March 31, 2017
The Court of Appeals of Versailles (France) recently confirmed the ruling of the court of first instance of Nanterre to invalidate a decision of the French registry on the domain names saoneetloire.fr, saone-et-loire.fr et saône-et-loire.fr.
These domain names were registered in 2004 and 2012 by a French registrar. The Registrar benefited from a priority to the registration of the accented domain in 2012, as the owner of the non-accented identical domain.
The French department of Saône-et-Loire requested the transfer of those domain names, but this request was never answered positively.
The department thus decided to initiate a Syreli complaint before the French registry, Afnic. While the Afnic panel rendered a positive decision on the accented domain name, it refuse to order the transfer of the two other domain names to the departement which, logically, decided to take the case to trial.
The decision rendered on March 14, 2017 by the Court of Appeals confirms that all domains must be transfered to the complainant, on two different legal bases.
The Court firstly founded its deicison on the trademark rights of the departement on the term "Saône-et-Loire" to justify the transfer of the accented domain name. Regarding the two other domains which transfer had been refused by Afnic, the Court ruled that the registrar of those domains - which was also the registrant - had no legitimate interest in domain names "identical or related to the name of a local authority".
This confirmation was expected, as Afnic's primary decision seemed surprising.
Out-of-court disputes on .FR domains may now be settled at WIPO. IP Twins remains at your disposal for any additional information.