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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center


Confederation Nationale Du Credit Mutuel v. Super Privacy Service LTD c/o Dynadot / Wei Chen

Case No. D2021-0426

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Confederation Nationale Du Credit Mutuel, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.

The Respondent is Super Privacy Service LTD c/o Dynadot, United States of America / Wei Chen, China.

2. The Domain Names and Registrars

The disputed domain names, <creditmutuel.group> and <mutuel.credit> are registered with Dynadot, LLC Dynadot, LLC (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 11, 2021. On February 12, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On February 16, 2021, 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 February 19, 2021 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 5, 2021.

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 9, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 29, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 31, 2021.

The Center appointed John Swinson as the sole panelist in this matter on April 29, 2021. 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 the political and central body for the French banking group known as CREDIT MUTUEL. CREDIT MUTUEL is a French cooperative bank that was founded more than 100 years ago, and now has approximately 12 million customers.

The Complainant owns a number of trademark registrations including:

CREDIT MUTUEL No. 1475940, French trademark filed on July 8, 1988 in classes 35, 36; and
CREDIT MUTUEL No. 1646012, French trademark filed on November 20, 1990 in classes 16, 35, 36, 38 and 41.

The Respondent did not file a Response, so little is known about the Respondent.

Both disputed domain names were registered on December 25, 2020.

The websites at both disputed domain names are substantially identical. They are pay-per-click websites advertising financial and other services.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant made the following submissions in the Complaint:

Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant was one of the first French banking groups to offer online banking services to their clients.

The Complainant is the registered owner of a large number of trademarks consisting of or including the wording CREDIT MUTUEL, in France and abroad.

The trademark CREDIT MUTUEL has been recognized as well-known in prior decisions under the Policy. 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 to its related branches.

The disputed domain names are confusingly similar to the trademark CREDIT MUTUEL.

The trademark CREDIT MUTUEL is identically reproducing in the first disputed domain name <creditmutuel.group>.

The second disputed domain name <mutuel.credit> is also highly similar given that it contains the two terms of the trademark despite their inversion and the new generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.credit”. The trademark is therefore recognizable within the disputed domain name. These slight differences are insignificant, when comparing this disputed domain name with the trademark CREDIT MUTUEL.

Internet users could therefore believe that both disputed domain names are registered by the Complainant, or at least with its consent for activating a new official website.

It is proper to consolidate these proceedings and consider both disputed domain names because they are owned by the same person and were registered on the same date.

Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Respondent is not related in any way to the Complainant’s business: the Respondent is not one of the Complainant’s agents and does not carry out any activity for, or has any business with it.

The Respondent is not currently and has never been known under the wordings “CREDITMUTUEL" or “MUTUEL CREDIT”.

No license or authorization has been granted to the Respondent to make any use or apply for registration of the disputed domain names.

In similar circumstances, Panels decided that the Respondent had neither rights nor legitimate interests in issuing disputed domain names.

Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant has previously demonstrated the strong reputation and the well-known character of its trademark CREDIT MUTUEL.

In cases where the complainant’s trademark is well-known, Panels have decided that the notoriety of a complainant’s trademark creates a prima facie presumption that the respondent registered the disputed domain name for the purpose of selling it to Complainant or to one of its competitors, or that it was intended to be used in some way to attract for commercial gain users to the website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark.

The Respondent has registered these disputed domain names precisely because the Respondent knew the well-known character of the trademark CREDIT MUTUEL.

The disputed domain names were being used to divert Internet users seeking the Complainant’s website to the websites of competitors, thereby disrupting the Complainant’s business. The disputed domain names were consequently registered primarily for this purpose, probably with the ulterior aim of sale to the Complainant for a profit.

The Respondent’s websites are confusing and disruptive in that visitors to the site might reasonably believe the disputed domain names are connected to or approved by the Complainant as it offers links to competitors of the Complainant, like GROUPAMA, MATMUT, ASSURLAND, MACIF under signs confusingly similar to the Complainant’s mark.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

To succeed, the Complainant must demonstrate that all of the elements enumerated in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been satisfied, namely:

(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.

The onus of proving these elements is on the Complainant even though the Respondent failed to submit a Response.

Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules directs the Panel to decide the complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.

A. Procedural Issue – Multiple Domain Names

The Complaint is in relation to two disputed domain names. Paragraph 3(c) of the Rules states that “the complaint may relate to more than one domain name, provided that the domain names are registered by the same domain-name holder”.

