WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

EFG Bank European Financial Group SA v. Rifi Rifi, RIFI

Case No. D2020-0477

1. The Parties

Complainant is EFG Bank European Financial Group SA, Switzerland, represented by CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP, United Kingdom.

Respondent is Rifi, RIFI, Benin.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <efg-bk.com> (“Domain Name”) is registered with Tucows Inc. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 27, 2020. On February 28, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On February 28, 2020, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Domain Name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to Complainant on March 11, 2020 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainant filed an amended Complaint on March 16, 2020.

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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on March 18, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was April 7, 2020. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on April 8, 2020.

The Center appointed Marina Perraki as the sole panelist in this matter on April 20, 2020. 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

Per Complaint, Complainant is a Swiss bank licensed and supervised by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority. Complainant is the major shareholder of EFG International group of companies, headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, offering global private banking and asset management services. One entity of Complainant’s group is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange. Founded in 1995 Complainant’s group has been using EFG as tradename and brand since 1996. At the time of filing of the Complaint, it operated in 27 countries worldwide under the EFG brand, with more than 3,000 employees and managed assets in excess of CHF 150 billion. As a result, Complainant’s brand EFG has acquired and enjoys a high degree of consumer recognition in the field of financial services.

Complainant owns numerous trademark registrations worldwide consisting of or comprising the brand EFG or EFG GROUP, including European Union trademark registration No. 582742, EFG (word), filed on July 11, 1997 and registered on January 25, 1999 for services in international class 36 and European Union trademark registration No. 16276677 EFG (device) filed on January 23, 2017 and registered on May 16, 2017 for services in international class 36.

The Domain Name was registered on April 15, 2019 and at the time of filing of the Complaint it resolved to a website prominently displaying the sign EFG along with the word “Group”. The Domain Name currently resolves to an inactive page.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

Complainant asserts that it has established all three elements required under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy for a transfer of the Domain Name.

Complainant submits that at the time of filing of the Complaint the Domain Name resolved to a website prominently displaying the sign EFG along with the word “Group”, purporting to offer various financial services under that sign by an entity “European Financial Group”, namely a supposed entity with a company name practically identical to that of Complainant “EFG Bank European Financial Group SA” (the Website). The Website allegedly did not offer real financial services by a genuine entity and was highly likely, per Complainant, a fraudulent one. As Complainant demonstrated, a) the Website displayed links to Terms and Conditions, Cookie Policy and Data Protection Information, none of which resolved to accessible webpages, b) the Website did not provide any contact information of the purported financial services company apart from a French mobile phone number, while Respondent appears on the WhoIs as based in Benin and the Websites’ original language was German, c) the Website appeared to be from a “European Financial Group”, whereas Respondent’s contact details, as well as the organization name, are registered on the WhoIs as “Rifi” and Respondent did not provide a full address. Furthermore, Complainant submits that previously Complainant was informed of an email which fraudulently purported to originate from Complainant, bearing in the signature section a copy of Complainant’s EFG device mark and using the email address “[...]@efgbk.com”, hence using the domain name <efgbk.com> which is practically identical to the Domain Name. The email enquired on payment from its recipient.

B. Respondent

Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists the three elements which Complainant must satisfy with respect to the Domain Name:

(i) the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and

(ii) 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.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Domain Name incorporates Complainant’s trademark EFG in its entirety. This is sufficient to establish confusing similarity (Magnum Piering, Inc. v. The Mudjackers and Garwood S. Wilson, Sr., WIPO Case No. D2000-1525).

The addition of the hyphen “-” and the letters “bk” at the end of the Domain Name do not prevent a finding of confusing similarity (WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.8).

The generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com” is disregarded, as gTLDs typically do not form part of the comparison on the grounds that they are required for technical reasons (Rexel Developpements SAS v. Zhan Yequn, WIPO Case No. D2017-0275; Hay & Robertson International Licensing AG v. C. J. Lovik, WIPO Case No. D2002-0122).

The Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the EFG mark of Complainant.

Complainant has established Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Pursuant to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, Respondent may establish its rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name, among other circumstances, by showing any of the following elements:

(i) before any notice to Respondent of the dispute, Respondent’s use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the Domain Name or a name corresponding to the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or

(ii) Respondent (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the Domain Name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or

(iii) Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.

The Panel concludes that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.

Respondent has not submitted any response and has not claimed any such rights or legitimate interests with respect to the Domain Name. As per Complainant, Respondent was not authorized to register the Domain Name.

Respondent has not demonstrated any preparations to use, or has not used the Domain Name or a trademark corresponding to the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.

