WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Association des Centres Distributeurs E. Leclerc – A.C.D. Lec v. Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp.

Case No. D2018-0483

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Association des Centres Distributeurs E. Leclerc – A.C.D. Lec of Ivry-sur-Seine, France, represented by Inlex IP Expertise, France.

The Respondent is Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp. of Nassau, the Bahamas.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <e-leclérc.com> is registered with Internet Domain Service BS Corp (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 2, 2018. On March 5, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On March 6, 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 March 12, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was April 1, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on April 4, 2018.

The Center appointed Erica Aoki as the sole panelist in this matter on April 17, 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.

The language for the present administrative proceeding is English.

4. Factual Background

The Complainant in this administrative proceeding is Association des Centres Distributeurs E. Leclerc – A.C.D. Lec, a French association officially founded on July 21, 1964, by Édouard Leclerc and Jean-Pierre Le Roch, the creator of Galec and the owner of the region’s first distribution center.

E. Leclerc stands for the family name of one of the founders of the association.

The Complainant has continuously used the E LECLERC mark in commerce for 54 years since its foundation in connection with its chain of super and hypermarket stores and owns the European Union trademark registration no. 002700664 for E LECLERC filed on May 17, 2002 and registered on January 31, 2005 in classes1-45, prior to the registration of the disputed domain name.

The Complainant has continuously owned and operated a website under the domain name <e-leclerc.com> since May 28, 1996.

The disputed domain name was registered by the Respondent on October 31, 2017. At the time of the filing of the Complaint, the disputed domain name resolved to a parking page containing links to the Complainant’s and its competitors’ websites.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant (informally known as “Leclerc”) is a French cooperative society and hypermarket chain, headquartered in Ivry-sur-Seine. It was established on January 1, 1948 by Édouard Leclerc.

The Complainant currently has more than 500 locations in France and 114 stores outside of the country, as of 2012. The chain enables semi-independent stores to operate under the Leclerc brand.

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark since it is comprised of the Complainant’s E LECLERC mark in its entirety, plus the acute accent on the second “e”. The Respondent’s disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s mark under the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).

Furthermore, the Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in relation to the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not affiliated or related to the Complainant in any way, or licensed or otherwise authorized to use the Complainant’s mark in connection with a website or for any other purpose. The Respondent is not using the disputed domain name in connection with any bona fide offering of goods or services, is not generally known by the disputed domain name, and has not acquired any trademark or service mark rights in that name or mark.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

In order for the Complainant to obtain the transfer of the disputed domain name, it has to satisfy the following requirements specified under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy:

(i) that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in respect of which the Complainant has rights; and

(ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and

(iii) that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Based on the facts presented by the Complainant, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a mark in which the Complainant has rights, as required under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy. The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark, as the disputed domain name consists of the Complainant’s E LECLERC mark with an acute accent to the second letter “e”.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the first element of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Panel finds the following on the record in this proceeding:

- The Respondent is in default and thus has made no affirmative attempt to show any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name;

- The Respondent is in no way connected with the Complainant and has no authorization to use any of the Complainant’s trademarks; and

- There is no evidence that the Respondent is or was commonly known by the disputed domain name as an individual, business or other organization.

Thus, in the Panel’s view, the Complainant has made a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. There is no evidence of the Respondent’s use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the disputed domain name or a name corresponding to the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.

Further, the Panel notes that the Respondent has not used the disputed domain name in connection with a legitimate noncommercial or fair use activity.

The Panel therefore finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant contends that the Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith. The Panel notes that given the distinctiveness and notoriety of the Complainant’s E LECLERC trademark, in France as well as in surrounding countries, there is likely no reasonable explanation for the Respondent to have registered this domain name other than to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the website associated with the disputed domain name by creating a confusion with the Complainant’s brand. In addition, the Complainant contends the Respondent’s use of a privacy service to conceal its identity is indicative of bad faith registration as such service hinders the Complainant’s ability to enforce its trademark rights.

As to use of the disputed domain name in bad faith, the disputed domain name points to a pay-per-click page with links to the Complainant’s and its competitors’ websites, from which the Respondent likely benefits by receiving pay-per-click commissions. The Respondent is intentionally diverting customers to its website who are searching for the Complainant’s products and services, which in this Panel’s view does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services. Furthermore, the Respondent did not respond to the Complainant’s emails requesting that Respondent cease use of the Complainant’s trademark, nor has the Respondent come forward to rebut the contentions made in the present Complaint.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith, under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

7. Decision

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 <e-leclérc.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Erica Aoki
Sole Panelist
Date: May 2, 2018