Man Sues France for Swiping France.com

Jean-Noël Frydman bought the domain in 1994
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2018 8:53 AM CDT
France Sued After It Seized France.com
There's a battle underway for France.com.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – For 24 years, Jean-Noël Frydman owned a tres formidable web domain: France.com. Now he's suing to get it back. The French-born American shares his saga with Ars Technica, which reports that after buying the domain in 1994, Frydman built a site catering to US-based French speakers. In the process, he worked with French agencies, among them the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to the federal suit he filed in Virginia, around 2015 the ministry began warming to the idea of having the domain for itself, but didn't offer to buy Frydman out. Instead, it seized the domain through what Frydman alleges was a "[misuse of] the French judicial system" revolving around "the erroneous theory that Defendants were inherently entitled to take the domain because it included the word 'France.'"

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As for those judicial maneuverings, Ars Technica explains the Paris Court of Appeals last September ruled a violation of trademark law had occurred, and the country's lawyers then reached out to Web.com—Frydman says he's probably one of its oldest customers—requesting a transfer of the domain, which was granted March 12. Frydman says he was neither notified about the move nor paid anything for the domain. The Local reports that France.com currently redirects to the country's official France.fr site. As for Frydman, he's not wholly without a website, notes the BBC: He's currently running unfairfrance.com, which catalogs "the 20+ years of constant partnership between France.com and various entities and branches of the French government who ... consistently encouraged and supported its initiatives and activities." (A minister from this country claimed it has had the internet for 5,000 years.)

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