(WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center Natixis Intertitres v. Super Privacy Service LTD c/o Dynadot / Fredrik Lindgrent Case No. D2020-1383)
Being the owner of a trademark that is identical to the disputed domain name is a real advantage in the UDRP procedure. Nevertheless, it is necessary to prove that the respondent was aware of said trademark rights, which is quite complicated when the trademark at issue hasn’t been widely advertised.
Natixis Intertitres, the subsidiary of Natixis, a French internationally known corporate company, holds the registered trademark “INTERTITRES”. This subsidiary filed a complaint before the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center in order to obtain the transfer of the disputed domain name <intretitres.fr> registered by a third party without authorization.
During the procedure, the identity of the registrant was disclosed, revealing a Swedish owner.
The Complainant sustained that the domain name was registered in reference to its trademark without any relation to the generic definition of the term “intertitres” especially considering that, in the French language, as in the French dictionary, the term is generally used in the singular form.
Moreover, the complainant finds the configuration of mail servers on a domain name that doesn’t refer to any website “suspicious”. Natixis Intertitres sustained that the Respondent’s intention was to take undue advantage of the Complainant and its trademark’s reputation.
The Respondent didn’t submit a formal response to the complaint but stated that he had reserved the domain name in order to create a site related to literature.
The expert in charge of this dispute acknowledges the likelihood of confusion between the trademark and the subsequent domain name, as well as the lack of proof of legitimate interest by the Respondent, who didn’t really explain the choice of this domain name.
However, the expert is not convinced by the Complainant’s arguments as regards the bad faith criterion. In this respect, he highlights two important points.
Firstly, there is no evidence that the Swedish-based registrant was aware of the trademark “INTERTITRES”. Natixis is certainly internationally known as a company, but this is not the case for its “INTERTITRES” trademark, which designates lunch vouchers mainly available in France. These vouchers are rather known under the names of “CHEQUE DE TABLE” or “APETIZ”. Therefore, it is unlikely that the Respondent was aware of this trademark.
Secondly, “INTERTITRES” is mainly a generic term. The fact that dictionary definitions are given in the singular form does not mean that the term does not exist in its plural form.
The complaint is therefore rejected.
In view of the above, it is essential for right holders to be aware of the scope of protection that their trademark can enjoy. Is the trademark sufficiently well known in the registrant’s country so that it is reasonable to assume that they had it in mind when they reserved the name? This question must be carefully considered, especially when the trademark has also an everyday language meaning and the disputed domain name is not used for an activity similar to the one for which the prior trademark is used. In this regard, the expert rightly pointed out that using a domain name primarily for having a letterbox is not prohibited (referring to the presence of e-mail servers on the disputed domain name).
Dreyfus can assist you in the management of your trademarks portfolios in all countries of the world and in their enforcement. Do not hesitate to contact us.