France.com owner sues after government seizes website

France.com owner sues after government seizes website
UPI

April 30 (UPI) — The longtime owner of the France.com website is suing the French government, in U.S. court, after Paris seized the domain name.

Jean-Noel Frydman, a French-born American citizen living in New York City, has owned the domain since 1994, the year the World Wide Web began. Eighteen months later, he launched the site as a “digital kiosk” for American enthusiasts of French culture.

The website often collaborated with French ministries, he said, but the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs began a lawsuit in 2015 to expropriate the domain name.

The French Court of Appeals ruled last year Frydman’s use of the name violated copyright laws. Web.com Group, where the name was registered, officially turned it over to the ministry in March.

Frydman filed a federal lawsuit against the French government, its Atout France tourism agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Virginia court this month.

The suit accuses the government of “reverse domain-name hijacking” and “abusing the French judicial system to seize the plaintiff’s estate without compensation.” The suit says the domain was taken “under the erroneous theory that the defendants inherently had the right to take the estate because it included the word ‘France.’”

French technological website Siecle Digitale said the case could be ruled in Frydman’s favor because Paris never offered to purchase the domain name.

France.com redirects users to the English-language version of France’s official tourism website.

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