WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel v. Percheron Berrada

Case No. D2014-2061

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel of Paris, France, represented by Meyer & Partenaires, France.

The Respondent is Percheron Berrada of Le Havre, France.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <creditmutuelfrance.com> (the “Disputed Domain Name”) is registered with Network Solutions, LLC (“Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 24, 2014. On November 24, 2014, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Name. On November 24, 2014, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Disputed Domain Name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on November 26, 2014 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on November 26, 2014. The Complainant filed a second amended Complaint on December 12, 2014.

The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended Complaints 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 December 15, 2014. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was January 4, 2015. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 5, 2015.

The Center appointed Isabelle Leroux as the sole panelist in this matter on January 14, 2015. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence.

4. Factual Background

The Complainant is a French leading bank and insurance service group. It has been operating throughout France for more than a century, and also operates in foreign countries, notably in the European Union.

As such, it owns multiple trademark registrations and domain names for the name “Credit Mutuel” in France and abroad.

The Complainant notably owns the following trademark registrations:

- French device mark CREDIT MUTUEL No. 1.475.940 filed on July 8, 1988, in classes 35 and 36, duly renewed and in force;

- French device mark CREDIT MUTUEL No. 1.646.012 filed on November 20, 1990, notably in classes 35 and 36, duly renewed and in force;

- Community word mark CREDIT MUTUEL No. 9.943.135 filed on May 5, 2011, to designate notably services in classes 35 and 36, duly in force;

- International trademark registration (designating Benelux, Italy and Portugal) in the device sign CREDIT MUTUEL No. 570.182, filed on February 28, 2011, notably for services in classes 35 and 36, duly in force.

The Complainant’s trademarks CREDIT MUTUEL have been recognized as well-known in numerous previous UDRP decisions (see; Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel v. Philippe Marie, WIPO Case No. D2010-1513).

The Complainant also owns, directly, or through its IT branch “Euro-Information”, numerous domain names, amongst which <creditmutuel.com>, <creditmutuel.info>, <creditmutuel.org>, <creditmutuel.net> and <creditmutuel.fr>.

All these domain names redirect to the Complainant’s official website that advertises the banking and insurance products and services offered by the Complainant.

The Disputed Domain Name was registered on June 25, 2014.

The Complainant became aware that the Respondent had registered the Disputed Domain Name.

The Complainant thus sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Respondent, requesting that he stop using the Disputed Domain Name and assign it to the Complainant.

The Complainant did not receive any response from the Respondent, but instead received an email from the Registrar of the Disputed Domain Name, indicating that a dispute arising out of the registration of a domain name should be resolved through UDRP proceedings.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant claims that, as provided by the Policy, paragraph 4(a):

(i) The Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks name “Credit Mutuel”;

(ii) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in the Disputed Domain Name;

(iii) The Disputed Domain Name was registered and is used in bad faith.

The Complainant claims that the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks CREDIT MUTUEL, stressing the fact that the addition of the geographical term “France” does not prevent confusion.

The Complainant also asserts that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Name since:

- The Respondent is not related in any way to the Complainant’s business;

- The Respondent is not currently and has never been known under the wording “Credit Mutuel” or “Credit Mutuel France”;

- The Respondent has not been granted any authorization to register the Disputed Domain Name;

- The Respondent is using the Disputed Domain Name as a parking webpage to take advantage of the Complainant’s reputation and to divert consumers.

With regard to the registration and use of the Disputed Domain Name by the Respondent, the Complainant claims that such registration and use occurred in bad faith since:

The Respondent could not have been unaware of the Complainant’s rights at the time he registered the Disputed Domain Name;

- The Respondent’s website misleads Internet users looking for the Complainant’s products and services, and attracts for commercial gain (i.e. click-through commissions) Internet users by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark.

For all the above-mentioned reasons, the Complainant requests that the Disputed Domain Name be transferred to it.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

Pursuant to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant is required to establish that each of the following three conditions is met to obtain the relief it has requested:

(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 the Disputed Domain Name; and

(iii) The Disputed Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Name <creditmutuelfrance.com> is similar to the Complainant’s CREDIT MUTUEL trademarks in which the Complainant has multiple trademark registrations in France and other European jurisdictions, since 1988.

