Complainant is Crédit Industriel et Commercial of Paris, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.
Respondent is Manager Builder, Builder Manager of Cotonou, Benin.
The disputed domain name <cic-banks.net> is registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the “Registrar”).
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 2, 2018. On October 2, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 3, 2018, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details and contact information for the registrant of the disputed domain name.
The Center verified that 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on October 5, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 25, 2018. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on October 26, 2018.
The Center appointed Stephanie G. Hartung as the sole panelist in this matter on October 31, 2018. 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.
Complainant is a company organized under the laws of France that is offering banking services.
Complainant has provided evidence that it is the registered owner of numerous trademarks relating to the designations CIC as well as CIC BANQUES including, inter alia:
- Word mark CIC, European Union Intellectual Property Office (“EUIPO”), Registration No. 005891411, Registration Date: March 5, 2008, Status: Active;
- Word-/design mark CIC, EUIPO, Registration No. 11355328, Registration Date: March 26, 2013, Status: Active;
- Word-/design mark CIC BANQUES, World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) Registration No. 585098, Registration Date: April 10, 1992, Status: Active.
Furthermore, Complainant has evidenced to own the domain name <cic.fr> redirecting to Complainant’s main website at “www.cic.fr” which promotes Complainant’s banking services including online banking.
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on November 13, 2017. While as of the time of the rendering of this decision, the disputed domain name resolves to a suspended website whose content may not be displayed, Complainant has provided evidence that at some point before the filing of this Complaint, the disputed domain name redirected to a website at “www.cic-banks.net” which purported to be the website of a so-called financial company “CIC Banks” supposedly located in Nancy, France, that was neither registered in the French Trade and Companies Register nor listed in the Directory of Insurance and Financing Intermediaries in accordance with a European Union Directive dating from 2002. Also, Complainant has shown that Respondent activated the email service relating to the disputed domain name, allowing Respondent to send and receive emails, e.g., under the email address “[...]@cic-banks.net” used as a contact email address on the aforementioned website.
Complainant requests that the disputed domain name be transferred to Complainant.
Complainant contends to be the oldest deposit bank in France, set up in 1859 with currently more than 4.7 million clients and more than 2,000 agencies throughout France and worldwide.
Complainant submits that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s CIC and CIC BANQUES trademarks as it incorporates the CIC trademark in its entirety with the associated term “banks” referring to Complainant’s main activity of offering bank services. Moreover, Complainant asserts that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name since (1) Respondent is not related in any way to Complainant’s business and no license or authorization has been granted to Respondent to make any use of Complainant’s CIC trademark or to apply for registration of the disputed domain name, (2) Respondent is not claiming to have used the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, and (3) Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name and apparently does not own any trademark rights that incorporate or are similar to Complainant’s CIC and CIC BANQUES trademarks. Finally, Complainant argues that Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith since (1) Complainant’s CIC and CIC BANQUES trademarks enjoy a strong reputation and are well known in relation to banking and financial services and it is unlikely that Respondent has chosen the disputed domain name unless seeking to create an impression of association with Complainant’s trademarks’ fame and reputation, (2) Respondent obviously is using fanciful WhoIs details in order to keep its real identity private, and (3) the website to which the disputed domain name pointed is an illegal website of a so-called financial company “CIC Banks” and Respondent could collect personal data thereunder, e.g., by using the email address “[...]@cic-banks.net” as displayed as a contact address on the infringing website to support some kind of phishing activities as Complainant is facing them continually.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, Complainant carries the burden of proving:
(i) That the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(ii) That Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) That the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Respondent’s default in the case at hand does not automatically result in a decision in favor of Complainant, however, paragraph 5(f) of the Rules provides that if Respondent does not submit a response, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, the Panel shall decide the dispute solely based upon the Complaint. Further, the Panel may draw such inferences as are appropriate from Respondent’s failure to submit a Response.
The Panel concludes that the disputed domain name <cic-banks.net> is confusingly similar to the CIC and CIC BANQUES trademarks in which Complainant has rights.
The disputed domain name incorporates the CIC trademark in its entirety. Numerous UDRP panels have recognized that incorporating a trademark in its entirety can be sufficient to establish that the disputed domain name is at least confusingly similar to a registered trademark (see e.g.PepsiCo, Inc. v. PEPSI, SRL (a/k/a P.E.P.S.I.) and EMS Computer Industry (a/k/a EMS), WIPO Case No. D2003-0696). Moreover, it has been held in many UDRP decisions and has become a consensus view among panelists (see WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.8), that where the relevant trademark is recognizable within the disputed domain name, the addition of other terms would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity under the first element of the UDRP. Accordingly, the addition of the term “banks”, which even is the English translation of the French term “banques” as it is reflected in Complainant’s CIC BANQUES trademark, does not avoid the confusing similarity arising from the incorporation of Complainant’s CIC trademark in the disputed domain name.
Therefore, Complainant has established the first element under the Policy set forth by paragraph 4(a)(i).
The Panel is further convinced on the basis of Complainant’s undisputed contentions that Respondent has not made use of the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor has Respondent been commonly known by the disputed domain name, nor can it be found that Respondent has made a legitimate noncommercial or fair use thereof without intent for commercial gain.
Respondent has not been authorized to use Complainant’s CIC and CIC BANQUES trademarks, either as domain name or in any other way. Also, there is no reason to believe that Respondent’s name somehow corresponds with the disputed domain name and Respondent does not appear to have any trademark rights associated with the term “CIC”. Finally, Respondent has not used the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services nor for a legitimate noncommercial or fair purpose. On the contrary, Complainant has shown that at some point before the filing of this Complaint the disputed domain name redirected to a website pretending to have been set up by a financial company “CIC Banks” which yet does not exist, still allowing Respondent to collect personal data and to communicate with Internet users in a manner that is highly likely to confuse them into believing that this was an official website of Complainant.
Accordingly, Complainant has established a prima facie case that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. Having done so, the burden of production shifts to Respondent to come forward with appropriate evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests (see WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.1). Given that Respondent has defaulted, it has not met that burden.
Therefore, the Panel finds that Complainant has also satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) and, thus, the second element of the Policy.
The Panel finally holds that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used by Respondent in bad faith.
Redirecting the disputed domain name, which is confusingly similar to Complainant’s CIC and CIC BANQUES trademarks, to a website that pretends to have been set up by a financial company “CIC Banks” which yet does not exist, is a clear indication that Respondent intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its own website by creating a likelihood of confusing with Complainant’s CIC and CIC BANQUES trademarks as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of Respondent’s website. Such circumstances are evidence of registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
In connection with this finding, it also carries weight in the eyes of the Panel that Respondent obviously provided false WhoIs contact information since the Written Notice sent to Respondent via courier on October 5, 2018 could not be delivered. This fact at least throws a light on Respondent’s behavior which supports the conclusion of bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name.
Therefore, the Panel finds that Complainant has also satisfied the third element under the Policy as set forth by paragraph 4(a)(iii).
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 <cic-banks.net> be transferred to Complainant.
Stephanie G. Hartung
Date: November 6, 2018
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