WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Confederation Nationale du Credit Mutuel v. Claitre Bonnat
Case No. D2016-0204
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Confederation Nationale du Credit Mutuel of Paris, France, represented by Meyer & Partenaires, France.
The Respondent is Claitre Bonnat of Paris, France.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <verified-creditmutuel.com> is registered with Key-Systems GmbH dba domaindiscount24.com (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint in English was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on February 2, 2016. On February 2, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On February 3, 2016, 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, and also indicating that French is the language of the Registration Agreement for the disputed domain name. The Center sent an email communication to the Parties on February 4, 2016, inviting the Complainant to either provide satisfactory evidence of an agreement between the Complainant and the Respondent to the effect that the proceeding should be in English; or, to submit the Complaint translated into French; or, to submit a request for English to be the language of the administrative proceeding. The Respondent was also invited to make submissions with regard to the language of the proceeding. The Center received a communication from the Complainant on February 5, 2016. The Complainant filed a request that English be the language of the proceeding on February 12, 2016. The Respondent did not file any submissions in this regard.
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 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on February 16, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 7, 2016. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on March 8, 2016.
The Center appointed Michel Vivant as the sole panelist in this matter on March 9, 2016. 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, Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, is the central body of the French banking group Crédit Mutuel. The Complainant is the registered owner of a large number of trademarks consisting of or including the name "Crédit Mutuel", including French semi-figurative trademarks of July 8, 1988 and November 20, 1990; semi-figurative International trademark of May 17, 1991; and nominative Community Trade Mark of May 5, 2011.
The Complainant and one of its subsidiaries have also registered domain names such as <creditmutuel.fr>, <creditmutuel.com> and <creditmutuel.info>.
The disputed domain name <verified-creditmutuel.com> was registered on December 1, 2014 by the Respondent.
The Complaint was filed, as said above, on February 2, 2016.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant underlines that it is a well-known banking group, being the owner of well-known trademarks "in the sense of article 6 bis of the Paris Union Convention."
The Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to its trademark. The Complainant observes that the disputed domain name incorporates its trademark CREDIT MUTUEL in its entirety and that "the use or absence of punctuation marks, such as hyphens or spaces, does not alter the fact that a domain name is identical to a mark." The Complainant adds that the inclusion of an additional term such as "verified" does not prevent the disputed domain name from being identical or confusingly similar to its trademark, but quite the opposite – it creates a false link with the Complainant's trademarks.
The Complainant considers that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, because it is not related in any way to the Complainant's business, has never received a license or an authorization to use its marks and has never been known under the wording "Crédit Mutuel".
Lastly, the Complainant observes that the Respondent could not ignored the Complainant's trademark CREDIT MUTUEL, and has registered the disputed domain name precisely because it knew of the well-known character of the trademark. The Complainant adds that the use of the disputed domain name is a bad faith use, the disputed domain name directing only towards an error page.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Preliminary Matter: Language of the Proceeding
Concerning the question of the language, according to the Complainant, the language of the Registration Agreement would be English, which explains the choice of English as language of the Complaint. Nevertheless, the Registrar, Key Systems GmbH, confirmed to the WIPO Center that the language of the registration was French. The Respondent did not reply and as an obvious consequence did not assert that it preferred one language to another. The Panel notes that all of the Center's communications to the Parties regarding the Complaint have been made in both English and French. In the absence of any submissions from the Respondent, it seems convenient to the Panel to keep as the language of the proceeding the language of the Complaint, namely English.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name incorporates the Complainant's trademark CREDIT MUTUEL in its entirety, which is a practice which has always be considered by the administrative panels as a strong clue of cybersquatting. The use or absence of punctuation marks, such as hyphens or spaces, does not alter the fact that a domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark.
Furthermore, the inclusion of the additional term "verified" does not dispel the disputed domain name from being identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant's trademark, but, quite the opposite, creates a specific link with the trademark as the word "verified" is commonly used on the Internet in connection with secured and trusted websites, "especially in the banking field" as the Complainant observes it.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's trademark, according to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has never been known under the wording "Crédit Mutuel". The Respondent is not related in any way to the Complainant's business and has never received from it a license or an authorization to use its marks.
The panel observes in addition that, if the Respondent had actually rights or legitimate interests in respect with the disputed domain name, it would have been easy for it not to be defaulting and to produce its arguments.
The Panel concludes on the basis of the unrebutted prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, according to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii).
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel finds that the Complainant's trademark CREDIT MUTUEL is well-known, as has been stated by several UDRP panels (see Confederation Nationale du Credit Mutuel v. George Kershner, WIPO Case No. D2006-0248; Confederation Nationale du Credit Mutuel v. Philippe Marie, WIPO Case No. D2010-1513). Accordingly, the Panel considers that the Respondent could not have ignored the existence of the Complainant's trademark at the time the disputed domain name was registered. In other words, according to a consistent jurisprudence of prior UDRP panels, the registration may be considered as having been made in bad faith.
The disputed domain name directs only to an error page ("page introuvable") without visible use, which does not appear to provide any basis for the Panel to find any actual or potential good faith use of the disputed domain name.
The Panel also notes that the name and the address given by the Respondent seem false – the first name "Claitre" does not exist in French and the street "Ecole Simot" does not, to this Panel's knowledge, exist in the city of Paris, France, where the Respondent is allegedly located. That is for the Panel a further indication of bad faith.
It must be noted that in the light of a similar UDRP case concerning the passive holding of domain names, the Panel judged that "the bad faith behavior of the Respondent [ ] results clearly of [his] lack of response [ ] to the complaint, and to the inaccuracy and incoherence of [his] addresses" (Association Robert Mazars v. François Varin, Jerome Adrien, Laurent Bernard, Nicolas Mazars, WIPO Case No. D2014-0498).
Therefore, the Panel finds that the requirement of registration and use in bad faith is satisfied, according to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii).
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 <verified-creditmutuel.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: March 16, 2016