back to article US citizen sues France over France-dot-com brouhaha

An expat in the US is suing the French government and Verisign after the Fifth Republic seized the domain name France.com. The lawsuit, filed in the American federal courts, seeks the return of France.com to the control of the online travel agency Jean-Noel Frydman, a French-born US citizen, set up around the domain France.com …

  1. }{amis}{
    Joke

    What are you going to do, bleed on me?

    I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal-food-trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What are you going to do, bleed on me?

      The down votes, I see the french, they are revolting. (J'ai un casque du fromage)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: What are you going to do, bleed on me?

        I was going to say that http://cheeseeatingsurrendermonkeys.com was available - but it's taken !

        1. handleoclast

          Re: What are you going to do, bleed on me?

          I was going to say that http://cheeseeatingsurrendermonkeys.com was available - but it's taken !

          I didn't do a whois on it (to avoid NetSol then registering it themselves so they can sell it for more money), but it appears fuckfrance.com is available.

  2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Shirley

    ...French courts have no jurisdiction regarding US domains? (Which is what .com domains basically are)

    And does this mean M.Macron can seize france.xxx and any other french-related domains? cheese-eating.com? surrender-monkeys.com?

    1. James 51

      Re: Shirley

      Governments have laws to do this all over the world. Normally it's for property such as land so it will be interesting to see what happens with more intangible assets.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Shirley

        Trademarks are a different matter. In the UK certain words can't be used in company names without permission e.g. Royal, British etc, but I don't know if UK courts have the power to demand the handover of british-kneecap-traders.tv unless someone is already using the trademark etc in the UK? Is 'France' a trademark of the French Government?

        1. This is my handle

          Re: Shirley

          Upvoted for the reference to M. Beltrame in defense of our friends on "the continent".

          As a former POTUS presumably said (back when the country really was great (again)): "Every man has two countries - his own and France"

          1. Donn Bly

            Re: Potus?

            When did Henri de Bornier (the originator of that quote circa 1875) become a President Of The United States?

            Even Monticello & the Jefferson Presidential Library disclaim it.

            https://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/every-man-has-two-countries-his-own-and-france-spurious-quotation

          2. Joseph Slabaugh

            Re: Shirley

            Although the saying, "Every man has two countries - his own and France" has been attributed to Jefferson many times, this exact wording has never been found in his writings. It has been suggested that it may be a paraphrase of this passage from Jefferson's Autobiography:

            "So ask the travelled inhabitant of any nation, In what country on earth would you rather live?&—Certainly in my own, where are all my friends, my relations, and the earliest & sweetest affections and recollections of my life. Which would be your second choice? France."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shirley

      Shirley a small country can rename themselves to Apple, for the profit on a days hijacked add revenue on page hits... it would be worth it...

    3. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese

      Re: Shirley

      ...French courts have no jurisdiction regarding US domains? (Which is what .com domains basically are)

      Not strictly true - .com denotes commercial rather than USA-ian. No specific geography implied, although many people seem to associate this TLD with the left-hand side of the pond as we're used to seeing .co.uk for commercial domains over here.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shirley

        [from wikipedia]

        The [.com] domain was originally administered by the United States Department of Defense, but is today operated by Verisign, and remains under ultimate jurisdiction of U.S. law. Verisign Registrations in the .com domain are processed via registrars accredited by ICANN. The registry accepts internationalized domain names.

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Shirley

      M.Macron can seize france.xxx

      It is not M. Macron. It is the French courts.

      It is as legal as USA claiming jurisdiction outside its borders - f.e. regarding any economic relationships between two non-USA entities. Or data stored in Ireland.

      surrender-monkeys.com?

      You mean like this one?

      On a more serious note this shows the whole ridiculousness of the idea of global jurisdiction.

    5. Aqua Marina

      Re: Shirley

      “...French courts have no jurisdiction regarding US domains? (Which is what .com domains basically are)”

      I’m wondering if the expat registered the domain in 1994 in France, using a French registrar. If said registrar was still running the hosting then it would be quite easy for the French courts to force transfer of the assets to the government.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Eh?

    "When it became clear that the government could not afford to pay a fair price"

    Does that not sound a little contradictory, let alone laughable.

    1. Dramoth

      Re: Eh?

      Sounds like he wanted way too much for the domain and the French surrender monkeys decided to say screw you and took it by force!

      1. ArrZarr

        Re: Eh?

        From the Article and a quick look at the translated letter, this wasn't a case of domain squatting but a case of somebody maintaining a proper website which the French Govt decided they wanted the domain of.

        If that's the case then he is justified asking for a huge price, just like if instead of being called Brazil, it were called Amazon; There probably isn't enough money in the world to get him to sell his core domain name.

      2. Rob D.

        Re: Eh?

        > Sounds like he wanted way too much

        It doesn't look as though there was an initial commercial negotiation (at least neither side seems to have put anything in the public domain). The first action listed appears to be the French courts in 2015 (after a long period of apparently publicly supporting france.com under its original ownership).

