WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Credit Agricole S.A. v. Ronaldo Kabisa, Ronaldo Mika
Case No. D2016-1668
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Credit Agricole S.A. of Montrouge Cedex, France, represented by Nameshield, France.
The Respondent is Ronaldo Kabisa, Ronaldo Mika, of Albacete, Spain.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <id-credit-agricole-frds.com> and <id-credit-agricole-frsd.com> are registered with Launchpad.com Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 17, 2016. On August 17, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On September 6, 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 September 12, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 2, 2016. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 4, 2016.
The Center appointed Dr. Clive N.A. Trotman as the sole panelist in this matter on October 17, 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 a leading European bank, with an international presence. Its business extends to include insurance management, asset leasing and factoring, consumer credit, corporate banking and investment.
The Complainant owns several trademarks incorporating CREDIT AGRICOLE, of which the following are representative for the purposes of the present proceeding:
CA CREDIT AGRICOLE, stylised, United States Patent and Trademark Office, principal register, registered June 5, 1990, registration number 1599297, class 36;
CREDIT AGRICOLE, international trademark, registered January 4, 2011, registration number 1064647, classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 38, 42.
The Complainant also owns domain names incorporating its trademark CREDIT AGRICOLE including <creditagricole.com>, <credit-agricole.fr>, <creditagricole.fr>, <creditagricole.net>, <creditagricole.biz>, <creditagricole.org> and <creditagricole.info>.
Nothing is known about the Respondent except for the details supplied in the publicly available WhoIs for the disputed domain names, which were registered on July 27, 2016 (<id-credit-agricole-frds.com>) and July 28, 2016 (<id-credit-agricole-frsd.com>).
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain names incorporate its trademarks and are confusingly similar to the trademarks. The additional hyphens and letters “id” and either “frds” or “frsd” should not preclude a finding of confusing similarity.
The Complainant further contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names. The Respondent has no connection or business with the Complainant and has not been authorised to use the Complainant’s trademarks or to register the disputed domain names.
The Complainant says the Respondent has no demonstrable plans to use the disputed domain names. One of them, <id-credit-agricole-frds.com>, resolves to an inactive website. The other, <id-credit-agricole-frsd.com>, has been suspended by the hosting provider and redirects to a page displaying pay-per-click links concerning banking services.
The Complainant further contends that the disputed domain names were registered and are being used in bad faith. The Complainant is well-known, its trademarks are distinctive, and it is reasonable to infer that the disputed domain names were registered by the Respondent with full knowledge of the Complainant’s trademarks. The Complainant submits that the Respondent has maintained the disputed domain names in order to prevent the Complainant from registering them as reflecting its trademarks. Furthermore, it should be held that the incorporation of a famous trademark into a domain name, coupled with an inactive website, may be evidence of registration and use in bad faith.
The Complainant says that according to its enquiries, the physical address provided by the Respondent is probably false.
The Complainant has cited a number of previous decisions under the Policy that it considers to support its position.
The Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain names.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy states that the Respondent is required to submit to a mandatory administrative proceeding in the event that the Complainant asserts to the applicable dispute-resolution provider, in compliance with the Rules, that:
“(i) your domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
(ii) you have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) your domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith”.
The Complainant has made the relevant assertions as required by the Policy. The dispute is properly within the scope of the Policy and the Panel has jurisdiction to decide the dispute.
The Panel is satisfied that the Center, by sending the Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding and Written Notice to the relevant contact details provided by the Registrar, has fulfilled its obligations to attempt to contact the Respondent in accordance with paragraphs 2 and 4 of the Rules.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel is satisfied by the evidence in the available record that the Complainant has the requisite rights in the trademarks CA CREDIT AGRICOLE and CREDIT AGRICOLE for the purposes of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
The disputed domain names are <id-credit-agricole-frds.com> and <id-credit-agricole-frsd.com>, of which the generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) designation, in this instance “.com”, may generally be disregarded in the determination of confusing similarity. Each disputed domain name contains the entity “credit-agricole”, which the Panel finds to be effectively identical to the Complainant’s trademark CREDIT AGRICOLE and identical to the substantive element of the trademark CA CREDIT AGRICOLE, a hyphen being substituted for the space between CREDIT and AGRICOLE that is impermissible in a domain name. The additional strings “id” and either “frds” of “frsd” are found not to be distinguishing. Accordingly the Panel finds for the Complainant under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has stated that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names. The Complainant says it has no connection or business with the Respondent and has not granted the Respondent any right to use the Complainant’s trademarks.
