The original owner of the domain name, France.com, has filed a lawsuit to recover the domain name after it was seized by the French government. Now France faces a lawsuit after seizing the domain name from the owner who was actively using it, according to Engadget.
Many times when a popular domain name is seized, it is an attempt to kick out domain name squatters who hold on to the name for future purposes of selling it. In March, the domain name France.com was seized from its owner, Jean-Noël Frydman. Now the country is facing a federal-level U.S. lawsuit.
France.com, Inc. filed the suit in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia, according to Domain Name Wire.
Frydman bought the domain name in 1994 and was using the site to promote tours in France, and according to Engadget, Frydman had also partnered with French government agencies while the site was up and running. However, in 2015, France sued the domain owner in an attempt to gain control over the domain name.
A one-word domain name is rare and are considered “top-level domains” and can be sold for millions. For example, Insure.com was bought for $16 million, Power.com was sold for $1.2 million, and Cameras.com was sold for $1.5 million, according to the Business Insider.
In September of 2017, an appeals court ruled that France.com had violated French trademark law.
However, Jean-Noël did not foresee the domain name and website being seized from his registrar, Web.com.
The lawsuit targets the French government, in addition to VeriSign, which also deals with the domain registrar. VeriSign is also located in the Eastern District of Virginia. The lawsuit also named Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian.
— The Daily Dot (@dailydot) April 29, 2018
According to some sources, Frydman may have a strong case because he was actively using the website for business purposes. In addition to this, in the lawsuit filing, the French government had explicitly acknowledged that it did not own the right to the word “France.”
Law officials did not make an effort to purchase or license the domain from Frydman before seizing it. According to the lawsuit, the French government acted as if they were “inherently entitled” to take the domain name.
— Engadget (@engadget) April 30, 2018
The result of the lawsuit will set a major precedent in the battle of domain name ownership. The dispute on whether France.com infringes on the country’s trademark will definitely spark a debate on social media.
In addition to this, the question of whether or not an entire country has the right to seize a domain name from a foreign resident because it believes it has the right to that web address will also be settled.
The plaintiff says that the defendants lack authority to seize property in the United States, according to Domain Name Wire.
If France comes out as the victor, there will be a major concern for other countries who may use the same excuse to seize domains held by private parties.