Cybersquatter shuts up shop following supermarket complaint

France

The Nanterre Court of First Instance has upheld a summary judgment action against the registration and use by an individual of the domain name 'michel-edouard-leclerc.fr'.

Following changes to the '.fr' country-code top-level domain name registration system, it is now easier for parties to register domain names without being the holder of an identical company name, trademark registration or personal name. Under these wider rules, an individual named Stéphane H registered 'michel-edouard-leclerc.fr' and linked it to a pornographic website. H also offered the domain name for sale.

Michel-Edouard Leclerc is the name of the chairman of the supermarket chain Leclerc. The chain, which owns various LECLERC marks, brought a trademark infringement action against H.

In a summary proceeding, the Nanterre Court of First Instance upheld Leclerc's claim and ordered the cancellation of the disputed domain name. It held that H was in breach of the domain name registration agreement signed with the French Association for Cooperation in Internet Naming, which stated that (i) the domain name should not infringe the rights of third parties, and (ii) the registrant was entitled to use the domain name but could not offer it for sale.

In addition to ordering the cancellation of the domain name, the court granted provisional damages to both Michel-Edouard Leclerc and the Leclerc supermarket chain.

The ruling demonstrates that although it is now easier than ever for registrants to engage in cybersquatting, the court system can put an end to this kind of practice quickly and efficiently.

Richard Milchior, Milchior-Smilevtich, Paris

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