France taken to court after seizing France.com
A man born in France has launched a lawsuit against the country's foreign ministry after it seized the web domain France.com from him.
US citizen Jean-Noel Frydman has owned France.com since the mid-1990s and used it as a "digital kiosk" for Americans with an interest in the country.
He told technology website Ars Technica that it was a business through which he often collaborated with official agencies in France – at least until this March, when those agencies took the domain from him.
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.
Mr Frydman said that Web.com subsequently gave the ministry control of France.com without formally notifying him, nor compensating him for the loss of property.
"I'm probably [one of Web.com's] oldest customers," Mr Frydman told Ars Technica. "I've been with them for 24 years…there's never been any cases against France.com, and they just did that without any notice.
"I've never been treated like that by any company anywhere in the world. If it happened to me, it can happen to anyone."
Mr Frydman has now launched a lawsuit against France, accusing it of cyber-squatting the France.com domain and of having "misused the French judicial system to seize the domain…without compensation".
France's foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, is named as a defendant in the legal filing.
The French foreign ministry and Web.com were unable to immediately respond to Sky News' enquiries.
More from France
Cybersquatting conflicts – in which one group believes itself to be the legitimate owner of a web domain – have resulted in a number of high-profile and protracted legal battles.
In 2015, a five-year legal battle by the organisers of the Oscars over alleged cybersquatting ended in defeat when a judge pointed out that some of the Oscar-themed domains were legitimately owned and operated by people called Oscar.