WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Renault SAS v. Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 1243618345 / Alonso
Case No. D2018-2915
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Renault SAS of Boulogne Billancourt, France, represented by Dreyfus & associés, France.
The Respondent is Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 1243618345 of Toronto, Canada / Alonso of Paris, France.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <group-renault.com> is registered with Google Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 21, 2018. On December 21, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the isputed domain name. On December 21, 2018, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on December 24, 2018 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on December 27, 2018.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended 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 December 28, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was January 17, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 18, 2019.
The Center appointed Alexandre Nappey as the sole panelist in this matter on January 29, 2019. 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.
Having reviewed the communication records in the case file provided by the Center, the Panel finds that the Center has discharged its responsibility under the Rules, paragraph 2(a), “to employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice to Respondent”. Therefore, the Panel shall issue its Decision based upon the Complaint, the Policy, the Rules and the Supplemental Rules and without the benefit of a Response from the Respondent.
The language of the proceeding is English, being the language of the Registration Agreement, as per paragraph 11(a) of the Rules.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is Renault SAS, belonging to the Renault Group, operating as a leader in the automotive field since 1898 all around the world and owning many trademark registrations and applications for RENAULT, including:
- United States of America Trademark Registration No. 3072692 RENAULT, registered on March 28, 2006;
- European Union Trademark Registration No. 009732744 RENAULT, registered on August 22, 2011.
The disputed domain name <group-renault.com> was registered on December 17, 2018. The disputed domain name has been used to send a fraudulent email from the address “[…]@group-renault.com” to a supplier of the Complainant. At the time of filing the Complaint, the disputed domain name was not active.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant states that the disputed domain name <group-renault.com> is confusingly similar to its prior trademark RENAULT.
Moreover, the Complainant asserts that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name since it has not been authorized by the Complainant to use it, it is not commonly known by the disputed domain name, nor is the Respondent making neither a bona fide offering of goods or services nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
The Complainant submits that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name in bad faith, since the Complainant’s trademark RENAULT is distinctive and well known all around the world. Therefore, the Respondent could not ignore the Complainant’s trademark at the time of registration of the disputed domain name and the Complainant cannot see a use of the disputed domain name by the Respondent that would not amount to bad faith, taking into account that the Respondent failed to provide correct contact details in the WhoIs database. Rather, while the Respondent is not using the disputed domain name to operate a website, the Complainant claims that the Respondent has tried to impersonate the Complainant by using an email address based on the disputed domain name and contact the Complainant’s supplier.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists three elements, which the Complainant must satisfy in order to succeed:
(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.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the Complainant is the owner of the trademark RENAULT, both by registration and by acquired reputation and that the disputed domain name <group-renault.com> is confusingly similar to the trademark RENAULT.
The addition of the term “group” which is merely descriptive to designate an economic or legal entity formed of parent and affiliated companies does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the Complainant’s trademark and the disputed domain name.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Following the second condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant has to prove that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
Following standard practice, the Complainant asserted not to have granted to the Respondent any right to register and use its trademark RENAULT nor to grant any authorization to register and use the disputed domain name. Besides, as alleged by the Complainant, the Respondent is in no way affiliated with the Complainant.
Furthermore, the disputed domain name does not resolve to any active website and appears to have been registered and used only for conducting fraudulent activities as detailed below.
Absent of any defense on this point by the Respondent, the Panel considers that the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
Considering the foregoing, the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy lists a number of circumstances, which without of limitation, are deemed evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith. These are:
(i) circumstances indicating that [a respondent has] registered or acquired a disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the disputed domain name to the complainant or to a competitor of the complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of [the respondent’s] documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the disputed domain name; or
(ii) [the respondent has] registered the disputed domain name in order to prevent the complainant from reflecting the complainant’s trademark or service mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that [the respondent has] engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) the respondent has registered the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the disputed domain name, [the respondent has] intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [the respondent’s] 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 [the respondent’s] website or location or of a product or service on [the respondent’s] website or location.
Given the circumstances detailed by the Complainant, it is obvious that the disputed domain name, which incorporates the Complainant’s trademark and reproduces, almost identically the Complainant’s domain name <renault.com> and also to the corporate subdomain operated by the Complainant, under <group.renault.com> was registered and used for the purpose of conducting fraudulent activities by taking profit of the reputation of the Complainant’s Trademark.
Indeed, the disputed domain name has been used to contact the Complainant’s suppliers by impersonating the Complainant’s identity. It is evident that the purpose of the Respondent was to create confusion as to the source of the emails sent, informing that the Complainant’s CEO is suspected for concealment of income and therefore, the accounts of the Complainant have been frozen for an undetermined period.
Moreover, the association of the trademark RENAULT with the term “group” reinforces the confusion as the disputed domain name might be regarded in concerned professionals’ mind as originating from / linked to the Complainant, all the more so as it reproduces the Complainant’s domain name in an almost identical way.
See for instance Minerva S.A. v. Miranda, WIPO Case No. D2018-0763.
Accordingly, the Panel considers that the Complainant satisfies the conditions set forth in paragraph 4(a) (iii) of 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 <group-renault.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: February 26, 2019