WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Association des Centres Distributeurs E. Leclerc v. Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp.

Case No. D2018-2278

1. The Parties

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

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

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <e-lẹclerc.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 October 8, 2018. On October 8, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 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 and contact information for the disputed domain name.

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 October 15, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 4, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 5, 2018.

The Center appointed Tobias Zuberbühler as the sole panelist in this matter on November 7, 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 operates a chain of super- and hypermarkets in France and several other European countries. It owns multiple trademark registration incorporating its E LECLERC trademark, including the European Union Trademark Registration No. 002700664 issued on January 31, 2005, and a domain name registration for <e-leclerc.com> since May 28, 1996.

The disputed domain name was registered on June 26, 2018. It is resolving to a website with automatically generated links relating to the name “Leclerc”.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant alleges that it has satisfied all elements of the Policy, paragraph 4.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s registered mark except that it replaces the letter “e” in the Complainant’s mark with the non-ASCII character “ẹ” (i.e. an “e” with an underdot) and includes a hyphen instead of a blank space between “e” and “leclerc”.

The Panel finds it likely that many Internet users, on seeing the disputed domain name <e-lẹclerc.com>, would disregard the underdot and would find the disputed domain name confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark E LECLERC.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights and that the Complainant has fulfilled paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

There are no indications before the Panel of any rights or legitimate interests of the Respondent in respect of the disputed domain name.

The use of the disputed domain name, the type face of which is virtually identical to the Complainant’s trademark, for a website containing links related to the name “Leclerc” cannot be considered as use in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor as a legitimate noncommercial or fair use.

Based on the Complainant’s credible contentions, the Panel finds that the Complainant, having made out a prima facie case which remains unrebutted by the Respondent, has fulfilled the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Under the circumstances of this case, it can be inferred that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s trademark when registering the disputed domain name.

The Panel finds that there is sufficient evidence that the Respondent is attempting to attract Internet users for commercial gain to its website, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of its website, which fulfills paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.

Furthermore, the Panel notes that the minimal differences between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s trademark are, and are doubtless intended to be, deceptive and easily overlooked or ignored, which by itself demonstrates bad faith.

In summary, the Panel finds that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith, thus fulfilling 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-lẹclerc.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Tobias Zuberbühler
Sole Panelist
Date: November 19, 2018