WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Natixis v. Name Redacted
Case No. DCO2019-0020
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Natixis, France, represented by Inlex IP Expertise, France.
The Respondent is Name Redacted.1
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <natixls.co> is registered with Cronon AG Berlin, Niederlassung Regensburg (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed in English with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 6, 2019. On the same day, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On June 26, 2019, 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 and stating that the language of the registration agreement is German. The Registrar informed the Center that the disputed domain name may be available for registration. However, on August 21, 2019, the Complainant informed the Center that it had been informed by the Registrar that the disputed domain name was not available for registration.
The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on September 12, 2019, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. On the same date, the Center sent an email to the Parties in English and German regarding the language of the proceedings. On September 13, 2019, the Complainant requested English to be the language of the proceedings. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on September 17, 2019.
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 18, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 8, 2019. The Center received on September 19 and 26, 2019, email communications from a person named as the Respondent (but using an email address different to the email address of the registrant of the disputed domain name) claiming identity theft. The Respondent did not submit any formal response. Accordingly, on October 9, 2019, the Center sent a notification that it would proceed with the panel appointment.
The Center appointed Andrea Mondini as the sole panelist in this matter on October 15, 2019. 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, a French company with more than 17,000 employees in 38 countries, is the corporate, investment, and financial arm of the BPCE Group, one of the largest French banking groups.
The Complainant is the owner of several trademark registrations for the word mark NATIXIS, including the French Trademark registration No. 3416315 filed on March 14, 2006 and the European Trademark Registration No. 5129176 filed on June 12, 2006. The Complainant also uses the domain names <natixis.com> and <natixis.fr>, which direct to its official website.
The disputed domain name was reserved for registration on February 4, 2019.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends in essence:
- that the NATIXIS trademarks are well-known in France and in several other countries;
- that the disputed domain name <natixls.co> is confusingly similar to its trademark NATIXIS because they both consist of seven letters, out of which six are identical. The replacement of the letter “i” by “l” does not avoid a visual similarity and thus a likelihood of confusion, but rather constitutes typosquatting, particularly considering that neither NATIXIS nor “natixls” have a dictionary meaning;
- that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, because (i) the Complainant has neither authorized nor licensed the Respondent to use its trademarks in any way and (ii) the Respondent is not using the disputed domain, which points to an error page;
- that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith, considering that the NATIXIS trademark is well-known, so that the registration of the very similar disputed domain name cannot be a coincidence;
- that the disputed domain name is being used in bad faith, because the passive holding of domain names and also the reservation of domain names including well-known trademarks constitute use in bad faith.
The Respondent has not submitted a response.
However, on September 19 and 26, 2019, the person named as the registrant of the disputed domain name wrote to the Center that he did not register the disputed domain name but that someone else hacked his account and committed identity theft by registering the disputed domain name (as well as other domain names) in his name.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, in order to succeed, a complainant must establish each of the following elements:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(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.
6.1. Language of the Proceeding
In the present case, German is the language of the registration agreement. Pursuant to paragraph 11 of the Rules, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the default language of the proceeding is the language of the registration agreement, subject to the authority of the panel to determine otherwise.
Paragraph 10 of the Rules vests a panel with authority to conduct the proceedings in a manner it considers appropriate while also ensuring both that the parties are treated with equality, and that each party is given a fair opportunity to present its case.
The Complainant filed the Complaint in English and, on September 13, 2019, it submitted a request for English to be the language of the proceeding. The Respondent did not submit any request regarding the language of the proceeding.
Considering (i) that the Respondent did not submit a response or any request regarding the language of the proceeding, and (ii) that the person named as the registrant of the disputed domain name is not the real Respondent; and (iii) that “.co” is the ccTLD for Columbia where German is not the official language, the Panel determines that the language of the proceeding is English.
6.2 Substantive Issues
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has shown that it holds several registrations for the trademark NATIXIS.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark NATIXIS. The replacement of the letter “i” by “l” does not avoid a confusing visual similarity, but rather constitutes typosquatting, particularly considering that neither NATIXIS nor “natixls” have a dictionary meaning. The Panel refers in this respect to the comparable previous case Natixis v. Montez T, Cybortech, WIPO Case No. D2019-0409 (<natlxis.com>).
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirement under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant contends, credibly, that it has not authorized the Respondent to use the disputed domain name, and that there is no relationship whatsoever between the Parties. Moreover, the Respondent misused the identity of a third party when registering the disputed domain name.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirement under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant has credibly shown that its trademark NATIXIS is well-known in France and in several other countries, so that it seems unlikely that the Respondent was not aware of the Respondent’s activities and of the existence of its trademarks when it registered the typosquatting version of the Complainant’s trademark as the disputed domain name (see also Natixis v. Montez T, Cybortech, WIPO Case No. D2019-0409).
Moreover, the Respondent misused the identity of a third party when registering the disputed domain name and passively held the disputed domain name.
Under these circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirement under paragraph 4(a)(iii) 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 name, <natixls.co> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: October 17, 2019
1 The Respondent appears to have used the name and contact details of a third party when Registering the disputed domain name. In light of the potential identity theft, the Panel has redacted the Respondent’s name from this Decision. However, the Panel has attached as Annex 1 to this Decision an instruction to the Registrar regarding transfer of the disputed domain name, which includes the name of the Respondent. The Panel has authorized the Center to transmit Annex 1 to the Registrar as part of the order in this proceeding, and has indicated Annex 1 to this Decision shall not be published due to the exceptional circumstances of this case. See: ASOS plc. v. Name Redacted, WIPO Case No. D2017-1520; Banco Bradesco S.A. v. FAST-12785241 Attn. Bradescourgente.net / Name Redacted, WIPO Case No. D2009-1788.