Trademarks have a legal status that is well defined at the national and international levels. They are governed by industrial property rights.
Trademarks have a legal status that is well defined at the national and international levels.
They are governed by industrial property rights which are intended to protect inventions, patents... and trademarks. Depending on the geographic scope of the requisite protection, there are different types of trademarks.
For further information, please visit the following websites:
- INPI (the French National Institute of Industrial Property) which registers French trademarks;
- OHIM (the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market) which registers European Community trademarks;
- WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) which registers international trademarks.
Domain names have a legal status in accordance with case law.
Unlike trademarks, at present there is no code of law applicable to domain names. The absence of any specific legislation and regulations is a central issue in discussions on the legal status of domain names:
- user rights;
- ownership rights.
AFNIC has opted to allocate .fr and .re domain names in accordance with the principle of territoriality and the identification of all the owners. To do so, it has decided to draft a naming charter for each of the extensions it manages. Caution should be exercised in this respect, however: AFNIC is not entitled to carry out research for prior rights associated with the use of a trademark corresponding to a domain name.
Case-law in France
The use of a domain name that infringes the rights of a trademark owner may be liable to court proceedings either on the grounds of forgery or parasitic conduct.
If the domain name was registered before the trademark and is in use, the owner of the domain name may oppose the registration of the trademark. The courts have only allowed opposition in cases where the bad faith of the holder of the trademark has been demonstrated.
Before registering your domain name, you must ensure that it does not correspond to a trademark.
There will be no review by the registering body!
For greater peace of mind, we also recommend that you check your domain name does not correspond to the trade name of a company which already exists. To do so, carry out an audit with the French National Trade and Company Register (RNCS)
Read our special feature on .fr case law (in French).
What to do
For maximum safety, it is wise to register your domain name as a trademark, subject to the results of a prior art search.