WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Crédit Foncier de France v. Denis James

Case No. D2020-1382

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Crédit Foncier de France, France, represented by DBK – Société d’avocats, France.

The Respondent is Denis James, United States of America (“United States”).

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <creditefoncier.org> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with Web4Africa Inc. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 31, 2020. On June 2, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On June 3, 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 the Complainant on June 9, 2020 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Center received an email communication from the Respondent on June 10, 2020. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on June 11, 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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on June 12, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was July 2, 2020. On June 12, 2020, the Center received another communication from the Respondent. The Center notified the commencement of Panel appointment process on July 3, 2020.

The Center appointed Mathias Lilleengen as the sole panelist in this matter on July 8, 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

The Complainant is a French national mortgage bank created in 1852. It is specialized in real estate financing and services in France. The Complainant is a subsidiary of Groupe BPCE, one of the largest banking groups in France. The Complainant serves its clients’ real estate needs, both individuals and real estate professionals.

The Complainant is the owner of 37 French trademarks, for example French trademark n° 3796582, registered on January 11, 2020. The Complainant also owns the domain name registrations <creditfoncier.fr> registered in 1997, and <creditfoncier.org> registered in 1999.

According to the Registrar, the Respondent registered the Domain Name on May 26, 2020. At the time of the Complaint and at the time of drafting the Decision, the Domain Name resolved to an error page.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant provides evidence of trademark registrations. The Complainant argues that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark as the Domain Name incorporates the trademark CRÉDIT FONCIER with the addition of the letter “e” between the two words.

The Complainant argues that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. The Complainant asserts that the Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant, nor is the Respondent authorized to use the Complainant’s trademark. There is no evidence of the Respondent’s use of, or preparations to use, the Domain Name or a name corresponding to the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering. On the contrary, the registration of the Domain Name seems to be an intentional misspelling of the Complainant’s trademark that cannot constitute fair use. Moreover, there has been no actual use of the Domain Name.

The Complainant believes it is evident that the Respondent was aware of the fact that it incorporated the Complainant’s trademark in the Domain Name. The Complainant’s trademarks registrations pre-date the registration of the Domain Name. The Complainant’s trademarks are well-known in France and through the world, notably by the financial and banking market. In the view of the Complainant, the choice of the Domain Name seems to have been done on purpose to generate a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademarks. The Respondent’s passive holding of the Domain Name satisfies the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(iii) that the domain name “is being used in bad faith” as the Complainant’s trademarks have a strong reputation, there is no evidence of good faith use of the Domain Name, and the Respondent is typosquatting, with masked identity and false registration information.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant has established that it has rights in the trademark CRÉDIT FONCIER.

The test for confusing similarity involves the comparison between the trademark and the Domain Name. In this case, the Domain Name incorporates the trademark CRÉDIT FONCIER with the addition of the letter “e” between the two words comprising the mark. The addition does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the Domain Name and the Complainant’s trademark. For the purpose of assessing under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy, the Panel may ignore the generic Top-Level domain (“gTLD”) “.org”; see WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.11.

The Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Complainant has made unrebutted assertions that it has not granted any authorization to the Respondent to register the Domain Name containing the Complainant’s trademark or otherwise make use of its mark. Based on the evidence, the Respondent is not affiliated or related to the Complainant in any way. There is no evidence that the Respondent has registered the Domain Name as a trademark or acquired common law or unregistered trademark rights. There is no evidence of the 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. On the contrary, the registration seems to be an intentional misspelling of the Complainant’s trademark in order to generate a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademarks.

The Panel finds that the Complainant has made out an unrebutted prima facie case. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Panel finds it likely that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant when the Respondent registered the Domain Name. The Complainant’s trademarks registrations pre-date the Domain Name registration. The Panel agrees that the choice of the Domain Name seems to have been on purpose to generate a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademarks. The Respondent’s non-use the Domain Name does not prevent a finding of bad faith under the doctrine of passive holding, see WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.6. The Complainant’s trademarks have a reputation, there is no evidence of good faith use of the Domain Name, and, finally, the Respondent has concealed its identity and used what appears to be false contact details.

For the reasons set out above, the Panel concludes that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith, within the meaning of 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 Domain Name <creditefoncier.org> be transferred to the Complainant.

Mathias Lilleengen
Sole Panelist
Date: July 22, 2020