First, the Complainant has not licensed the PALATINE marks to the Respondent. Second, there is no evidence of prior or good faith use by the Respondent of the PALATINE marks or the disputed domain name. Third, the Respondent has failed to reply to the Complaint. Additionally, the Complainant's Internet search for the "Palatine-Group" did not locate any business operations or entity operated by the Respondent or associated with the Respondent.
.Accordingly, the Panel finds that the paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy is satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The most elementary Internet search by the Respondent would have disclosed the Complainant's PALATINE marks and domain names. The Panel must thus draw an inference that the Respondent thus knew of the Complainant's PALATINE marks, websites, and services and that the Respondent registered the confusingly similar disputed domain name in bad faith. A letter from the Respondent's CEO to certain potential banking clients buttresses this inference. That letter, attached as Annex 9 to the Complaint, references the disputed domain name while touting the offering of specialized wealth management services by Palatine-Group SA. It is apparent to the Panel that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name as part of a scheme to buttress its credibility and to enhance the Respondent's "authentic" appearance. The Panel thus finds that the disputed domain was registered and is being used in bad faith.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy is satisfied.
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 <palatine-group.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
William F. Hamilton
Date: July 22, 2014