The domain name is a textual address assigned to an IP address, allowing an Internet user to access a particular website.
The association of the domain name with the IP address is carried out by the DNS, which thus allows the management of domain name requests in IP address.
The domain name is composed of at least one term and one extension. This extension can be generic (.com, .org, .net…) or territorial (.fr, .uk, .com.cn…).
The domain name must be registered with an accredited registrar, depending on its availability and the applicable registration rules.
Indeed, domain names are in principle allocated on a first come, first served basis. There cannot be several strictly identical domain names.
In addition, some domain name extensions have strict allocation rules.
For example, domain names in “.fr” can only be attributed to :
- Any entity or person with a legal existence in France;
- Any natural person residing in the European Union;
- Any legal entity with its registered office or principal place of business in the European Union.
There are, however, notable exceptions to the first-come, first-served rule, in particular when a newly registered domain name infringes upon the prior rights of third parties, and in particular upon a prior trademark, whether it be cybersquatting or typosquatting. Specific procedures, in particular the UDRP and SYRELI procedures, are then provided for in order to protect the rights of trademark owners.
The domain name can constitute a distinctive sign, in the same way as a company name or a sign. It is an important intangible asset for organizations because of its business and strategic value.
Point of legislation
” The allocation and management of domain names attached to each top-level domain of the Internet domain addressing system corresponding to the country codes of the national territory or part thereof shall be centralized by a single body called the “registry.
Article L45 of the French Post and Electronic Communications Code
Point of jurisprudence
The Court of Cassation has ruled that ” the rules governing the allocation of domain names on the internet, which respect both the principles of freedom of communication and freedom of enterprise and intellectual property rights, have neither the object nor the effect of restricting the right of the trademark owner to prohibit the use without his consent, in the course of trade, of a sign identical or similar to the trademark for goods or services identical or similar to those for which it is registered, if such use is detrimental to the essential function of the mark, which is to guarantee to consumers the origin of the goods or services, because of a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public, except for the effects of legitimate interest and good faith as regards the renewal of the registration of domain names on the Internet “.
Court of Cassation, June 5, 2019, #17-22.132