WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Confédération nationale du crédit mutuel v. Yu Ke Rong
Case No. D2018-0948
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Confédération nationale du crédit mutuel of Paris, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.
The Respondent is Yu Ke Rong of Zhongshan, Guangdong, China.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <creditmutuel.store> is registered with Alibaba Cloud Computing Ltd. d/b/a HiChina (www.net.cn) (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed in English with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 27, 2018. On April 27, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 28, 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.
On May 7, 2018, the Center sent a communication to the Parties, in English and Chinese, regarding the language of the proceeding. On May 9, 2018, the Complainant confirmed its request that English be the language of the proceeding. The Respondent did not comment on the language of the proceeding.
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, in both English and Chinese, of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on May 15, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was June 4, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 5, 2018.
The Center appointed Deanna Wong Wai Man as the sole panelist in this matter on June 13, 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 is a publicly traded company headquartered in France, and is active in the banking and insurance industries. The Complainant is among the largest French banking and insurance services groups, with 3,178 brick-and-mortar offices, providing online and offline services to 12 million clients through its offices and its websites accessed through the domain names listed in the following paragraph.
The Complainant owns a portfolio of trademark registrations for CREDIT MUTUEL (word and device marks) in several jurisdictions in Europe, e.g., French device mark number 1475940 registered on July 8, 1988, and European Union trademark number 9943135, registered on October 20, 2011. The Complainant also owns a portfolio of domain names through which it provides online services, including <creditmutuel.com>, registered on October 28, 1995; <creditmutuel.fr>, registered on August 10, 1995, and <creditmutuel.net.cn>, registered on December 10, 2008. All registered trademarks and domain names adduced by the Complainant were successfully registered prior to the registration date of the disputed domain name, which was registered on May 21, 2017. At the time of filing of the Complaint, the disputed domain name redirected to a parking webpage with sponsored links proposing financial services and referring to some of the Complainant’s competitors. The disputed domain name no longer resolves to an active webpage.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant essentially contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its trademarks for CREDIT MUTUEL, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, and that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Complainant claims that its trademarks are famous and well regarded in the online and offline banking and insurance services industry, and provides evidence of its marketing materials used on the Internet. The Complainant also provides a number of UDPR cases in which previous panels have ruled that the Complainant’s CREDIT MUTUEL trademark is well-known. The Complainant also provides reverse WhoIs search results, showing that the Respondent has registered no less than 127 domain names, most of them reproducing or imitating well-known trademarks (MONSANTO, NESCAFE, NESTLE, TDBANK, etc.). Moreover, the Complainant provides evidence that the disputed domain name was linked to an active website, offering links to competing services, using the Complainant’s trademarks, without any reference to a license, distribution agreement or other permission from the Complainant. The Complainant essentially contends that such use does not confer any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain names and constitutes use in bad faith.
The Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain name.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
6.1. Preliminary Issue: Language of proceeding
Pursuant to paragraph 11(a) of the Rules, the language of the administrative proceeding shall be the language of the Registration Agreement, subject to the authority of the Panel to determine otherwise having regard to the circumstances of the administrative proceeding.
According to the Complainant the Registration Agreement is in Chinese, however, the Complainant has filed the Complaint in English and requests that the language of proceeding be English.
The Panel has carefully considered all elements of this case, in particular, the Complainant’s request that the language of proceeding be English; the lack of response of the Respondent (the Panel notes that the Respondent had the opportunity to put forward arguments in either English or Chinese); the fact that the website to which the disputed domain name before deactivation contained not a single word in Chinese and was at least partially in English; and the fact that Chinese as the language of proceedings could lead to unwarranted delay and costs for the Complainant. In view of all these elements, the Panel rules that the language of proceeding shall be English.
6.2. Discussion and Findings
The Policy requires the Complainant to prove three elements:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Based on the evidence submitted, the Panel’s findings are as follows:
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the Complainant has shown that it has valid rights in the sign CREDIT MUTUEL based on its intensive use and registration of the same as a trademark. As stated in section 1.1.2. of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), “Noting in particular the global nature of the Internet and Domain Name System, the jurisdiction(s) where the trademark is valid is not considered relevant to panel assessment under the first element”. It follows that it is irrelevant that the Complainant does not adduce any Chinese registrations for CREDIT MUTUEL.
Moreover, the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s trademark CREDIT MUTUEL, incorporating it in its entirety. The generic Top-Level Domain “.store” does not differentiate it from the Complainant’s trademark. As stated in section 1.11.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, the generic Top-Level Domain “is viewed as a standard registration requirement and as such is disregarded”. Accordingly, the Panel rules that the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s trademark so that the first element required by the Policy is fulfilled.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has demonstrated that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Complainant has not granted any license, or other permission for the Respondent to register the disputed domain name fully incorporating the Complainant’s trademark. The Panel notes that the Respondent is not an authorized reseller or distributor, and is not making a legitimate noncommercial use or fair use of the Complainant’s trademarks. The Panel therefore considers that none of the circumstances of legitimate interests envisaged by paragraph 4(c) of the Policy apply. The Panel further also notes that no evidence or arguments have been submitted by the Respondent in reply. In the circumstances of the present case, the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name in connection with a website displaying sponsored links, including to competitors of the Complainant, does not amount to a bona fide use of the disputed domain name within the meaning of the Policy. The Panel therefore rules that the Complainant has satisfied the requirements of the second element under the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Given the reputation and fame of the Complainant’s trademark and the Complainant’s prior registration of almost identical, domain names, the registration of the disputed domain name is clearly intended to mislead and divert consumers to the disputed domain name. Even a cursory Internet search would have already made it clear to the Respondent that the Complainant owns a trademark in CREDIT MUTUEL and uses it extensively. The choice of generic Top-Level Domain “.store” is, in this case, even likely to increase the likelihood of confusion. It may induce Internet users to believe that there is an association between the disputed domain name and the Complainant, as it suggests that the disputed domain name leads to the Complainant’s official website or online services or sales system. In the Panel’s view, this clearly indicates the bad faith of the Respondent, and the Panel therefore rules that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in bad faith.
As to use of the disputed domain name in bad faith, the website linked to the disputed domain name was previously used as a platform advertising services competing with those of the Complainant, containing what pay-per-click hyperlinks to competitors of the Complainant (such as Targo Bank, Banque Française Mutualiste, AlloBank.com, etc.). Such use of the disputed domain name is clearly intended to divert consumers seeking the Complainant to the websites of the Complainant’s competitors. Moreover, according to evidence submitted by the Complainant, the Respondent has registered no less than 127 domain names, most of them reproducing or imitating well-known trademarks (MONSANTO, NESCAFE, NESTLE, TDBANK, etc.). This leads the Panel to conclude that the Respondent is engaged in a bad faith pattern of domain name registration, and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith to take unfair advantage of the Complainant’s trademarks. The Panel therefore rules that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Finally, the Respondent has failed to provide any response or evidence to establish its good faith or absence of bad faith. The Panel therefore rules that the Complainant has satisfied the requirements of the third element under 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 name <creditmutuel.store> be transferred to the Complainant.
Deanna Wong Wai Man
Date: June 26, 2018