WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel and Caisse Fédérale du Crédit Mutuel Centre est Europe v. Iloris Croce
Case No. D2018-0275
1. The Parties
The Complainants are Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel of Paris, France and Caisse Fédérale du Crédit Mutuel Centre est Europe of Strasbourg, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.
The Respondent is Iloris Croce of Puente de Ixtla, Mexico.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <w3-credit-mutuel-caisse-federale.com> is registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on February 7, 2018. On February 8, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On February 9, 2018, 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 February 22, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 14, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on March 15, 2018.
The Center appointed Carol Anne Been as the sole panelist in this matter on March 22, 2018. 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 Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel of Paris, France is the political and central body for the French banking group known as Crédit Mutuel, which provides banking and insurance services to millions of clients in France and has existed for more than a century. The Complainant Caisse Fédérale du Crédit Mutuel Centre est Europe of Strasbourg, France is one of the 18 regional federations of Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel and is in charge of the local branches of the Crédit Mutuel Group located in the East of France..
The Complainant Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel owns registered trademarks in France and the European Union ("EU"), and an International Registration that designates three EU Member States. The earliest issuance date for a trademark registration provided by the Complainants is July 8, 1988 for the French registration of CREDIT MUTUEL, a semi-figurative mark. This Complainant also owns domain names using the name CREDIT MUTUEL, including <creditmutuel.com> and <creditmutuel.fr>, both of which were registered in 1995. The Complainants allege that their mark CREDIT MUTUEL is well known.
The disputed domain name <w3-credit-mutuel-caisse-federale.com> was registered on December 5, 2017. The Respondent's name and contact information as listed in the WhoIs record is in Mexico. The disputed domain name is inactive and resolves to an index page.
The Respondent did not respond to the Complaint.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainants contend that they own trademark rights in CREDIT MUTUEL, and that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to their mark. They further contend that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name because the Respondent has no relationship to the Complainants' business, and is not now known and has never been known under the wording "Credit Mutuel" or "W3 Credit Mutuel Caisse Federale". Lastly, the Complainants contend the Respondent's registration and use of the disputed domain name are in bad faith, because the mark is
well-known and, while the disputed domain name is inactive, it could be used any time and might be used for email phishing attempts.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainants' contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Concerning the lack of response from the Respondent, a panel may draw appropriate inferences from a respondent's default, although a respondent's default does not automatically result in a decision in favor of the complainant. The complainant must establish each of the three elements required by paragraph 4(a) of the UDRP. See, e.g., The Vanguard Group, Inc. v. Lorna Kang, WIPO Case No. D2002-1064; section 4.3 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition ("WIPO Overview 3.0").
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainants have provided evidence of their trademark registrations, domain names and use of their mark CREDIT MUTUEL. The Panel finds that the Complainants have established that the Complainant Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel of Paris, France, owns rights in the mark CREDIT MUTUEL in France and the EU.
The disputed domain name <w3-credit-mutuel-caisse-federale.com> incorporates the entire trademark of the Complainants, CREDIT MUTUEL. It also incorporates the first two words in the name of the Complainant Caisse Fédérale du Crédit Mutuel Centre est Europe of Strasbourg, France, "Caisse Federale". Thus all words and both phrases used in the disputed domain name are references to the Complainants.
The disputed domain name further includes "w3", which is descriptive and, along with the variation "www3", is commonly used in domain names. The use of "w3" does not distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainants' mark CREDIT MUTUEL. See Confédération Nationale du Credit Mutuel v. WHB WHBNETWORKS, WIPO Case No. D2013-2142 ("www3" at beginning of disputed domain name does not distinguish the domain name from the complainant's mark); section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 (addition of other terms would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity).
The four hyphens present in the disputed domain name also do not distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainants' mark. See Rolls-Royce PLC v. Hallofpain, WIPO Case No. D2000-1709 ("the use or absence of punctuation marks, such as hyphens and spaces, does not alter the fact that a domain name is identical to a mark").
The Respondent has not responded to this contention.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the trademark in which the Complainants have rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainants allege that the Respondent is not related in any way to the Complainants' business, does not act for the Complainants' business, and is not licensed by the Complainants' business. The Complainants contend that the Respondent is not currently known and has never been known under the phrase "Credit Mutuel" or "W3 Credit Mutuel Caisse Federale". On this basis, the Complainants allege that the Respondent has no right and no legitimate interest in the disputed domain name.
The Respondent has not responded to this contention.
In the absence of any response from the Respondent claiming rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainants allege that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in bad faith because their mark is well known, which creates a presumption that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name to sell it to the Complainants or to use it for commercial gain. The cases cited by the Complainants in support of this argument showed facts in support of the Respondent's awareness of the Complainants' trademark rights, based on the locations of the parties, the distribution of the complainant's products, or the actions of the respondent.
In this case, in contrast, the Complainants claim trademark rights in France and the EU, and the WhoIs record indicates the Respondent is located in Mexico. The Complainants have not alleged that they own any trademark registration for the mark in Mexico, or that they have used their mark in Mexico. The Complainants have not provided evidence or arguments concerning whether the recognition of their mark extends to Mexico. The Complainants refer to the WhoIs information as "fanciful" but provide no evidence or arguments for this claim.
The Complainants further allege that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name in bad faith because the passive holding of a domain name may be considered bad faith use. The Complainants point out that the Respondent could change the redirection of the disputed domain name, or activate the disputed domain name's email servers, at any time. The Complainants note that emails using their mark could be used for phishing attempts, and the Complainants need to protect their clients from counterfeiting and fraud.
The Respondent has not responded to these contentions.
Under the totality of the circumstances, the Panel notes that the disputed domain name uses the Complainants' mark in French, and additionally uses the beginning of one Complainant's company name in French. The use of these four words is punctuated by hyphens. It seems implausible that the Respondent was unaware of the Complainants' rights when creating the disputed domain name. Further, in the absence of any relationship between the Complainants and the Respondent, it seems implausible that the disputed domain name was registered in good faith, as there is no apparent good faith use to which the Respondent might put the disputed domain name. The Respondent had the opportunity to respond and inform the Panel of any legitimate interest in the disputed domain name or any good faith basis for registration or use of the disputed domain name, but failed to do so.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being 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 <w3-credit-mutuel-caisse-federale.com> be transferred to the Complainant Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel.
Carol Anne Been
Date: March 29, 2018