AIR FRANCE ET AL. VERSUS AFNIC, EURODNS
Court of Appeal of Paris, Division 5, Chamber 2, Judgment of 19 October 2012:
- Parties: Air France et al. versus Afnic, EuroDNS
- Subject: The liability of Afnic and EuroDns with regard to the registration of disputed domain names
Thirteen companies, including Air France, l’Oréal, Danone, France Télévision, Michelin, Lancôme, Renault and Les Voyageurs du Monde, filed a lawsuit against EuroDns (one of the main domain name registrars) and Afnic (an association responsible for managing ".fr" domain names) for having allowed the registration of 129 domain names which infringed their renowned trade marks.
Although the District Court (Tribunal de Grande Instance) of Paris ordered EuroDns to transfer a portion of the relevant domain names, it held that Afnic did not infringe by failing to implement a measure to block or freeze the disputed domain names.
The companies involved (except the Auchan group and 3 Suisses) appealed this decision.
With regard to the claim filed against EuroDns, the Court of Appeal of Paris held that:
- It did not infringe renowned trade marks as it did not actively participate in choosing the domain names nor used the disputed trade marks for commercial purposes or unduly profited from their reputation.
- EuroDns only conducts a simple registry business and is therefore not bound to implement a filtering or control system for the registration of domain names.
- It acted diligently and cooperated with Afnic to obtain the suppression, freezing or non-renewal of the disputed domain names.
With regard to the claim filed against Afnic, the Court of Appeal of Paris affirmed once again that:
- The French Post and Electronic Communications Code does not impose on Afnic an obligation to block or freeze a domain name at the request of a third party.
- The Ministerial Decree relating to Afnic's authorisation indicates that it has no authority to block a domain name at the request of a third party without a court order.
The Court of Appeal of Paris confirmed the judgment and rejected the appellants' claims.