        And adding the reference from the lawsuit: "Defendants did not approach Plaintiff to purchase or license the domain, the trademark, or Plaintiff's underlying business and goodwill."

      3. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: Eh?

        "Sounds like he wanted way too much for the domain"

        That is not what the word "fair" means.

    2. the hatter

      Re: Eh?

      Hard to know without the details, but there are still a lot of companies who think that because you paid $10 for the domain, their offer of $200 is just far too good to have any reason to legitimately decline. My guess is that (at least without the risk of the french government just seizing it) there's half a dozen entities who would offer substantially more than than the government did, and that is it's market value. That's the value in forward thinking and planning.

    3. Malcolm Weir

      Optional

      Well... it does give us a guide: since the government clearly can afford to pay 6.6b Euro for the Paris Olympics, they surely must have offered the poor guy at least that (if they can't afford to buy it).

      So I do think he's being a little unreasonable: in the open market it cannot be worth more than, say, 5 billion Euro!

      1. JMcL

        Re: Optional

        As a comparison, the ireland.com was sold to Tourism Ireland for €495k in 2012 (https://www.rte.ie/news/business/2012/1016/341838-ireland-com-domain-sold-to-tourism-ireland/) It had been registered as a domain by the Irish Times newspaper probably around the same time as M. Frydman registered france.com and they offered an email service as well as content from the paper (long since moved to irishtimes.com). They apologised for inconvenience to their valued customers (15k active at the time so value is some number <€33). With a population 15 times that of Ireland, yoyo for yoyo that would value it around €7.5m. Given that he wasn't cybersquatting and was actively promoting France, it doesn't seem that excessive for a long established business

  4. The Mole

    "When it became clear that the government could not afford to pay a fair price, the Government of France instead set out to expropriate the france.com domain name."

    I don't know if it is a bad translation but this makes no sense. For a company the size of France it can always 'afford' to pay a fair price - in the worst case it prints the money/adds it to the national debt. Of course politically it might not want to, or there may be a disagreement of what a fair price was ("The government offered to pay a 'fair' price but it was rejected") but even then after seizing it they should have paid compensation.

    1. Joseph Slabaugh

      OK, question, what do you think the Whitehouse should pay for the former porn site, Whitehouse.com?

  5. Herring`

    Does anyone else remember there was a guy who bought the domain "fly-bmi.com" and set it up as a resource (including a body mass index calculator) for owners of obese houseflies? Not to annoy the airline at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I don't remember that, but it made me smile - have an upvote for the reference

    2. MiguelC Silver badge

      It can be yours now

      The domain fly-bmi.com is for sale. To purchase, call Afternic.com at +1 781-373-6847 or 855-201-2286. Click (t)here for more details.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. the hatter

      For a long time, there was a viking-direct domain with a website that claimed to supply all your horn-helmeted, nordic raiding needs, despite several attempts from a certain office stationery company to claim the domain had been registered in bad faith. Long before many UDRP and arbitration policies, or even scarily long domain registrant terms and conditions, and the owners were quite happy to do enough to keep the corporate lawyers busy trying to work out a solution, it was a long, entertaining saga.

      1. Stork Silver badge

        Vikings

        did _not_ have horns on their helms! It was Wagners invention. That earned you a downvote :-(

        1. Mage Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Vikings

          Curiously though, the Continental Celts did about 500 to 1000 years earlier. The Vikings didn't.

    5. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Dodgy Domain Ownership

      Back in the late nineties/early noughties, there was a bloke whose car was trashed in a carwash at a BP petrol station. After being told by BP that it 'really was nothing to do with us', he took the admirable step of searching through variations of BP's name until he found that nobody owned britishpetroleum.co.uk.

      He bought it up, and filled the website with pictures of the damage done to his car and a long diatribe against BP.

      That domein is now owned by BP and redirects to bp.com. I don't know how much it cost them, but I hope he at least got a new car out of it.

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: Dodgy Domain Ownership

        EDIT:

        Just checked with the wayback machine and it turns out it was .com, not .co.uk. Which makes sense, because you need to have a trading name matching the domain name for .co.uk - or at least you did back in the 90s

  6. Dabooka Silver badge

    I thought those days were over

    So the French are getting tied up in court cases reminiscent of 2004, and against one of their own, supporting their country, citizens and services.

    I would've thought we'd be the only state stupid enough to do something on this scale. Quite remarkable really.

  7. Velv
    Boffin

    Once it's on The Internet, it's there forever...

    An interesting one indeed.

    The wayback machine has the site back to 04/Nov/1996 and has a long history of updates. If he's been leveraging it commercially then no doubt he has accounts to prove its worth, which I suspect might be in the millions over a number of years, hence the French government aren't willing to cough up.

    From the initial evidence, I find for the plaintiff.

    1. jackbee

      Re: Once it's on The Internet, it's there forever...

