Registry and registrar not liable for infringing domain names

In an October 19 2012 decision the Paris Court of Appeal ruled that the Association Française pour le Nommage Internet en Coopération (AFNIC), the registry for the '.fr' country-code top-level domain, was not liable for failing to freeze or block an infringing domain name on notice by an interested party without a court order. The court also held that EuroDNS, a Luxembourg-based registrar, was not liable for failing to monitor the registration of potentially infringing domain names, even in the case of well-known trademarks.

Up until 2004 it was necessary to prove a "right in the name" – such as a corresponding French registered trademark – in order to be able to register a domain name under the '.fr' extension. However, as a result of the liberalisation of the registration rules for French domain names in May 2004, cybersquatters went on a domain name registration frenzy, particularly in relation to well-known trademarks.

In 2008 13 French companies whose well-known trademarks had been frequently targeted by cybersquatters following the liberalisation filed a lawsuit against AFNIC (the registry) and EuroDNS (the registrar) for allowing the registration of 129 domain names that allegedly infringed their trademark rights. The French companies alleged that the registrar had failed to monitor the registration of infringing domain names, and had failed to freeze or block a domain name on notice of the existence of the infringing domain names.

Read the article online here