Dangerous place if you're arguing with the government

The French Revolution didn’t so much destroy the divine right of kings as invest it in the bureaucracy. A good example of the contention is this fight over the ownership of the France.com domain name. The French government has decided that obviously this should belong to the State, not to any individual. Even an individual said State has given prizes to for the manner in which they used the domain name to boost tourism to France.

They’ve also decided to take it without compensation. Or, in fact, any warning if we’re reading the complaint right.

This is really quite remarkable:

The French government is being sued over the way it has sought to take over the France.com web domain.

In 2015, France started legal action against Frenchman Jean-Noel Frydman, who had registered France.com in 1994.

Two years later, a French court ruled in France’s favour and the government began to lobby domain host web.com to take control away from Mr Frydman.

And now Mr Frydman, who built a business around the domain, says France has “illegally” seized the site.

He says France.com was taken away from him without warning in mid-March.

Note that this isn’t cybersquatting. The domain name was being used – as the State itself agreed when it gave a prize or two to the guy doing the using.

Following a lawsuit first launched in 2015, the Paris Court of Appeals ruled that France.com was violating French trademark law, and said that the rightful owner of the domain was France’s foreign ministry.

Isn’t this an interesting argument in favour of investor state dispute settlement systems, ISDS? For who thinks that an American is going to get a fair shake of the stick against the French State in a French courtroom? And who thinks that rather more attention might be paid to the law, rather than the desires of said State, in a neutral courtroom?

The lawsuit itself is here.

Now think of the arrogance of what has been done. Clearly, France.gov.fr belongs to the French government. And they can have whatever law they like about the allocation of France.fr. But France.com is a piece of American property, located, legally at least, in the United States of America. Which belongs to an American citizen. And a French court thinks that it can just be taken, without compensation, at whim?

Aren’t you glad we’re leaving the EU, based as it is upon governments like this?

Support Continental Telegraph Donate

4 COMMENTS

  1. The French court didn’t take it.

    The French court issued a ruling that it was violating French trademark law, and that it should be handed to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    Lawyers showed this to the American company ( web.com ) who manage the domain, who promptly turned it over.

    Courts make ridiculous extra territorial rulings all the time.

    The problem here is a US company that thought they’d take the easy route, rather than the legal route.

    • Incidentally, the US for years has led the way in extraterritoriality, including all the IRS chores an offshore bank must perform if it dares to let a Yank open an account, and all the cases where we prevent foreigner-to-foreigner transactions from being cleared through New York for the sake of Doing Good in the world.