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Original France.com owner sues to recover domain from the country

French courts nabs valuable domain name for its government.

France.com was used by a tour operator. Now the French government owns it. (Photo from Screenshots.com)

The original registrant of France.com back in 1994 has filed a lawsuit (pdf) to try to recover the domain name France.com, which the country managed to wrestle away through the French court system.

France.com, Inc. filed the suit in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Verisign is located. It names The French Republic, a number of French government entities, the domain name, and Verisign as defendants.

The plaintiff has been using the domain name to promote tours in France. In 2015 the defendants tried to get control of the domain name through the French judicial system. In 2016 the Tribunal de Grand Instance de Paris ordered the domain transferred to the French government. The plaintiff appealed, and the appeals court affirmed the lower court decision.

The plaintiff says that the defendants lack authority to seize property in the United States (where France.com, Inc. is located) but they reached out to Web.com, the domain name registrar, and managed to get Web.com to transfer the domain name to the defendants in March.

Boom. The plaintiff’s business was sunk. The site now forwards to France.fr and obviously the plaintiff’s email addresses no longer work, too.

France.com, Inc. is suing on a number of grounds, including Reverse Domain Name Hijacking, expropriation, and more.

It’s interesting to note that the City of Paris, France, was ordered by a U.S. court to pay $100,000 for reverse domain name hijacking and tortious interference in a domain name dispute. Something tells me they haven’t paid.

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Reader Interactions


    Leave a Comment

    • Joseph Peterson says

      Web.com has some explaining to do. Why didn’t they stand up for registrant rights? They handed over a customer’s property based on a very dubious argument, it seems to me. If this had happened at the registrar where I work, I would have put up a fight on the registrant’s behalf.

  1. John says

    Appalling. And another reason why the ICANN transition was such a bad idea. Never would have happened prior to that.

  2. Blewy says

    Governments in the past spent millions trying to get domains through the courts instead of paying a small sum. There is more going on than them just being cheap.

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