Paragraph 10(e) of the Rules gives the Panel discretion to decide a request by a Party to consolidate multiple domain name disputes in accordance with the Policy and the Rules.

In this case, the disputed domain names are both registered by Wei Chen. They were registered on the same day with the same registrar, and the websites at the disputed domain names have almost identical content.

The Panel is satisfied that the disputed domain names are under common control and that it is procedurally efficient to consolidate the proceedings.

B. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant has clearly proven ownership of numerous registered trademarks for CREDIT MUTUEL.

The disputed domain name <creditmutuel.group> is identical to that trademark, disregarding the domain “.group”.

The disputed domain name <mutuel.credit> when considered in its entirety (including the domain .credit) comprises the two words of the Complainant’s trademark but in reverse order.

In most cases under the Policy, the domain or Top-Level Domain (i.e. what is after the dot, the “TLD”) is ignored when considering confusing similarity. However, where the applicable TLD and the second-level portion of the domain name in combination contain the relevant trademark panels have considered the text on “both sides of the dot” when addressing the “confusing similarity” issue. See, e.g., WeWork Companies, Inc. v. Michael Chiriac, Various Concepts Inc., WIPO Case No. D2016-1817; Tesco Stores Limited v. Mat Feakins, WIPO Case No. DCO2013-0017; and Première Vision contre Pierre-Olivier Fluder, WIPO Case No. D2014-2036 (disputed domain name <tes.co> held confusingly similar to TESCO mark). See also MOD Super Fast Pizza, LLC v. Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC / Ken Thorn, WIPO Case No. D2016-1568 <mod.pizza>; and Compagnie Générale des Etablissements Michelin v. Pacharapatr W., WIPO Case No. D2016-2465.

The Panel finds that the disputed domain name <mutuel.credit>, considered in its entirety, is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s CREDIT MUTUEL trademark.

The Complainant succeeds on the first element of the Policy in relation to both the disputed domain names.

C. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The second requirement the Complainant must prove is that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides that the following circumstances can be situations in which the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name:

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

(ii) [the Respondent] (as an individual, business, or other organization) has been commonly known by the [disputed] domain name, even if [the Respondent] has acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or

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

These are illustrative only and are not an exhaustive listing of the situations in which a respondent can show rights or legitimate interests in a domain name.

The onus of proving this requirement, like each element, falls on the Complainant.

Panels have recognized the difficulties inherent in proving a negative, however, especially in circumstances where much of the relevant information is in, or likely to be in, the possession of the respondent. Accordingly, it is sufficient for a complainant to raise a prima facie case against the respondent under this head and an evidential burden will shift to the respondent to rebut that prima facie case.

There is no evidence that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain names.

The Respondent is making a commercial use of the disputed domain names by using them for pay-per-click websites.

The use of the Complainant’s trademark for a pay-per-click website that has links advertising competitors of the Complainant would not support a claim by the Respondent to rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names.

In these circumstances, the Complainant has established a clear prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names. The Respondent has not sought to rebut that prima facie case. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant succeeds on the second element of the Policy in relation to the disputed domain names.

D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant’s trademark CREDIT MUTUEL is well-known, at least in France.

The disputed domain names were registered in 2020. At this time, the Complainant had been using its CREDIT MUTUEL trademark for over a century. It is highly unlikely that the Respondent was unaware of the Complainant when registering the disputed domain names.

There is no obvious reason for the Respondent to register the disputed domain names other than for the purpose of attempting to trade off the Complainant’s goodwill in the CREDIT MUTUEL trademark.

Both disputed domain names resolve to a pay-per-click website advertising services of competitors of the Complainant. The Panel finds that each of these pay-per-click websites is a bad faith use of the respective disputed domain name. Owens Corning v. NA, WIPO Case No. D2007-1143; Rolex Watch U.S.A., Inc. v. Vadim Krivitsky, WIPO Case No. D2008-0396); Avid Dating Life Inc. v. Calico Draconia, WIPO Case No. D2015-1324.

Thus, it is reasonable for the Panel to conclude that the Respondent intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent’s websites by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the source of the website. This is an indicator of bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.

The Complainant succeeds on the third element of the Policy in relation to the disputed domain name.

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 disputed domain names <creditmutuel.group> and <mutuel.credit> be transferred to the Complainant.

John Swinson
Sole Panelist
Date: May 5, 2021