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The Battle over France.com Domain

     
11:34 am on Apr 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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France.com has been owned by Jean-Nol Frydman since the mid-ninties, and it seems the domain has been handed over to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs with little notification.
By September 2017, the Paris Court of Appeals ruled that France.com was violating French trademark law. Armed with this ruling, lawyers representing the French state wrote to Web.com demanding that the domain be handed over.

"I'm probably [one of Web.com's] oldest customers," Frydman told Ars. "I've been with them for 24 years... There's never been any cases against France.com, and they just did that without any notice. I've never been treated like that by any company anywhere in the world. If it happened to me, it can happen to anyone." The Battle over France.com [arstechnica.com]


Ouch!
That must really smart.
4:07 pm on Apr 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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ruled that France.com was violating French trademark law.
Huh?!? I'd like to see that trademark filing. Does that mean they're going to go after everyone who has ever written or printed the word "France"(tm) without a tm mark?
9:16 pm on Apr 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Isn't that why Kentucky Fried Chicken had to change its name to KFC, and the Kentucky Derby also had to find a new name?

:: idly wondering how much the French state spent on lawyers, and whether they ever tried offering a similar sum (or, let's say, 1 less than this sum) to simply buy the domain quietly ::
3:29 am on May 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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When I first glanced at the Home page I only saw "The Battle over France"

I immediately thought "What... again?"
5:18 am on May 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Gives a new twist to the phrase "eminent domain."
9:25 am on May 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hmm. Not so sure about the protestations of innocence there...

Just over the border there have been legendary domain disputes about cities and towns in Germany (heidelberg.de or badwildbad.com, for example) and all have been lost to the local authorities because of damage to their inherent rights to their location name.

I've even had to fight off a legal claim from a tourist area (not a town) despite individual partners within that association co-operating with me.

You have to think that someone with a country domain would expect to need deep pockets.
9:46 am on May 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I think there is a difference. Both the examples you have a subject to .de rules. All ccTLDs have rules and operate under their national law.

In this case it is subject to .com TLD rules and US (specifically Florida, if they use the normal web.com agreement) jurisdiction, so this seem to be an entirely arbitrary decision.

Does this mean that uk.com may be handed over to the UK government at any time? It so this creates a lot of uncertainty about a lot of domains.

This is not a country domain, the country domain is .fr, and the government presumably has a second level domain to itself (i.e. the equivalent of .gov in English speaking countries).
10:17 am on May 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Actually, one of my German examples was, quite deliberately, a .com owned and hosted in the USA...

In einem Domain-Streit ist auch dann deutsches Recht anzuwenden, wenn die in Rede stehende Domain von einem Server mit Sitz in den USA in das Internet eingespeist wird, denn der Schutz gegen Verletzungen des Namens richtet sich nach dem Tatort; dabei reicht es aus, dass die Verletzung im Inland eintritt.


Or, roughly translated:

German law should be applied even in the case of a domain on a server located in the USA as the injury to the name applies to the location and that means that the injury occurs within Germany.
6:08 pm on May 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hmmm, will be interesting to see how they handle Berlin.com, for example, as there are multiple places in the world with that name, not just the well known one.
9:45 am on May 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I missed the .com example, but in that case who were the registrar and the original domain owner. If the latter was in Germany it is reasonable for German law to apply.

In this case, the domain owner and registrar are in the US.. Presumably any country can do the same, which now means anyone who owns a domain may lose it because of a case under the law of any country?
9:49 am on May 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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This story might be more complex than what is publicly exposed and claimed by the former owner of the domain name. I don't think it's only a problem with the domain name itself, but may be because the content of the site and how it was used.
4:38 pm on May 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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got a valuable country/state/bigcity domain? trademark it.
6:53 pm on May 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Registering a trademark won't stop disputes if someone else argues they've got a stronger claim to the name.