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New Regime for Registration of .fr

Association Francaise pour le Nommage Internet en Cooperation (”AFNIC”), the domain name authority managing the French country code top level domain, is introducing a new regime for registration of .fr domain names.

Among the main changes, the new regime abolishes any “right to the name”. Until now an applicant for registration of a .fr domain name must prove that the domain name reflects its company name, business name or trade mark that is in force in France.

Under the new regime it will no longer be necessary for applicants to prove that they have any rights to their domain names: applications will be considered on a “first come, first served” basis.

Introduction of the new regime will be in two phases:

- In the second quarter of 2004 it will be possible for anyone who can be identified online in French public databases (e.g. companies, businesses, associations listed in the INSEE directory, trade mark owners, etc.) to apply for registration of a .fr domain name without the need to produce supporting legal documentation

- From the beginning of 2005, a similar provision will be extended to natural persons and to legal entities which are not identifiable from French public databases (e.g. associations not listed in the INSEE directory, etc.) provided that the person or entity has a legal presence in France

Although it is clear that the introduction of the new regime will be greatly welcomed, it is expected that there will be an increase in conflicts between domain name registrants and trademark owners.

AFNIC has announced that from commencement of the new regime a procedure will be available, as an alternative to litigation, for resolution of disputes between competing parties claiming rights in a .fr domain name.

While this alternative to litigation will be helpful, we are concerned that cybersquatters may take advantage of the liberalised regime to register available domain names that correspond to trade marks whose owners have taken no action to secure those domain names. It is therefore very important for trademark owners to protect their trademarks at the earliest opportunity by registering their corresponding .fr domain names.

By Philippe Rodhain, Intellectual Property Lawyer

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Michele Neylon  –  Mar 5, 2004 10:52 AM

This sounds very similar to the way the .it registry is handled.
What I would find to be a matter of concern is the handling of trademarks and copyright. Have they some form of dispute policy in place?

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