WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
NATIXIS v. Sitadelle Hebergement
Case No. D2021-2471
1. The Parties
The Complainant is NATIXIS, France, represented by Inlex IP Expertise, France.
The Respondent is Sitadelle Hebergement, Nigeria.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <natixisaina.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with Hosting Concepts B.V. d/b/a Openprovider (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 30, 2021. On July 30, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On August 2, 2021, 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 August 9, 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 August 11, 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 August 16, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was September 5, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on September 6, 2021.
The Center appointed Ian Lowe as the sole panelist in this matter on September 13, 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 a French investment management and financial services company based in Paris, France, founded in 2006. It is part of the BPCE Group and has more than 17,000 employees in 38 countries. It is a leading provider of syndicated real-estate finance loans in the EMEA region (Europe, the Middle East and Asia).
The Complainant is the proprietor of numerous registered trademarks comprising NATAXIS, including France trademark number 3416315 NATAXIS registered on March 14, 2006; European Union trademark number 5129176 NATAXIS registered on June 21, 2007; and, International Trademark number 1071008 NATAXIS and device registered on April 21, 2010.
The Complainant operates a website at “www.natixis.com”, having registered the domain name <natixis.com> on February 3, 2005.
The Domain Name was registered on July 23, 2021. It does not presently resolve to an active website, but at the time of preparation of the Complaint resolved to a website whose webpage headings included the Complainant’s logo alongside “natixisaina”. The website purported to offer a range of financial products including real estate, automobile and investment loans. The “About Us” page stated that “LandHolaina [sic] is a leading player in the granting of credit to individuals as well as to professionals”.
The Complainant produced copies of screenshots from the website at “www.landholaina.com” and pointed out that the natixisaina website was a substantial copy, including a page headed “What Can We Do For You” that included dummy Latin text. The landholaina website is still active. Its “Contact Us” page gives an address in Melbourne, Australia but a search by the Panel using Google Maps suggests that the address does not exist. The page also includes an embedded Google map with a pin highlighting, without explanation, the Complainant’s address in Paris, France.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to its NATIXIS trademark, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name, and that the Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
For this Complaint to succeed in relation to the Domain Name the Complainant must prove that:
(i) the 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 Domain Name; and
(iii) the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has rights in its NATIXIS trademark, both by virtue of its many trademark registrations and as a result of its widespread use of the trademark for a number of years. Ignoring the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com”, the Domain Name comprises the entirety of the Complainant’s NATIXIS trademark together with the letters “aina”. The Panel notes that the letters “aina” also appear in the domain name and heading of the website at “www.landholaina.com” of which the website to which the Domain Name previously resolved was a copy. Nevertheless, the Panel’s view, the addition of these letters, not apparently amounting to a meaningful word, does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the Domain Name and the Complainant’s mark1. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has made out a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. The Domain Name has been used for a website purporting to offer financial products similar to those provided by the Complainant, using also the Complainant’s logo. The website was in turn a copy of another website that includes false contact information and a Google Map highlighting the Complainant’s address in Paris, France. The Complainant has not authorized the Respondent’s use of the Domain Name and the nature of the Domain Name is such as to carry a risk of implied affiliation that cannot constitute fair use.
The Respondent has chosen not to respond to the Complaint, to explain its registration or use of the Domain Name, or to take any other steps to counter the prima facie case established by the Complainant. In the circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Domain Name includes the entirety of the Complainant’s NATIXIS trademark, that the Panel considers so distinctive as could be taken only to refer to the Complainant. Given also the Respondent’s use of the Complainant’s logo, the Panel is satisfied that the Respondent had in mind the Complainant and its rights in the NATIXIS trademark when registering the Domain Name, and that it did so with the intention of using the Domain Name to deceive Internet users into believing that it was registered by or associated with the Complainant, no doubt for commercial gain.
The Panel cannot conceive of a legitimate use to which the Domain Name could be put. The association between the Respondent’s website and the website at “www.landholaina.com” that includes false contact information and a map featuring the Complainant’s address in Paris, France, further supports a finding of bad faith registration and use for the purposes of the Policy.
In the circumstances, the Panel finds that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
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 <natixisaina.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: September 22, 2021
1 The Panel notes that the Complaint argues that the letters “aina” refer to the website to which the Domain Name resolves, namely “LandHolaina”. Even if so, the inclusion of these letters does not prevent the Complainant’s trademark from being recognizable within the Domain Name.