This week, the EU General Court held that privately owned ‘France.com’ cannot be registered as a trademark in the EU. The ruling upholds a decision by the EUIPO.
The EUIPOs original judgment was based on the fact that a “conceptual similarity” to a French trademark of the same name meant “France.com” could not be considered a valid trademark. The French government had claimed Frydman’s domain name conflicts with its own registered trademark (“France”), which it registered with EUIPO in 2010. Jean-Noel Frydman had originally requested an annulment of the decision, but this was turned away by the EU General Court.
“In light of the fact that the signs at issue cover identical or similar services and have a particularly high degree of phonetic and conceptual similarity, the Court finds that there is a likelihood of confusion,” the court said, confirming EUIPO’s decision that the French government is “entitled to oppose registration of the sign France.com.”
In April, French-born American citizen Jean-Noël Frydman against the French Government in a U.S Court claiming cybersquatting and hijacking his domain name. Frydman purchased the domain in 1994. It is likely that the EU decision will have an impact on this case.
The domain, which previously housed Frydman’s online travel business, now redirects to “French.fr,” a portal run by Atout, France’s tourist office.