WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Credit Agricole S.A. v. Guyon Michel
Case No. D2016-0674
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Credit Agricole S.A. of Montrouge Cedex, France, represented by Nameshield, France.
The Respondent is Guyon Michel of “Paris”, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <crediiit-agriicole.com> is registered with Melbourne IT Ltd (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 6, 2016. On April 6, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 7, 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.
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 April 12, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was May 2, 2016. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on May 6, 2016.
The Center appointed Gonçalo M. C. Da Cunha Ferreira as the sole panelist in this matter on May 19, 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 is Credit Agricole S.A., a French bank that has become one of the leading cooperative companies in the world. It assists its clients around the world in all areas of banking and trades, and is therefore, internationally recognized.
Credit Agricole S.A. is the owner of several global trademarks including the distinctive wording CREDIT AGRICOLE and owns as well domain names including the same distinctive wording CREDIT AGRICOLE. including International Trademark CREDIT AGRICOLE No. 1064647, dated January 4, 2011 and covering goods and services in classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 38 and 42. The domain name <credit-agricole.com> was registered on December 31, 1999.
The disputed domain name <crediiit-agriicole.com> was registered on January 9, 2016, long after the CREDIT AGRICOLE Marks were registered, and it currently resolves to a website that displays a hosting provider inactive page, linking to a web hostage company.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the three requirements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are met:
1. The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the CREDIT AGRICOLE Mark in which the Complainant has rights. The disputed domain name <crediiit-agriicole.com> comprises the distinctive wording CREDIT AGRICOLE, owned by the Complainant, and presents a clear case of typo squatting.
2. The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not affiliated with nor authorized by CREDIT AGRICOLE S.A. in any way and has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name <crediiit-agriicole.com>. The Complainant further contends it does not carry out any activity for, nor has any business with the Respondent and that it has never licensed nor granted any authorization to the Respondent to make any use of the Complainant’s trademark CREDIT AGRICOLE, or apply for registration of the disputed domain name by the Complainant. Finally, the Complainant alleges that the Respondent has no demonstrable plan to use the disputed domain name.
3. The Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. The Complainant contends the disputed domain name was registered in order to prevent the Complainant from reflecting the mark in the disputed domain name. The Respondent has intentionally registered the disputed domain name with full knowledge of the Complainant’s rights on the CREDIT AGRICOLE trademarks and the fact that the website is inactive since it registration strongly suggest that the Respondent has maintained the domain name in order to prevent the Complainant to register its trademark as domain name. Finally, having postal contact details apparently false also suggest bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
In order to obtain the transfer of a domain name, a complainant must prove the three Policy elements, regardless of whether the respondent files a response to the complaint. The first element is that the “domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights”. Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i). The second element a complainant must prove is that the respondent has “no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name”. Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii). The third element a complainant must establish is that the “domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith”. Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii).
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the Complainant provided evidence that it has prior and well-established registered rights in the CREDIT AGRICOLE mark.
The disputed domain name <crediiit-agriicole.com> comprises the distinctive words CREDIT AGRICOLE in its entirety, and adds the vowel <i> twice on the first word and once on the second word, and the generic Top-Level-Domain (“gTLD”) “.com”.
The Panel understanding is that the disputed domain name contains an obvious misspelling of the trademark CREDIT AGRICOLE, and that the distinctive words CREDIT AGRICOLE remain the dominant component of the disputed domain name. Thus, the addition of the letters “i” do not distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainant’s registered trademark.
The gTLD “.com” is insufficient to distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainant’s mark, as several previous UDRP decisions have stated.
In light of the above, the Panel finds that the first element of the Policy has been satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
In order for a complainant to prove that, a respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name, previous UDRP panels have consistently held that it is sufficient for a complainant to make a prima facie case (see, amongst others, Croatia Airlines, d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Limited, WIPO Case No. D2003-0455; and Belupo d.d. v. WACHEM d.o.o., WIPO Case No. D2004-0110). Once a prima facie case is shown by the complainant, the burden of production shifts to the respondent to produce evidence of its rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name to the panel.
The Panel accepts that the Complainant has made a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not known by the disputed domain name nor has any license or authorization to use The Complainant’s trademark CREDIT AGRICOLE.
Additionally, the use of typo squatting to redirect users to the Respondent’s registrar/hosting parking website is not a legitimate use of the disputed domain name, as previous UDRP decisions have established.
In the absence of response to the Complaint, the Respondent has failed to rebut the prima facie case made by the Complainant or advance any other arguments supporting its rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the second element of the Policy has been satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The trademark CREDIT AGRICOLE is indeed an internationally trademark, widely recognized and well known.
The Panel finds is that the Respondent could not have chosen the disputed domain name unless it was aware of the Complainant’s trademark CREDIT AGRICOLE. The kind of misspelling, apparent on the disputed domain name - using three “i” in the word CREDIT and two “i” on the word AGRICOLE, together, cannot be considered a creation of the Respondent that by serendipity happened to be similar to the Complainant trademark.
Moreover, the disputed domain name was registered sixteen years after the Complainant registered the domain name <credit-agricole.com>, undoubtedly similar with the first.
Among other UDRP decisions, according to Intel Corporation v. The Pentium Group, WIPO Case No. D2009-0273; “the incorporation of a well-known trademark into a domain name by a registrant having no plausible explanation for doing so may be, in and of itself, an indication of bad faith”. The Panel finds the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith.
With respect to the use of the domain name, the disputed domain name resolves to an inactive registrar/hosting parking website, which along with the facts in this case may suggest bad faith use. (See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition (“WIPO Overview 2.0”), paragraph 3.2.
In this case, the Complainant’s trademark is well-known and the Respondent did not participate to this proceeding, the Panel finds on balance that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. This is consistent with the recent decision of National Hockey League v. Jean Lucas, Domcharme Group, WIPO Case No. D2016-0315 where the panel states that “even if there were no pattern of conduct established, in the circumstances of this Complaint, including the fame of the Complainant’s trademark, the Respondent’s other registrations and its failure to respond to the cease and desist letter sent on behalf of the Complainant or to participate in these proceedings, the Panel would have no hesitation in finding against the Respondent on this issue”.
The Panel thus finds that the third element of the Policy has been 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 <crediiit-agriicole.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Gonçalo M. C. Da Cunha Ferreira
Date: June 2, 2016