WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Confédération Nationale Du Crédit Mutuel v. Clerget Selerine / Alain Coselle
Case No. D2019-0440
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Confédération Nationale Du Crédit Mutuel of Paris, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.
The Respondent is Clerget Selerine of Paris, France / Alain Coselle of Paris, France.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <adhesion-creditmutuel.com>, <adhesion-creditmutuel.net>, and <creditmutueladherants.com> are registered with Register NV dba Register.eu (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 26, 2019. On February 26, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On March 14, 2019, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain names which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on March 14, 2019, 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 March 15, 2019.
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 March 19, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was April 8, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on April 9, 2019.
The Center appointed Isabelle Leroux as the sole panelist in this matter on April 23, 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.
On May 23, 2019, the Administrative Panel issued the Procedural Order No 1, concerning consolidation of the Respondents. On May 24, 2019, the Complainant submitted its answer to the Center as to why the Complainant considers that the Respondent should be regarded as the same person using different identities for the purpose of this proceeding.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a French association Confédération Nationale Du Crédit Mutuel, which is the political and central body for banking group Credit Mutuel, second French group of banking and insurances services.
The Complainant owns prior rights registrations including the terms “Crédit Mutuel” in France, in the European Union (“EU”), and worldwide:
- CREDIT MUTUEL, French semi-figurative trademark No. 1475940 of July 8, 1988;
- CREDIT MUTUEL, French semi-figurative trademark No. 1646012 of November 20, 1990;
- CREDIT MUTUEL, nominative EU trademark No. 9943135 of May 5th, 2011;
- CREDIT MUTUEL semi-figurative International trademark No. 570182 of May 17, 1991, designating Benelux, Italy and Portugal.
In addition, the Complainant and its subsidiaries own, among others, the following domain names:
- <creditmutuel.info> registered on September 13, 2001;
- <creditmutuel.org> registered on June 3, 2002;
- <creditmutuel.fr> registered on August 10th, 1995;
- <creditmutuel.com> registered on October 28th 1995;
- <creditmutuel.net> registered on October 3rd, 1996.
There are two different Respondents:
- Clerget Selerine, a French individual; and
- Alain Coselle, another French individual.
The disputed domain names are:
- <adhesion-creditmutuel.com> and <adhesion-creditmutuel.net> registered on December 17, 2018, by Clerget Selerine; and,
- <creditmutueladherants.com>, registered on December 18, 2018, by Alain Coselle.
The disputed domain names resolve to parking pages.
5. Parties’ Contentions
(i) The Complainant contends that the disputed domain names are identical or confusingly similar to the trademark registrations of the Complainant, since the disputed domain names reproduce identically the CREDIT MUTUEL trademarks on which the Complainant has rights.
(ii) The Complainant contends that the Respondents have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the name “Crédit Mutuel”. The Complainant submits that the Respondents are not affiliated with the Complainant nor authorized or licensed by the Complainant to use its trademarks.
(iii) The Complainant contends that the disputed domain names were registered in bad faith. The Complainant submits that its trademarks are well-known in France and throughout the world and the Respondents knew or should have known the existence of the Complainant’s rights.
(iv) The Complainant contends that there is only one Respondent using two different identities and therefore asks the Panel to consider and approve that there is only one Respondent in this case.
(v) The Complainant requests that the disputed domain names be transferred to the Complainant.
The Respondents did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Preliminary Procedural Issue: Consolidation of Multiple Domain Names and Respondents
Paragraph 10(e) of the Rules provides that a panel shall decide a request by a party to consolidate multiple domain name disputes in accordance with the Policy and the Rules.
As stated in section 4.11.2 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), “Where a complaint is filed against multiple respondents, panels look at whether (i) the domain names or corresponding websites are subject to common control, and (ii) the consolidation would be fair and equitable to all parties. Procedural efficiency would also underpin panel consideration of such a consolidation scenario.
Panels have considered a range of factors, typically present in some combination, as useful to determining whether such consolidation is appropriate, such as similarities in or relevant aspects of
(i) the registrants’ identity(ies) including pseudonyms,
(ii) the registrants’ contact information including email address(es), postal address(es), or phone number(s), including any pattern of irregularities,
(iii) relevant IP addresses, name servers, or webhost(s),
(iv) the content or layout of websites corresponding to the disputed domain names,
(v) the nature of the marks at issue (e.g., where a registrant targets a specific sector),
(vi) any naming patterns in the disputed domain names (e.g., <mark-country> or <mark-goods>),
(vii) the relevant language/scripts of the disputed domain names particularly where they are the same as the mark(s) at issue,
(viii) any changes by the respondent relating to any of the above items following communications regarding the disputed domain name(s),
(ix) any evidence of respondent affiliation with respect to the ability to control the disputed domain name(s),
(x) any (prior) pattern of similar respondent behavior, or
(xi) other arguments made by the complainant and/or disclosures by the respondent(s)”.
