WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
BPCE v. Pierre Agou Michel
Case No. D2020-2361
1. The Parties
Complainant is BPCE, France, represented by DBK – Société d’avocats, France.
Respondent is Pierre Agou Michel, Benin.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <bpceii.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 10, 2020. On September 10, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On September 11, 2020, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details.
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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on September 17, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 7, 2020. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on October 8, 2020.
The Center appointed Marina Perraki as the sole panelist in this matter on October 14, 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
Complainant is a French joint stock company, the second largest banking group in France, with 105,000 employees, serving a total of 36 million customers. Complainant offers a full range of banking, financing and insurance services through its two cooperative banking networks Banque Populaire and Caisse d’Epargne. It has a presence in more than 40 countries through different subsidiaries and maintains its main website at “www.groupebpce.fr”.
Complainant is the owner of numerous BPCE trademarks, including:
- European Union trademark registration BPCE (word) No. 8375842, filed on June 19, 2009 and registered on January 12, 2010, for services in international class 36;
- French trademark registration BPCE (word) No. 3653852, registered on May 29, 2009, for goods and services in international classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 38, 41 and 45; and
- International trademark registration BPCE (figurative) No. 1033662, registered on December 15, 2009, for services in international class 36.
Per Complaint, BPCE trademarks are well known in France and, as has been confirmed, enjoy a widespread commercial recognition (BPCE v. WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc. / Fransis Coarno, Danstic, WIPO Case No. D2020-0967).
Complainant is also the owner of domain names incorporating the BPCE trademark, directly and also through its subsidiary GCE Technologies, such as <bpce.fr> registered on November 27, 2008 and <groupebpce.fr> registered on February 25, 2009.
The Domain Name was registered on August 4, 2020 and leads to a website (the “Website”) offering banking and financial services, reproducing Complainant’s trademarks and indicating that Banque Postal de Crédit Et Investissement Internationale is the subsidiary of one of the most solid banking groups in Europe and throughout the world. The Website is available in French, English, Spanish, German and many other languages and contains an “e-banking” portal. The Website only gives general information about its services so that users create an account, thereby disclosing personal and confidential information. On the legal notice of the Website, it is indicated that the Website is published by Banque Postal de Crédit Et Investissement Internationale, SA with a capital of 584,158,371 euros and that Banque Postal de Crédit Et Investissement Internationale is approved as a credit institution and investment service provider by the Prudential Control and Resolution Authority. However, as Complainant demonstrated, a search in the companies’ trade register revealed that no such company Banque Postal de Crédit Et Investissement Internationale, SA exists. The Website also indicates that the company’s address. However, as Complainant demonstrated, when entering the address in Google maps it appears that there is no headquarters and no companies at this address. Per Complainant, the Website raises significant concerns as regards consumers’ protection.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant asserts that it has established all three elements required under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy for a transfer of the Domain Name.
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;
(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
Complainant has demonstrated rights through registration and use on the BPCE mark.
The Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the BPCE trademark of Complainant.
The Domain Name incorporates the said trademark of Complainant 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 two letters “ii” does 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 also disregarded, as gTLDs typically do not form part of the comparison on the grounds that they are required for technical reasons only (Rexel Developpements SAS v. Zhan Yequn, WIPO Case No. D2017-0275).
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 you [Respondent] of the dispute, your 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) you [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) you [Respondent] are 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 rights or legitimate interests with respect to the Domain Name. As per the Complaint, Respondent was not authorized to register the Domain Name.
Respondent did not demonstrate, prior to the notice of the dispute, any use of 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, as Complainant demonstrated, the Domain Name is used to host the Website in an 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).
Furthermore, there is no evidence on record giving rise to any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name on the part of Respondent within the meaning of paragraphs 4(c)(ii) and 4(c)(iii) of the Policy.
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 BPCE 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 (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 gives the impression that it provides financial services, namely services in the same field of business as those provided by Complainant, prominently displaying Complainant’s trademarks, thereby giving the false impression that the Website emanates from Complainant. 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 BPCE (Citrix Online LLC v. Ramalinga Reddy Sanikommu Venkata, WIPO Case No. D2012-1338).
As regards bad faith use, Complainant demonstrated that the Domain Name is employed to host the Website that provides services identical to services provided by Complainant and includes an “e-banking” portal. The Website indicates that Banque Postal de Crédit Et Investissement Internationale is the subsidiary of one of the most solid banking groups in Europe and throughout the world. The Website only gives general information about its services so that users create an account, thereby disclosing personal and confidential information. On the legal notice of the Website it is indicated that the Website is published by Banque Postal de Crédit Et Investissement Internationale, SA with a capital of 584,158,371 euros and that Banque Postal de Crédit Et Investissement Internationale is approved as a credit institution and investment service provider by the Prudential Control and Resolution Authority. As Complainant demonstrated, no company Banque Postal de Crédit Et Investissement Internationale, SA appears to exist in France. The Website also indicates the company’s address, however, no companies at this address appear to exist. As follows, information appearing on the legal notice of the Website appears to be false.
The Domain Name operates therefore by intentionally creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s trademark and business as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the Website it resolves to. This can be used in support of bad faith registration and use (WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.1.4). Furthermore, the Panel finds that Respondent has registered and used the Domain Name to disrupt the Complainant’s business.
Under these circumstances and on this record, the Panel finds that Respondent has registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith.
Complainant has established Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii).
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 <bpceii.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Date: October 28, 2020