WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel v. Whoisguard Protected, Whoisguard, Inc. / Isabelle Garcia, Credit Mutuel Fiable
Case No. D2017-0214
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel of Paris, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.
The Respondent is Whoisguard Protected, Whoisguard, Inc. of Panama City, Panama / Isabelle Garcia, Credit Mutuel Fiable of Aulnay Sous Bois, France.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <creditmutuelfiable.com> is registered with eNom, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 3, 2017. On February 3, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On February 7, 2017, 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 February 9, 2017 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 February 13, 2017.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended 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 17, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 9, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 10, 2017.
The Center appointed Emmanuelle Ragot as the sole panelist in this matter on March 28, 2017. 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 Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel is the central body of the French banking group Crédit Mutuel and the second French banking and insurance services group.
Credit Mutuel provides banking services to both individuals and businesses.
Credit Mutuel operates a web portal under the URLs “www.creditmutuel.com” and “www.creditmutuel.fr”, dedicated to its off and online services and providing information to the public about banking services. Specifically, “www.creditmutuel.fr” offers online banking services to Crédit Mutuel’s clients, who can, once connected through personal access, manage their account online through this website.
The domain name <creditmutuel.com> was registered on October 28, 1995 and duly renewed since then.
The Complainant owns a large number of trademarks consisting of, or including the wording, “Crédit Mutuel” in France and elsewhere, as a (semi-figurative) French trademark registered on July 8, 1988, International trademark registered on May 17, 1991 designating Benelux, Italy and Portugal renewed on February 28, 2011, or (nominative) European Union Trade Mark from May 5, 2011 (and also different domain names designed on the same basis).
The disputed domain name built on the wording “Crédit Mutuel” was registered by the Respondent on November 30, 2016.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant underlines that it is a well-known banking group, and is the owner of “well-known” trademarks recognized as such by WIPO UDRP panels (inter alia, Confederation Nationale du Credit Mutuel v. Philippe Marie, WIPO Case No. D2010-1513)
The Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to its trademark. It observes that the disputed domain name incorporates the Complainant’s trademark CREDIT MUTUEL in its entirety and that the addition of generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) is irrelevant in determining the possible similarity as is the addition of punctuation marks, such as hyphens.
The Complainant adds that the inclusion of an additional term, the French word “fiable”, does not dispel the disputed domain name from being identical or confusingly similar but quite the opposite – it creates a false link with its trademarks. The addition of the term “fiable” would suggest that the website to which the disputed domain name resolves is secured, trusted and protected.
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 notices that the Respondent could not have ignored the trademark CREDIT MUTUEL and has registered the disputed domain name precisely because it knew the well-known character of the trademark.
The Complainant advances also that the use of the domain name is bad faith use as the disputed domain name is currently redirecting to a website of a false company named “Crédit Mutuel Fiable” which proposes identical, or at least similar, financial services and might mislead the Internet users into believing that they are visiting a website which is linked to the Complainant, and tarnishing in this way the Complainant’s image.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name incorporates the whole of the Complainant’s trademark CREDIT MUTUEL, which typically is considered sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the first element.
It is well established that the gTLD is a non-pertinent element which generally must not be taken into consideration (the Complainant quotes Credit Industriel et Commercial S.A. v. Jeongyong Cho, WIPO Case No. D2013-1263 in this regard).
It is also well established that 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 mark (it is again a well-established solution; see, for instance, two cases concerning the present Complainant, namely Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel v. Eric Bilunov c/o Dynadot Privacy, WIPO Case No. DWS2014-0001; Confederation Nationale du Credit Mutuel v. Claitre Bonnat, WIPO Case No. D2016-0204).
Furthermore, the inclusion of additional term as “fiable” does not dispel the disputed domain name from being confusingly similar but, on the contrary, creates a specific link with the trademark as far as such word is commonly used in connection with secured and trusted websites (see supra, Confederation Nationale du Credit Mutuel v. Claitre Bonnat, supra).
Consequently, 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 name “Crédit Mutuel”. It 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 finds that there is nothing in the present record to otherwise suggest rights or legitimate interests on the part of the Respondent in the present case.
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 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 trademark CREDIT MUTUEL is a well-known trademark, as it has been already stated by several UDRP panels (see, for instance, Confédération nationale du Crédit Mutuel v. George Kershner, WIPO Case No. D2006-0248; Confédération Nationale du Credit Mutuel v. Philippe Marie, supra; or Confederation Nationale du Credit Mutuel v. Claitre Bonnat, supra).
Consequently, the Panel considers that the Respondent could not plausibly ignore the existence of the Complainant’s trademark at the time the disputed domain name was registered and thus that, according to a consistent jurisprudence of prior UDRP panels, the registration must be judged as made in bad faith.
Considering the use of the disputed domain name, the Panel observes that the disputed domain name is redirecting to a false financial entity claiming to be named “Crédit Mutuel Fiable”, which dismiss all idea of good faith use. It is a fact that this “fraudulent holding” of domain name, especially including a well-known trademark, without obvious legitimate purpose, has been condemned by different UDRP panels (see for instance, Sanofi contre Benoit Menetrieux, WIPO Case No. D2014-1288).
All that leads the Panel to consider 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 <creditmutuelfiable.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: April 11, 2017