WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Belfius Bank S.A., Belfius Bank N.V. v. Privacy service provided by Withheld for Privacy ehf / sdydyaudsdf dfi8auaj / Carolien Dolman / Hayaia Monamoer / jans dans
Case No. D2021-1396
1. The Parties
The Complainants are Belfius Bank S.A. and Belfius Bank N.V., Belgium, internally represented.
The Respondents are Privacy service provided by Withheld for Privacy ehf, Iceland / sdydyaudsdf dfi8auaj, Viet Nam / Carolien Dolman, Netherlands / Hayaia Monamoer, Bhutan / jans dans, Romania.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <belfius-bankieren.mobi>, <belfius.link>, <belfius-mobile-be.com> and <mybelfius.mobi> are registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 5, 2021. On May 6, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On May 6, 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 Complainants on May 10, 2021, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainants to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainants filed an amended Complaint on May 18, 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 Respondents of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on May 21, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was June 10, 2021. The Respondents did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondents’ default on June 15, 2021.
The Center appointed Adam Taylor as the sole panelist in this matter on June 20, 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 Complainants1 are part of a group companies that comprise a Belgian bank and financial services provider with over 5,000 employees.
The Complainant trades under the name “Belfius”. Its main website is located at “www.belfius.be”.
The Complainant owns many trade marks for BELFIUS including European Union (“EU”) Trade Mark No. 010581205, filed on January 23, 2012, registered on May 24, 2012, in classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 41 and 45.
The Respondents2 registered the disputed domain names on the following dates:
- <belfius-mobile-be.com>: February 2, 2021
- <belfius.link>: March 1, 2021
- <mybelfius.mobi>: March 3, 2021
- <belfius-bankieren.mobi>: March 15, 2021.
As of May 5, 2021, neither <belfius-mobile-be.com> nor <belfius.link> resolved to active webpages. The other two disputed domain names resolved to webpages stating that they had been suspended.
The Complainant sent legal letters to the Respondents on May 4 and 18, 2021, but there was no response.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The following is a summary of the Complainant’s contentions.
The disputed domain names are identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trade mark.
They wholly incorporate the Complainant’s well-known trade mark, supplemented by the addition of various descriptive terms that relate to the activities and location of the Complainant.
The Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names.
The Complainant has never consented to the Respondent’s registration and use of its trade mark in the disputed domain names.
The Respondent possesses no trade mark rights in the name “Belfius” and does not appear to carry out any legitimate activity.
The Respondent is not using any of the disputed domain names for active websites. Nor is there any indication of demonstrable preparations to do so.
The passive holding of the disputed domain names is evidence of the Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests.
The disputed domain names were registered and are being used in bad faith.
The disputed domain names were registered in 2021, long after the Complainant registered its EU trade mark in 2012.
The Respondent knew or should have known of the Complainant’s trade mark.
The Respondent’s likely knowledge is shown by fact that the Complainant has established a substantial presence on the Internet, as well as by the inclusion in the disputed domain names of various terms connected with the Complainant. It is therefore inconceivable that the Respondent registered the disputed domain names without having the Complainant’s trade marks in mind.
The disputed domain names are being passively held in bad faith as it is difficult to imagine any plausible, legitimate uses of the disputed domain names that would not infringe the Complainant’s rights.
The Respondent’s bad faith is also evidenced by the Respondent’s concealment of its identity, by its provision of incomplete, and likely false, contact details, and by its failure to respond to the Complainant’s cease and desist notices.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Under the Policy, the Complainant is required to prove on the balance of probabilities that:
- the disputed domain names are identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark in which the Complainant has rights;
- the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names; and
- the disputed domain names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
The Panel is satisfied that (a) the Complainants, which are part of a group of companies, have a specific common grievance against the Respondent and that the Respondent has engaged in common conduct that has affected the Complainants in similar fashion and (b) it would be equitable and procedurally efficient to permit the consolidation.
The Panel is also satisfied that the disputed domain names are subject to common control, including on the grounds that (1) the contact details overlap; (2) the disputed domain names were registered within approximately six weeks of each other; (3) the disputed domain names were registered with the same Registrar; and (4) no Response has been filed to deny that the disputed domain names are under common control. The Panel considers that, in the circumstances, consolidation is fair and equitable to all parties, and also procedurally efficient.
B. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has established rights in the mark BELFIUS by virtue of its registered trade marks.
Disregarding the Top-Level Domain (“TLD”) “.link.”, the disputed domain name <belfius.link> is identical to the Complainant’s trade mark.
As regards the other three disputed domain names,section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) makes clear that, where the relevant trade mark is recognisable within the disputed domain name, the addition of other terms, whether descriptive, geographical or otherwise, would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity under the first element.
Here, the Complainant’s distinctive trade mark is readily recognisable within the disputed domain names <belfius-bankieren.mobi>, <belfius-mobile-be.com>, <mybelfius.mobi> and, accordingly, the addition of the terms “bankieren” (meaning “banking”), “mobile”, and “my”, and the geographical term “be” (denoting Belgium), does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has established the first element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
C. Rights or Legitimate Interests
As explained in section 2.1 of WIPO Overview 3.0 , the consensus view is that, where a complainant makes out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, the burden of production shifts to the respondent to come forward with relevant evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If not, the complainant is deemed to have satisfied the second element.
Here, the Complainant has not licensed or otherwise authorised the Respondent to use its trade mark.
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy gives examples of circumstances which, if proved, suffice to demonstrate that a respondent possesses rights or legitimate interests.
As to paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy, there is no evidence of any use of the disputed domain names for a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor of any demonstrable preparations for such an offering.
Nor is there any evidence that paragraphs 4(c)(ii) or (iii) of the Policy apply in the circumstances of this case.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has established a prima facie case of lack of rights or legitimate interests and there is no rebuttal by the Respondent.
The Panel concludes that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names and that the Complainant has therefore established the second element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel has not been presented with any evidence indicating that the disputed domain names have been actively used. In the Panel’s view, therefore, it is appropriate to consider this case in the context of the principles of “passive holding”.
Section 3.3 of WIPO Overview 3.0 explains that, from the inception of the UDRP, panels have found that the non-use of a domain name would not prevent a finding of bad faith under the doctrine of passive holding.
In this case, the Panel concludes that the following cumulative circumstances are indicative of passive holding in bad faith: (i) the highly distinctive nature of the Complainant’s mark, (ii) the failure of the Respondent to submit a response or to provide any evidence of actual or contemplated good-faith use, (iii) the Respondent’s likely use of false contact details, and (iv) the implausibility of any good faith use to which the disputed domain names may be put.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has established the third element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
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, <belfius-bankieren.mobi>, <belfius.link>, <belfius-mobile-be.com>, <mybelfius.mobi> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: July 5, 2021
1 The Complainants are collectively described hereafter as “the Complainant” unless it is necessary to refer to them separately.
2 The Panel has concluded in section 6A below that the Respondents are under common control. Accordingly, the Respondents are collectively described hereafter as “the Respondent” unless it is necessary to refer to them separately.