WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Natixis v. Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0162458866 / Christine Lightning, natixls

Case No. D2021-3058

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Natixis, France, represented by Inlex IP Expertise, France.

The Respondent is Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0162458866, Canada / Christine Lightning, natixls, United States of America (“United States”).

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <natixls.com> is registered with Tucows Inc. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 16, 2021. On September 17, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 20, 2021, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on September 21, 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 September 23, 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 September 28, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 18, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 19, 2021.

The Center appointed Steven A. Maier as the sole panelist in this matter on October 27, 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 company registered in France, providing corporate and financial services under the name and trademark NATIXIS.

The Complainant is the owner of several registrations for the trademark NATIXIS, including for example the following:

- France trademark number 3416315 for the word mark NATIXIS, registered with an application date of March 14, 2006;

- European Union Trade Mark number 5129176 for the word mark NATIXIS, registered on June 21, 2007; and

- International trademark number 1071008 for word and device mark NATIXIS, registered on April 21, 2010 and including the designation of the United States under the Madrid Protocol.

The Complainant operates a website at “www.natixis.com”, having registered the domain name <natixis.com> in February 2005.

The disputed domain name <natixls.com> was registered on August 30, 2021.

The disputed domain name does not appear to have resolved to any active website.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant submits that its trademark NATIXIS is widely known in France and other countries. It states that it employs over 17,000 individuals in 38 countries and is the corporate, financial and investment arm of BPCE, once of France’s largest banking institutions. The Complainant provides evidence of industry recognition in fields including real estate loan finance, equity research and employee savings schemes.

The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its trademark NATIXIS, being identical to that trademark but for the substitution of the final letter “i” with an “l”, which it contends is visually similar. The Complainant also observes that any Google search for the term “natixls” produces results relating to the Complainant.

The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. It states that it has never licensed or authorized the Respondent to use its NATIXIS trademark, that the Respondent has not been known by that name and that, since it is not using the disputed domain name at all, the Respondent is making neither bona fide commercial use nor legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.

The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. It contends that, because of the renown of its NATIXIS trademark, it is unlikely that the Respondent was unaware of that trademark when it registered the disputed domain name. It further submits that, while the disputed domain name is not currently used, it is difficult to conceive of any use that could be made of it that would not be intended to “free ride” on the Complainant’s goodwill associated with its trademark. In particular, any such use would misleadingly representing to Internet users that the Respondent was in some way sponsored by or affiliated with, or approved on endorsed by, the Complainant.

The Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain name.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

In order to succeed in the Complaint, the Complainant is required to show that all three of the elements set out under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are present. Those elements are that:

(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.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant has demonstrated that it is the owner of registered trademark rights for the name and mark NATIXIS. The disputed domain name is virtually identical to that trademark, differing from it only by the substitution of the final letter “i” with an “l” which, particularly when rendered in lower case, is visually highly similar. The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

In the view of the Panel, the Complainant’s submissions set out above give rise to a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. However, the Respondent has not filed a Response in this proceeding and has not submitted any explanation for its registration and use of the disputed domain name, or evidence of rights or legitimate interests on its part in the disputed domain name, whether in the circumstances contemplated by paragraph 4(c) of the Policy or otherwise. There being no other evidence before the Panel of any such rights or legitimate interests, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant has demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Panel that its NATIXIS trademark is widely known in the financial services sector. Furthermore, the Panel finds the mark NATIXIS to be distinctive and notes (from its own Google search) that a search against the term “nataxls” produces only results relating to the Complainant within the first several pages of results. In the absence of any explanation from the Respondent for its choice of the disputed domain name, the Panel therefore infers that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in the knowledge of the Complainant’s NATIXIS trademark and with the intention of registering a domain name that was almost identical to that trademark.

Again in the absence of any explanation from the Respondent or contradiction of the Complainant’s claims, the Panel accepts the Complainant’s submission that it is unlikely that any active use could be made of the disputed domain name that did not cause confusion with the Complainant’s trademark and mislead Internet users into believing that the disputed domain name was in some way affiliated with the Complainant. The Panel infers in these circumstances that the Respondent has maintained the disputed domain name for the purpose of taking unfair advantage of the Complainant’s goodwill in its NATIXIS trademark by creating a likelihood of confusion with that trademark for the purpose of future commercial gain. The Panel further finds that the Respondent’s passive holding of the disputed domain name does not in these circumstances preclude a finding of bad faith (see e.g. Telstra Corp, Inc. v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003).

The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

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 name, <natixls.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Steven A. Maier
Sole Panelist
Date: November 1, 2021