A French-born American is suing France for cyber-squatting and “reverse domain-name hijacking.”
Jean-Noel Frydman says the French government illegally seized the domain name France.com from him. He had owned the domain since 1994 and had been using it as a “digital kiosk” for Francophile Americans. Over the years, Frydman has worked with French agencies including the Consulate General in Los Angeles and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, according to his lawsuit, the French government has even recognized him as a “leader in the tourism industry.”
In 2015, the French government sued in French court to recover the domain name. An appeals court ruled in 2017 that the domain name France.com violated French trademark law. In March 2018, the domain name was transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the registrar of the domain, Web.com.
But Frydman says he was never notified by the government or by Web.com that he was going to lose the website, so he filed a federal lawsuit in Virginia to get back the website he believes is rightfully his. Among the parties listed as defendants in the lawsuit are the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, a French government tourism website, and the Republic of France as a whole.
Frydman told Ars Technica, “If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.”