As to whether the Disputed Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to the CREDIT MUTUEL trademarks, the relevant comparison to be made is with the second-level part of the Disputed Domain Name only, “creditmutuelfrance”, as it is well-established by previous UDRP decisions that the generic Top Level Domain suffix (i.e. “.com”) should be disregarded for this purpose.

Previous UDRP panels have consistently held that a domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark for purposes of the Policy when the domain name includes the complainant’s registered mark, or a confusingly similar approximation, regardless of the other terms in the domain name.

In the present matter, the words “Credit Mutuel” are incorporated entirely, in the same order, in the Disputed Domain Name.

The fact that the word “France” is added to the words “Credit Mutuel” does not eliminate the similarity between the Complainant’s trademark and the Disputed Domain Name, as “France” is a geographical and non distinctive component of the Disputed Domain Name. On the contrary, it may increase the likelihood of confusion, given that the term “France” corresponds to the country where the Complainant’s headquarter and offices are located.

Therefore, the Panel finds that the Complainant has carried out its burden of proof under Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Disputed Domain Name was registered on June 25, 2014, long after the filing and registration by the Complainant of multiple trademarks comprising the designation CREDIT MUTUEL alone.

The Complainant denies any connection with the Respondent. There is no relationship between the Complainant and the Respondent giving rise to a license, permission or authorization of use of the Disputed Domain Name. There is no element that indicates that the Respondent, or any entity or organization of which he would be a member, has been commonly known by the Disputed Domain Name. These circumstances are sufficient to constitute a prima facie showing by the Complainant of absence of rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name on the part of the Respondent. This then shifts the burden to the Respondent to show by concrete evidence that he has rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name.

The Respondent has not provided any response showing that he has rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name.

In addition, the current use of the Disputed Domain Name cannot be regarded by the Panel as a noncommercial use or a fair use of the Disputed Domain Name, without intent for commercial gain misleadingly to divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue. In fact, the Disputed Domain Name is used as a parking website offering links to third parties commercial websites in the financial field, hence giving rise to diversion of Internet users.

Therefore, and in the absence of any contrary evidence, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights to, or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name <creditmutuelfrance.com>. The Panel therefore considers that the requirements of the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii) are fulfilled.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Panel is convinced that the Respondent, as a French resident, was fully aware of the Complainant’s trademarks, which are well-known in France, when he registered the Disputed Domain Name, since the choice of the words “Credit Mutuel France” has not been made randomly to designate a parking webpage showing links leading to financial services of companies which are competitors of the Complainant.

The Respondent did not provide any good faith reason for registering the Disputed Domain Name.

Based on the available record, there is sufficient evidence to find that the Disputed Domain Name was registered in bad faith.

It is also clear from the evidence that the Disputed Domain Name is being used in bad faith. The Respondent uses the Disputed Domain Name as a portal site offering links to commercial sites belonging to the Complainant’s competitors. This use of a confusingly similar domain name and the resulting confusion will inevitably give rise to diversion of Internet users to the Respondent’s parked page proposing links to competing websites. The Panel infers that the Respondent takes advantage of the Complainant’s popularity by redirecting Internet users looking for the Complainant, and may benefit from this confusion and diversion by receiving “click-through” commissions in accordance with conventional practices on the Internet when Internet users reach a site through a link on the Respondent’s portal site (see: Credit Industriel et Commercial S.A. v. Jeongyong Cho, WIPO Case No. D2013-1263.

The Panel also wishes to emphasize that the use of privacy shields on the WhoIs database is also evidence of the Respondent’s bad faith, since it shows that the Respondent has tried to hide its identity.

In light of the above-mentioned circumstances, the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Name has been used in bad faith.

Therefore, the Panel finds that the domain name <creditmutuelfrance.com> was registered and used by the Respondent in bad faith and considers the requirements of the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii) to be fulfilled.

7. Decision

For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that Disputed Domain Name <creditmutuelfrance.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Isabelle Leroux
Sole Panelist
Date: January 22, 2015