On the contrary, as Complainant demonstrated, the Domain Name was used to host the Website to impersonate Complainant and attempt to mislead consumers into thinking that the financial services purportedly offered on the Website originate from Complainant. Such use demonstrates neither a bona fide offering of services nor a legitimate interest of Respondent (Arkema France v. Aaron Blaine, WIPO Case No. D2015-0502, WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.13.1).

The Domain Name currently resolves to an inactive page.

The Panel finds that these circumstances do not confer upon Respondent any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.

Complainant has established Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii).

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides that the following circumstances, “in particular but without limitation”, are evidence of the registration and use of the Domain Name in “bad faith”:

(i) circumstances indicating that Respondent has registered or has acquired the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the Domain Name registration to Complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of its documented out of pocket costs directly related to the Domain Name; or

(ii) that Respondent has registered the Domain Name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) that Respondent has registered the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) that by using the Domain Name, Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to Respondent’s website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of Respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on Respondent’s website or location.

The Panel concludes that Respondent has registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith.

Because the EFG mark had been widely used and registered by Complainant before the Domain Name registration, the Panel finds it more likely than not that Respondent had Complainant’s mark in mind when registering the Domain Name (Tudor Games, Inc. v. Domain Hostmaster, Customer ID No. 09382953107339 dba Whois Privacy Services Pty Ltd / Domain Administrator, Vertical Axis Inc., WIPO Case No. D2014-1754; Parfums Christian Dior v. Javier Garcia Quintas and Christiandior.net, WIPO Case No. D2000-0226).

Respondent should have known about Complainant’s rights, as such knowledge is readily obtainable through a simple browser search and also due to Complainant’s nature of business, provided also online, namely online banking (See Caesars World, Inc. v. Forum LLC, WIPO Case No. D2005-0517; Compart AG v. Compart.com / Vertical Axis Inc., WIPO Case No. D2009-0462).

Furthermore, the content of the Website gave the impression that it provided financial services, namely services in the same field of business as those provided by Complainant, prominently displaying EFG signs on the Website, along with the word “Group”, thereby giving the false impression that the Website emanated from Complainant’ s group. This further supports registration in bad faith reinforcing the likelihood of confusion, as Internet users are likely to consider the Domain Name as in some way endorsed by or connected with Complainant (WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.1.4).

The above further indicates that Respondent knew of Complainant and chose the Domain Name with knowledge of Complainant and its industry (Safepay Malta Limited v. ICS Inc., WIPO Case No. D2015-0403).

Furthermore, Respondent could have conducted a trademark search and should have found Complainant’s prior registrations in respect of EFG (Citrix Online LLC v. Ramalinga Reddy Sanikommu Venkata, WIPO Case No. D2012-1338).

As regards bad faith use, Complainant demonstrated that the Domain Name was employed to host a Website which appeared to offer financial services but was per Complainant likely a fraudulent one. The Website displayed links to Terms and Conditions, Cookie Policy and Data Protection Information, none of which resolved to accessible webpages. The Website did not provide any contact information of the financial services company purportedly offering such services, e.g. an address. It only provided a French phone number, which per Complainant, was a mobile phone number. Respondent is recorded in the Whois to be based in Benin, not France, while the Website was in German. The Website appeared to be from a “European Financial Group”, namely an entity with a name practically identical to Complainant’s company name, while the purported offering was under the sign EFG along with the word “Group”, enhancing risk of confusion with Complainant’s group of companies EFG. It contained, inter alia, sections under “Loan Application” and “Log In”.

The Panel finds that Respondent has registered and used the Domain Name in order to prevent Complainant from reflecting its trademark and trade name in a corresponding domain name and to disrupt its business. Furthermore, the Domain Name has been operated by intentionally creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s trademark and business. This supports the finding of bad faith use (Arkema France v. Aaron Blaine, supra; Aktiebolaget Electrolux v. Priscilla Quaiotti Passos, WIPO Case No. D2011-0388 and WIPO Overview 3.0, sections 3.1.4 and 3.2.1). Furthermore, use of a domain name for purposes such as phishing, identity theft, or malware distribution, in which respondent may host a copycat version of the complainant’s website, constitutes bad faith use (WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.4).

The Domain Name currently leads to an inactive website. The non-use of a domain name would not prevent a finding of bad faith (See Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003;WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.3).

Under these circumstances and on this record, the Panel finds that Respondent registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith.

Complainant has established Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii).

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 Domain Name <efg-bk.com> be transferred to Complainant.

Marina Perraki
Sole Panelist
Date: May 4, 2020