In an attempt to get the rights to the France.com domain back, Jean-Noël Frydman is suing the French Republic, Atout France (a government tourism agency), the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and VeriSign. Frydman's lawsuit accuses France of cybersquatting and "reverse domain-name hijacking," and more.
French-born Frydman claims the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs illegally seized the France.com domain that had been under his ownership since he purchased it from Network Solutions, LLC in 1994. He says he set up the website in 1995 as a "digital kiosk" about France and "included information about French culture, the Francophile community and a small section on tourism to France."
Over the last 20+ years, Frydman claims that he coordinated information
offered on the website with several official French government
agencies, including the Consulate General in Los Angeles and the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That is, until the French Ministry of
Foreign Affairs filed a lawsuit in France to gain control of the
domain. After years in litigation, the lawsuit ended up in an
appeals court in September 2017, that ruled France.com violated
French trademark law and must be handed over to the French
government. Then, in March of this year, ownership of the domain
was transferred by Web.com to the French Ministry of Foreign
Frydman says he never got formal notification about the transfer and received no compensation: "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."
Vivek Krishnamurthy, a lawyer and instructor at Harvard Law School's Cyberlaw Clinic, who is assisting Frydman with the lawsuit, told The New York Times: "The reason why we got involved is that there seemed to be a chance of a significant injustice being done here and one that has really important implications for how the internet works. Here was a case where the French government before its own courts was advancing a legal theory that, if it were true, could really disrupt the security of domain names."
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