      And back in the days France was busy promoting Minitel as a superior platform, so they didn't give a damn: "la internet c'est une m**de! Vive le Minitel!!!". :)

  8. TheSirFin

    This has happened before - just agree a reasonable price for it and for one dont feed the lawyers!

    From Wikipedia:

    "Online

    In 1994, The Irish Times established a website called Irish-times.ie; it was the first newspaper in Ireland and one of the first 30 newspapers in the world to do so. The company acquired the domain name Ireland.com in 1997, and from 1999 to 2008, used it to publish its online edition. It was freely available at first but charges and a registration fee were introduced in 2002 for access to most of the content. A number of blogs were added in April 2007 written by Jim Carroll, Shane Hegarty, and Conor Pope. On 30 June 2008, the company relaunched Ireland.com as a separate lifestyle portal and the online edition of the newspaper was now published at irishtimes.com. It was supplied free of charge,[36] but a subscription was charged to view its archives.

    On 15 October 2012 John O'Shea, Head of Online, The Irish Times, announced that the ireland.com domain name had been sold to Tourism Ireland, and that the ireland.com email service would end on 7 November 2012. The domain name was sold for €495,000. The ending of the email service affected about 15,000 subscribers.[37]

    The newspaper announced on 17 February 2015 the reintroduction of a paywall for its website, irishtimes.com, beginning on 23 February.[38][39][40]"

    1. Velv
      Headmaster

      Reasonable

      “just agree a reasonable price for it”

      And what is a “reasonable” price? What would be “reasonable” if Brazil took over amazon.com? I’m not suggesting the two are in the same ballpark here, but the principle remains.

      1. 404
        Mushroom

        Re: Reasonable

        Can you imagine? An Amazon Basics Peniship exploding above Rio to 'encourage' the leadership of Brazil to come to it's senses? Whew.. corporate wars. Like 'Friday' by Robert Heinlein.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Reasonable

        So following the Oracle CEOs next lunch with Trump - we know which Indonesian island the US is going to seize.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Frydman's France.com Inc has previously won awards from the Atout France for his work promoting France to American tourists

    He could continue that work by offering package deals to those interested in joining the annual festivities of "French youth" setting fire to tires and automobiles.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      joining the annual festivities of "French youth" setting fire to tires and automobiles.

      Assuming that Air France, SNCF etc. weren't on strike when they tried to travel, of course.

  10. elDog

    If only I could redirect trump.com to stoopid.us

    I realize that this is a non sequitor [sp] but this domain-name system and control through the brokers seems bonkers.

    Vive la/le France.froggy.com!

  11. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Looks like since France and the US have become friendly recently the French are taking a leaf of out the US rule book and deciding that French courts apply to people and entities outside of France.

    Clearly the French government had over 20 years to object to the business using France.com and didn't bother doing so, so should have lost any rights to claim the domain name because of this.

  12. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    is set to cost him "millions of dollars"

    Really ? Okay, so how many millions has he made up to now ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: is set to cost him "millions of dollars"

      Well so far... he's made $100, but if you extrapalate that to infinity, you will find that it comes to rather a lot.

  13. Maelstorm Bronze badge
    Megaphone

    Here in the US...

    I read about this here in the US. Basically, a french court sent an order to Web.com to transfer the domain without notification. The com/net/org/edu/mil/gov domains are for U.S. use only. Because of this, and france.com, web.com, and verisign are all based in the U.S., U.S. law applies here. Because now a different registar has control of the domain, ICANN will probably have to get involved to get it back. Oh yeah, this is going to be a messy court battle...but then again, maybe not. Since the court that issued the order is not a U.S. court, the order is invalid inside the borders of the U.S., where all the main actors are (except France).

    So basically, what we have is this: A foreign government (France) has taken U.S. property belonging to a U.S. citizen without a U.S. court order, which is in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution. It's basically the same thing as the U.K government sending a letter to Wells Fargo Bank to transfer all the funds from some individual in the U.S. to the U.K.'s general fund.

    Um...yeah.

    One other thing, might be a red herring, but the U.S. Government is specifically prohibited from owning copyrights, trademarks, etc.... So anything that the government produces (from an employee or officer) is considered to be in the public domain. Don't know about France, but since the french court order does in fact conflict with U.S. law on the face of it, France will probably lose the domain name.

    The .com domain: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.com

  14. allegoricus

    Echoes...

    ... of the nissan.com saga.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2s8u5z/ama_request_uzi_nissan_owner_of_nissancom_and/

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looks like a travel agent website...

    Basically this guy was running a travel agency web site AFAIKT.

    Eh... I'm 50-50 on this one. There are a lot worse squatters around. I guess it depends on how much money he was offered before legal action, I guess.

    1. David Nash

      Re: Looks like a travel agent website...

      "There are a lot worse squatters around."

      Yes and as has already been pointed out, he wasn't squatting, he was using it legitimately.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021