WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel v. Domain Admin, Whois protection, this company does not own this domain name s.r.o / Hulmiho Ukolen, Poste restante
Case No. D2016-0210
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel of Paris, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.
The Respondent is Domain Admin, Whois protection, this company does not own this domain name s.r.o. of Prague, Czech Republic / Hulmiho Ukolen, Poste restante of Helsinki, Finland
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <credit-mutuelfr.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with Hebei Guoji Maoyi (Shanghai) LTD aka HEBEI INTERNATIONAL TRADING (SHANGHAI) CO., LTD dba HebeiDomains.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed in English with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 3, 2016, identifying the Respondent as “Domain Admin, Whois protection, this company does not own this domain name s.r.o”. The Center transmitted its request for registrar verification to the Registrar the same day. The Registrar replied on February 11, 2016, stating that it had received a copy of the Complaint, that the Domain Name was registered with it, that the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “UDRP”) applied, that the registration would expire on May 28, 2016, that a Lock had been applied to the Domain Name and would remain in place during this proceeding, that the registration agreement was in Finnish, and that the Domain Name was created on May 28, 2015. The Registrar also provided the contact details for the Domain Name, which identified the registrant as Hulmiho Ukolen, Poste restante.
The Center wrote to the Complainant on February 12, 2016, inviting it to amend the Complaint in the light of the information provided by the Registrar identifying the registrant. The Center also wrote to the Parties on the same day, inviting the Complainant to address the fact that the Registration Agreement was in Finnish by providing evidence of an agreement between the parties to conduct the proceeding in English or by submitting the Complaint in Finnish or by submitting a request for English to be the language of the administrative proceeding, and inviting the Respondent to reply to any submission filed by the Complainant in this regard.
The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on February 15, 2016, naming the Respondent as Hulmiho Ukolen, Poste restante, requesting that the language of the administrative proceeding be English, and containing some other amendments consequential on the identification of the registrant. The Complainant also made its request that English be the language of the proceeding by email to the Center. The Respondent did not submit any reply to this request.
The Center verified that the Complaint and the amended Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the 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 paragraphs 2 and 4 of the Rules, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint in English and Finnish, and the proceeding commenced on February 19, 2016. In accordance with paragraph 5 of the Rules, the due date for Response was March 10, 2016. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 11, 2016.
The Center appointed Jonathan Turner as the sole panelist in this matter on March 24, 2016. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with paragraph 7 of the Rules. Having reviewed the file, the Panel finds that the Complaint together with the amended Complaint complied with applicable formal requirements, was duly notified to the Respondent and has been submitted to a properly constituted Panel in accordance with the UDRP, the Rules and the Supplemental Rules.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a central body in Credit Mutuel, the second largest French banking and insurance group. The group has operated for over a century, has 3,178 offices in France and 12 million clients. It has websites at “www.creditmutuel.com” and “www.creditmutuel.fr”.
The Complainant is the registered owner of a number of registered trademarks consisting of the name CREDIT MUTUEL or a logo containing this name. These marks were registered at various dates going back to 1988. The Complainant is also the registrant of a number of domain names comprising the Second-Level Domain “creditmutuel” following by a generic or country code Top-Level Domain suffix.
The Domain Name was registered on May 28, 2015 under the name of a Czech proxy and privacy service, and was offered for sale at USD 3,000. It was directed to various web pages containing sponsored links. Some of these links related to banking and credit services.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant submits that it would be fair for both Parties to make English the language of the proceeding. It points out that the Respondent has been involved in 22 previous UDRP proceedings, each of which was conducted in English. The language issue was raised in nearly every case and on each occasion the Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s request that the language be changed from Finnish to English. The Complainant adds that the Respondent’s contact details appear to be fictitious, indicating that he does not wish to be contacted. The Complainant states that it has no knowledge of Finnish which it describes as a non-common language, and that translation costs would be substantial.
The Complainant contends that it has registered rights in the mark CREDIT MUTUEL and that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to it. The Complainant points out that the letters “fr” are the French country code and do not provide any real distinction given that the Complainant is well known to be a French institution. The Complainant adds that the hyphen and the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) suffix also do not provide any distinction in relation to a domain name.
The Complainant submits that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. It states that the Respondent is not connected in any way with its business, is not known under the name “Credit Mutuel” and is not licensed or authorized to use or register the Domain Name. In the Complainant’s view, the Respondent’s use of the Domain Name to locate pages containing sponsored links does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services.
The Complainant alleges that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant considers that the Respondent must have been aware of its reputation under the mark CREDIT MUTUEL when he registered the Domain Name and infers that he registered it with the intention of causing confusion and for the purpose of sale to the Complainant or one of its competitors. The Complainant also draws attention to the findings of bad faith registration by the Respondent in 22 previous cases. The Complainant further considers that the Respondent has used the Domain Name in bad faith to attract Internet users to its web pages by confusion with the Complainant’s mark for commercial gain in the form of click-through commissions. The Complainant also refers to the offer for sale of the Domain Name at a price which must exceed the Respondent’s costs.
The Complainant requests a decision that the Domain Name be transferred to it.
As stated above, the Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Having regard to the circumstances, the Panel determines under paragraph 11(a) of the Rules that the language of the proceedings shall be English. In the absence of any representation by the Respondent, the Panel considers that no useful purpose will be served by requiring the Complaint or other documents to be translated in Finnish.
In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove: (i) that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which it has rights; (ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and (iii) that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. It is appropriate to consider each of these requirements in turn.
In accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, the Panel shall draw such inferences as it considers appropriate from the Respondent’s default in failing to file a response. This includes the acceptance of plausible evidence of the Complainant which has not been disputed.
6.3 Substantive Issues
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the Complainant has registered rights in the mark CREDIT MUTUEL and in logos in which CREDIT MUTUEL is a dominant feature.
The Panel considers that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to these marks. The addition of the hyphen and the gTLD suffix is discounted in the domain name context since they are regular features of the conversion of marks into domain names. The addition of “fr” does not significantly differentiate the Domain Name from the mark, given its position in the Domain Name after the mark and before the Top-Level Domain suffix, and the fact that it is the country code for France where the Complainant is based.
The first requirement of the UDRP is satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel does not regard the Respondent’s use of the Domain Name to locate web pages displaying sponsored links as constituting a bona fide offering of goods or services. Nor is it a legitimate noncommercial or fair use.
It is clear that the Respondent is not commonly known by the Domain Name and the Panel accepts the Complainant’s evidence that the Respondent is not connected in any way with the Complainant or authorized to use or register the Domain Name.
The Panel is satisfied that there is no basis on which the Respondent could have any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. The second requirement of the UDRP is satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel notes the Respondent’s offer for sale of the Domain Name for USD 3,000 and finds that the Respondent registered it primarily for the purpose of sale to the Complainant or one of its competitors at a price exceeding his out-of-pocket costs.
The Panel also finds that the Respondent has used the Domain Name intentionally to attract Internet users to web pages containing sponsored links by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of those pages, for commercial gain in the form of click-through commissions.
These circumstances constitute evidence of registration and use in bad faith in accordance with paragraphs 4(b)(i) and 4(b)(iv) of the UDRP. There is no evidence contradicting this presumption. On the contrary, the presumption is corroborated by the numerous previous findings of bad faith registration and use of domain names by the Respondent.
All three requirements of the UDRP are satisfied and it is appropriate to direct that the Domain Name be transferred to the Complainant.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <credit-mutuelfr.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: April 7, 2016