WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel v. Domain Administrator, See PrivacyGuardian.org / Jerome Maik

Case No. D2021-4152

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.

The Respondent is Domain Administrator, See PrivacyGuardian.org, United States of America (“United States”) / Jerome Maik, France.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <creditmutuellesfr.com> is registered with NameSilo, LLC (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 10, 2021. On December 10, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On December 14, 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 December 14, 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 amendment to the Complaint on December 14, 2021.

The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to 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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on December 20, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was January 9, 2022. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 11, 2022.

The Center appointed Elise Dufour as the sole panelist in this matter on January 19, 2022. 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, Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, is the political and central body for the banking group CREDIT MUTUEL, which is the second French banking and insurance services group, proving its services to 12 million clients for more than a century. It operates a number of web portals including a web portal at “www.creditmutuel.com” and “www.creditmutuel.fr” that offers online banking services.

The Complainant owns several trademark registrations including the following trademarks:

- CREDIT MUTUEL, European Union figurative trademark No. 16130403 with a registration date of June 1, 2017 in Classes 7, 9, 16, 36, 38, 41 and 45;
- CREDIT MUTUEL, French combined trademark No. 1646012 with a registration date of November 20, 1990, duly renewed, in Classes 16, 35, 36, 38 and 41;
- CREDIT MUTUEL, French nominal trademark No. 1475940 with a registration date of July 8, 1988, duly renewed, in Classes 35 and 36.

The Complainant is also the holder of many domain names incorporating the trademark CREDIT MUTUEL such as <creditmutuel.com>, registered on October 28, 1995.

The Complainant claims that the trademark CREDIT MUTUEL has been recognized as well-known by previous UDRP decisions.

The disputed domain name <creditmutuellesfr.com> was registered on December 1, 2021.

According to evidence submitted by the Complainant, the disputed domain name is used to direct towards a website copying the Complainant’s former official website.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends that (i) the disputed domain name is highly confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks; (ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name; and (iii) the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.

(i) For the Complainant, the trademark CREDIT MUTUEL is identical or at least confusingly similar to the disputed domain name. The trademark CREDIT MUTUEL is entirely reproduced in the disputed domain name “creditmutuellesfr”, the only differences being the addition of the letters “les” and of the suffix “fr”. The mere addition of a generic Top-Level domain name (“gTLD”) “.com” is not sufficient to distinguish the Complainant’s trademark from the disputed domain name.

(ii) The Respondent is an individual using the Complainant’s trademark CREDIT MUTUEL without license or authorization and not having any business relations with the Complainant. The Respondent is not commonly known under “creditmutuel”. Further, the website under the disputed domain name is an exact copy of the Complainants’ former official websites. For the Complainant, such fraudulent use cannot amount to any right or legitimate interest to the Respondent.

(iii) Due to the strong reputation and well-known character of the trademark CREDIT MUTUEL, the Complainant considers that the Respondent could not have ignored the existence of the Complainant’s trademark at the time the disputed domain name was registered. The Complainant also claims that the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name constitutes bad faith use. The disputed domain name resolves to an active website that is the exact copy of Complainant’s former version of its website “www.creditmutuel.fr”. For the Complainant, such use of the disputed domain name is clearly intended to create confusion with the Complainant and to take advantage of the confusion for illegitimate purposes, probably like scam, phishing or personal data theft, amounting for the Complainant to bad faith use.

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 the absence of a formal Response, the discussion and findings will be based upon the contentions in the Complaint and any reasonable position that can be attributable to the Respondent.

According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, for this Complaint to succeed in relation to the disputed domain name, the Complainant must prove each of the following, namely 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 was registered and is being used in bad faith.

The Panel will further analyze the potential concurrence of the above circumstances.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The disputed domain name wholly incorporates the Complainant’s trademarks CREDIT MUTUEL, which, as long established by previous UDRP panels, may be sufficient to determine that a disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks.

In addition, the disputed domain name only differs from the Complainant’s trademark CREDIT MUTUEL through the addition of a letter the letters “les” and of the suffix “fr”, which is the ISO alpha-2 country code for France. The Panel finds that the Complainant’s trademark is clearly recognizable and entirely contained in the disputed domain name. (See section 1.7 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).

Finally, the applicable TLD “.com” in the disputed domain name is considered a standard technical registration requirement and, as such, is generally disregarded under the first element confusing similarity test (See section 1.11, WIPO Overview 3.0).

Thus, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks.

The Panel finds that the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy is met.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The burden of proof is on the Complainant to demonstrate a prima facie case that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Once the Complainant has made out a prima facie case, the burden of production then shifts to the Respondent, which has to then demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

On the basis of the submitted evidence, the Panel considers that the Complainant has successfully established a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name: The Respondent is not commonly known under the disputed domain name, nor owns any registered rights on the disputed domain name or has been authorized by the Complainant to use the prior trademarks in any way.

The Panel does not find any indications that the Respondent is making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the disputed domain name or has rights or legitimate interests in any other way in the disputed domain name. On the contrary, the disputed domain name directs to a website which is an exact copy of Complainants’ previous official websites, which is clear evidence of fraudulent intent and cannot amount to a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.

Therefore, the Panel finds that the Complainant has made a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

Given these circumstances the Panel finds that the second element of the Policy has been satisfied.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

In regards to the registration of the disputed domain name, which encompasses the trademark CREDIT MUTUEL with a common spelling mistake, the Panel considers it unlikely that, at the time of the registration of the disputed domain name, the Respondent did not know about the CREDIT MUTUEL trademark.

Indeed, given the fact that the Complainant’s trademarks are well-known in the banking services, the Respondent cannot credibly claim to have been unaware of the existence of the previous trademarks (see section 3.2.2 of the WIPO Overview 3.0) and previous UDRP panels have consistently found that the mere registration of a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to a famous or widely known trademark by an unaffiliated entity can by itself create a presumption of bad faith (see section 3.1.4 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).

As for use of the disputed domain name in bad faith, given the circumstances described in the Complaint, the documentary evidence provided by the Complainant, and the brief verification carried out by the Panel of the website associated with the disputed domain name, the Panel is satisfied that the disputed domain name is used in bad faith.

Indeed, the Complainant provided evidence that the website to which the disputed domain name resolves to a website identical to the former Complainant’s website, reproducing on each pages its trademark in order to confuse Internet users and get from them some information e.g. personal or financial or connection data, or money.

Taking into account all of the above, it is not possible to conceive of any plausible actual or contemplated active use of the disputed domain name by the Respondent that would not be illegitimate.

Therefore, the Panel finds that the requirement of registration and use in bad faith is satisfied, according to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii).

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 <creditmutuellesfr.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Elise Dufour
Sole Panelist
Date: February 2, 2022