The Complainant having stated a prima facie case to the effect that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names, the Respondent may rebut this in the terms of paragraph 4(c) of the Policy or in any other way satisfactory to the Panel, by demonstrating in particular but without limitation that:
“(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) you are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue”.
The Respondent has not responded and has not asserted any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names in the terms of paragraphs 4(c)(i), (ii) or (iii) of the Policy, or otherwise. In particular the Panel can find no evidence or indication that the disputed domain names may be intended for use in bona fide trade, or that the Respondent or its business has been commonly known by the disputed domain names, or that they have been in noncommercial or fair use. The Panel finds for the Complainant under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant must prove under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy that the disputed domain names have been registered in bad faith and are being used in bad faith. Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy lists four alternative circumstances that shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith by a respondent, namely:
“(i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out of pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) you have registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your website or location or of a product or service on your website or location”.
Whereas the purpose of registration and the intended use of the disputed domain names by the Respondent might well have fallen under any of the examples provided in paragraph 4(b) of the Policy, it is not necessary for the Panel to speculate. The provisions of paragraph 4(b) of the Policy are without limitation and bad faith may be found alternatively by the Panel.
The Panel is satisfied that the French bank “Credit Agricole” and its corresponding trademarks are, in the context and by any realistic standards, well-known internationally. The Panel finds it implausible that the Respondent should have assembled the disputed domain names without prior knowledge of the Complainant and its trademarks. The Panel finds it implausible that the Respondent could have any possible excuse for being in possession of domain names featuring, without permission, the trademark of a famous bank. It is noted that the disputed domain names are not in use by the Respondent for any authentic website or email purpose and are not in effective use at all. Significantly, attempts by the Center to serve the Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding by email to the postmaster at each of the disputed domain names received the response, “The recipient’s email address isn’t correct”, and the courier company attempting to deliver the hard copy reported, “The address on the airway bill is incomplete / wrong”.
The Complainant has provided evidence of the disputed domain name <id-credit-agricole-frsd.com> resolving to a website suspended by the hosting provider and displaying pay-per-click links concerning banking services and of the disputed domain name <id-credit-agricole-frds.com> resolving to an inactive website.
Whilst previous decisions under the Policy do not have the formal status of precedent, the circumstances applying to the present case are comparable to those in the widely respected and frequently cited decision in Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003 (“Telstra”). In particular, the present Complainant’s trademarks are well-known; there is no evidence of contemplated good faith use of the disputed domain names by the Respondent; the Respondent has obscured its contact details; and no legitimate use of the disputed domain names by the Respondent is reasonably conceivable.
As discussed by the respected panel in Telstra, “The distinction between undertaking a positive action in bad faith and acting in bad faith may seem a rather fine distinction, but it is an important one. The significance of the distinction is that the concept of a domain name “being used in bad faith” is not limited to positive action; inaction is within the concept. That is to say, it is possible, in certain circumstances, for inactivity by the Respondent to amount to the domain name being used in bad faith”. Irrespective of their non-use or minimal use to display pay-per-click links concerning banking services, the disputed domain names are found, having regard to all the evidence, to be held and to be in use by the Respondent in bad faith, and to have been registered for the purpose.
On the totality of the evidence and on the balance of probabilities, the Panel finds the disputed domain names to have been registered and to be in use by the Respondent in bad faith. Accordingly the Panel finds for the Complainant under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
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 names <id-credit-agricole-frds.com> and <id-credit-agricole-frsd.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dr. Clive N.A. Trotman
Date: October 25, 2016