WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Confederation Nationale du Credit Mutuel v. Bernard Dufranc
Case No. D2017-2154
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Confederation Nationale du Credit Mutuel of Paris, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.
The Respondent is Bernard Dufranc of Paris, Benin.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <creditmutuelenligne.com> is registered with Network Solutions, LLC (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on November 3, 2017. On November 3, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 3, 2017, 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 November 16, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 6, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on December 7, 2017.
The Center appointed Angela Fox as the sole panelist in this matter on December 20, 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 Complainant is a large French banking and insurance group providing services, established over 100 years ago and operating under the name CREDIT MUTUEL. The Complainant provides its services to some 12 million customers, including both businesses and individuals, and is active in all fields of finance. It has a network of over 3,100 offices in France. It also carries out its activities online under the URLs "www.creditmutuel.com" and "www.creditmutuel.fr".
The Complainant owns various trademark registrations for CREDIT MUTUEL and trademarks incorporating CREDIT MUTUEL, including European Union trademark registration 9943135 for CRÉDIT MUTUEL in Classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 38, 41, 42 and 45, registered in 2011.
The Respondent is an individual whose WhoIs details give an address in Paris, albeit in Benin.
The Respondent registered the disputed domain name on August 14, 2017. He has used it in respect of a website offering loan facilities, screenshots of which were attached to the Complaint. Following a complaint by the Complainant to the hosting company, however, the Respondent's website was taken down and is no longer visible.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its CREDIT MUTUEL trademark. It submits that the words "enligne" appearing in the domain name mean "on-line" in French and are therefore descriptive of the Complainant's services provided online.
The Complainant further contends that the Respondent has no legitimate rights or interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not one of the Complainant's agents or employees, nor a licensee or subsidiary of the Complainant. The Complainant has not authorized the Respondent to use its trademark in any way. Nor is the Respondent commonly known by a name corresponding to the disputed domain name.
Finally, the Complainant submits that the disputed domain name was registered and has been used in bad faith. The Respondent registered the disputed domain name under what appear to be false contact details and has used the domain name in bad faith to attract customers to a competing, and possibly fraudulent, loans service.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions and is in default. No exceptional circumstances explaining the default have been put forward. Therefore, in accordance with paragraphs 14(a) and (b) of the Rules, the Panel will decide the Complaint and shall draw such inferences as it considers appropriate from the Respondent's default.
6. Discussion and Findings
Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, a complainant can only succeed in an administrative proceeding under the Policy if the panel finds that:
(i) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights;
(ii) the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name; and
(iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
All three elements must be present before a complainant can succeed in an administrative proceeding under the Policy.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has shown that it has registered trademark rights in CREDIT MUTUEL.
The disputed domain name incorporates the CREDIT MUTUEL trademark in its entirety. The additional expression "en ligne" means "online" in French. Overall, the disputed domain name is likely to be understood by French consumers, in the market where the Complainant trades, as denoting online services of the Complainant's bank. This is even more so given that the Complainant provides its services online.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has made out a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent has made no effort to rebut that assertion.
There is no evidence of any circumstances that could confer a legitimate right or interest in the disputed domain name on the part of the Respondent within the meaning of paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, or otherwise. Although the disputed domain name has been in use in the past, that use was in respect of a loan service and was therefore inherently likely to be confused with the Complainant, given the deceptive similarity of the domain name to the Complainant's trademark.
The Panel concludes that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy, a panel may find evidence that a domain name has been registered and used in bad faith if there are circumstances indicating that, by using the domain name, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of its website or location or of a product or service on your website or location.
In this case, the Complainant has shown that the Respondent has used the disputed domain name in respect of a website offering loan services. This is an inherently commercial activity and the Internet users drawn to the Respondent's site are likely to have been attracted there by the inherently misleading domain name, which is confusingly similar to the Complainant's trademark. Given that the Respondent appears to have a French name and an address in "Paris", albeit improbably in Benin, it seems implausible that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name without knowledge of the Complainant's banking activities under the CREDIT MUTUEL name in France. Moreover, the Respondent's WhoIs contact details appear to be false or inaccurate, as the Complainant alleges, which suggests that the Respondent was taking steps to shield its identity.
Taking all of these factors into account, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name was registered and has been used in bad faith.
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 <creditmutuelenligne.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: February 5, 2018