In the case at hand, the Complainant requests the consolidation of the named Respondents and the disputed domain names based on the following circumstances:
- each disputed domain name was firstly registered through the same privacy proxy providers, “Redacted for Privacy”;
- respectively, each disputed domain name was registered on almost the same day, December 17 and 18, 2018;
- the three disputed domain names are built under the same syntax, associating the trademark CREDIT MUTUEL to a similar wording ADHESION / ADHERANTS;
- they have been registered through the same registrar, “Register.eu” and have the same DNS servers : ns1.register.eu; ns2.register.eu; ns3.register.eu;
- both of the Respondents are located apparently in France, in Paris, are using false contact details and are using the same email service/operator/extension “.GMX” for their email addresses;
- they are all inactive (“passive holding”),
- both of the Respondents did not reply to the Complainant’s cease and desist letters.
Given the foregoing factors, the Panel finds that the Complainant sufficiently proved that the disputed domain names are subject to common control, and will decide the case accordingly
7. Discussion and Findings
The Complainant has the burden of proving each of the following three elements under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy in order to be entitled to a transfer of the disputed domain name:
(i) the 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 domain name; and
(iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
These elements will be examined in turn below.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The relevant part of the disputed domain names <adhesion-creditmutuel.com>,<adhesion-creditmutuel.net> and <creditmutueladherants.com> are “adhesion-creditmutuel” and “creditmutueladherants” as the generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) “.com” and “.net” are not relevant in determining confusing similarity and have to be analyzed without a legal significance.
In this regard, previous UDRP panels have regularly ruled that the gTLDs, such as “.com”, are not to be taken into consideration when examining the identity or similarity between the Complainant’s trademarks and the disputed domain names (CBS Broadcasting Inc. v. Worldwide Webs, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0834).
The Complainant provided evidence that it has prior rights in the CREDIT MUTUEL trademarks, and thus well before the Respondent registered the disputed domain names. This satisfies the Panel that the Complainant has registered rights on CREDIT MUTUEL trademarks for the purposes of the Policy. The trademarks are fully and identically reproduced in the disputed domain names <creditmutueladherants.com>, <adhesion-creditmutuel.com> and <adhesion-creditmutuel.net>.
The addition of the expression “adhésion” and “adhérants” (which is misspelled, as the correct French spelling would be “adhérents”) respectively meaning “membership” or “subscription” and “members” in English does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity, as “adhésion” and “adhérants/adhérents” are dictionary terms and the main distinctive element remains “credit mutuel”. According to Section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, the addition of other terms to a trademark that is recognizable within the disputed domain name would not prevent a risk of confusion.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to the trademarks CREDIT MUTUEL on which the Complainant has prior rights, and the requirements under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy are satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant submits that the Respondent has not been authorized by the Complainant to use its trademarks and that there is no business relationship existing between the Complainant and the Respondent.
It appears that the Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain names or the name “Credit Mutuel” and the disputed domain names are not resolving to any active website.
In addition, the Complainant proved that, according to the French Ministry order No. 58-966 of October 16, 1958, the use of the wording “Credit Mutuel” is reserved to the Complainant and its affiliates.
Accordingly, the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Since the Respondent has not replied to the Complaint and, thus, has not presented any other evidence or elements to justify any rights or legitimate interests in connection with the disputed domain names, the Panel finds no indication that any of the circumstances described in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy could apply to the present matter.
Therefore, given the circumstances described above, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names and thus the requirement under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy is satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the UDRP Policy sets out examples of circumstances that will be considered by an Administrative Panel to be evidence of bad faith registration and use of a domain name, as follows:
(i) circumstances indicating that the domain name was registered or acquired primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the domain name registrant’s out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) the domain name was registered in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that the domain name registrant has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) the domain name was registered primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, the domain name registrant intentionally attempted to attract for financial gain, Internet users to the registrant’s website or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the registrant’s website or location or of a product or service on the registrant’s website or location.
It has been proved to the Panel’s satisfaction that the Complainant’s CREDIT MUTUEL trademark is well known in France and the Panel agrees with the Complainant that the Respondent, as a French individual, could not reasonably ignore the Complainant’s trademarks and activities.
Previous UDRP panels have regularly ruled that bad faith was found where a domain name is so obviously connected with a well-known trademark that its use by someone, with no connection to the trademark, suggests opportunistic bad faith. See LEGO Juris A/S v. store24hour, WIPO Case No. D2013-0091 and Carrefour v. Jean-Claude Bot / Albert Pierre, WIPO Case No. D2017-0969.
Besides, the association of the French term “adhésion” meaning “subscription” or “membership” and “adhérants/adhérents” meaning “members” in English is an expression commonly used in France, to designate a space dedicated to new clients of a company for its subscription services. The association of this term with the Complainant’s trademark will create a confusion, in which the disputed domain names would be perceived, by the public or the customers, as referring to the subscription services of the Complainant.
Accordingly, this Panel finds that the Respondent’s bad faith and its intention to take undue advantage of the Complainant’s prior rights has been demonstrated.
In the absence of a response, the Respondent offered no information on the intention of such use.
For the above reasons, the Panel finds the Respondent registered the disputed domain names in bad faith, and thus the conditions of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy has been satisfied.
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 names <creditmutueladherants.com>, <adhesion-creditmutuel.com> and <adhesion-creditmutuel.net> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: May 31, 2019