WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel v. Ou Compernik and Gunther Veidenberg
Case No. D2006-1656
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, Paris, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.
The Respondents are Ou Compernik and Gunther Veidenberg, Viljandi, Estonia.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <creitmutuel.com> is registered with CSL Computer Service Langenbach GmbH dba Joker.com.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 29, 2006. On December 29, 2006, the Center transmitted by email to CSL Computer Service Langenbach GmbH dba Joker.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On January 2, 2007, CSL Computer Service Langenbach GmbH dba Joker.com transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondents are listed as the registrants and providing the contact details for the administrative, billing, and technical contact. The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”), 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(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondents of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on January 9, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was January 29, 2007. The Respondents did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondents’ default on January 30, 2007.
The Center appointed Theda König Horowicz as the sole panelist in this matter on February 6, 2007. 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 belongs to the CREDIT MUTUEL Group which is active in the field of finance and banking. The CREDIT MUTUEL Group consists of a network of 3.100 offices in France managed through 18 regional banks and is ranked as the number two for online banking services. The Complainant is active as well in countries other than France.
The Complainant is the owner of several trademark registrations consisting of or including its name CREDIT MUTUEL in France and abroad including:
CREDIT MUTUEL, French figurative trademark No. 1475940 of July 8, 1988, in international classes 35 and 36;
CREDIT MUTUEL, French figurative trademark No. 1646012 of November 20, 1990, in international classes 16, 35, 36, 38 and 41;
CREDIT MUTUEL, International trademark No. 570,182 of May17, 1991, in international classes 16, 35, 36, 38 and 41, which covers Benelux, Italy and Portugal.
The Complainant is also the owner of several domain names comprising its name CREDIT MUTUEL, such as <creditmutuel.com> (since 1997), <credit-mutuel.com> and <credit-mutuel.eu>. The Complainant’s main website is at “www.creditmutuel.com”.
The Respondents registered the domain name <creitmutuel.com> on January 15, 2006. The domain name at issue is linked to webpages having the following headings: “Sponsored Results for Banking, Credit, Credit Card, Investing”. These webpages contain commercial links to third-party websites in the field of banking and financial services.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Identical or Confusingly similar
The Complainant claims trademark rights over CREDIT MUTUEL which have been continuously used in commerce since their registration.
The Complainant contends that the domain name <creitmutuel.com> is confusingly similar to its trademark “CREDIT MUTUEL even if the domain name in dispute differs from the trademark by the omission in the term “credit” of the letter “d”, and even if there is no space between the words “creit” and “mutuel”.
The Complainant also alleges that this misspelling and absence of space does not avoid the risk of confusion as there is a close similarity both orally and visually with the Complainant’s trademark.
The Complainant contends that the domain name at issue is virtually identical to <creditmutuel.com> which is the Complainant’s main web portal.
The Complainant asserts that the risk of confusion is all the more important as the domain name at issue is pointing to a webpage on which several commercial links are displayed consisting of results in the field of banking and financial services.
Rights or legitimate interests
The Complainant alleges that it is not related in any way whatsoever to the Respondents. The Respondents are “domainers” (domain name warehouser and merchants) and the Complainant has not authorized them to register and use the domain name in dispute.
The Complainant claims that the Respondents registered the domain name at issue to take advantage of the fame of the CREDIT MUTUEL mark and divert Internet users to competitors websites through a pay per click domain parking solution. Such use is not a bona fide offering of goods or services according to the Policy.
The Complainant contends that the Respondents therefore have no legitimate rights in the domain name in dispute.
Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant asserts that is difficult to conceive that the Respondents could have been unaware of the trademark CREDIT MUTUEL at the time they applied for the registration of the confusingly similar domain name <creitmutuel.com>.
The Complainant contends that the knowledge by the Respondents of the Complainants trademark is evidenced by the links set out on the webpage connected to the domain name in dispute, links which are exclusively relating to credit banking products or services.
The Complainant alleges that these commercial links generate revenue to the benefit of the Respondents which shows that the Respondents are using the domain name at issue in order to realize material benefit by diluting the fame and renown of the Complainant’s trademark.
The Complainant claims that the registration of the domain name at issue is an example of typosquatting.
The Complainant contends that the use by the Respondents of the domain name in dispute has to be considered as unfair competition.
The Complainant concludes that the Respondents are not making good faith use of the domain name.
The Respondents did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs the Complainant to prove each of the following:
(i) that the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel accepts that the Complainant has established rights in the mark CREDIT MUTUEL deriving from its trademark registrations and extensive use of that name for many years.
The domain name <creitmutuel.com> is almost identical to the Complainant’s trademarks, the only difference being the omission of one letter “d” in the term “credit”.
The Panel concludes that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to trademarks in which the Complainant has rights. The first condition of Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is established.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondents have pointed the domain name to a webpage offering sponsored links to commercial websites of third party companies in the field of banking and credit services which is the Complainant’s field of business.
Use of the domain name in connection with such sponsored links is not a bona fide offering of goods or services giving rise to a right or legitimate interests in the domain name. Previous panels have found that the operation of sponsored link services of this type designed to divert Internet users to other commercial sites by the use of domain names identical or similar to a complainant’s trademark, do not confer a legitimate right to or interest in a domain name (see for example MBI, Inc. v. Moniker Privacy Services/Nevis Domains LLC, WIPO Case No. D2006-0550; Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu v. Henry Chan,WIPO Case No. D2003-0584; Minka Lightinh, Inc. d/b/a v. Lee Wongi,WIPO Case No. D2004-0984; Bridgestone Corporation v. Horoshiy, Inc.,WIPO Case No. D2004-0795.
In addition, the Respondents have not disputed the facts as presented by the Complainant and there is no evidence before the Panel to suggest that the Respondents either are commonly known by the domain name or are making a legitimate or non commercial use of the domain name.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondents have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the contested domain name.. The second condition of Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is therefore fulfilled.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The record shows that the Complainant is active worldwide in the field of banking and has an extensive presence on the Internet notably through its official website “www.creditmutuel.com”.
In addition, the domain name in dispute is almost identical to the Complainant’s trademark and differs very little from the Complainant’s main domain name <creditmutuel.com>.
It is therefore very unlikely that the Respondents could have been unaware of the trademark CREDIT MUTUEL and the Complainant’s website “www.creditmutuel.com” when they registered the domain name at issue.
In addition, the evidence indicates that the Respondents use the domain name at issue to advertise sponsored links relating to banking, credit and credit cards, which are of the Complainant’s business. The Respondents have not disputed the Complainant’s contention that such use is generating revenue for the benefit of the Respondents.
The Panel is therefore of the view that the Respondents have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the website linked to the domain name at issue, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondents’ website (Paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy).
Considering the above, the Panel concludes that the Respondents registered and are using the domain name at issue in bad faith. The third condition of Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is thus established.
For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the domain name <creitmutuel.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Theda König Horowicz
Dated: February 20, 2007
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