13/03/2024-The group in charge of the GI “Porcelaine de Limoges” wins a dispute in the context of the “.fr” string

Non-agricultural products’ names can be recognized and protected as GIs in France since 2014, following the Law No. 2014-344 of March 17, on Consumer Protection. In this framework, “porcelain de Limoges” has been protected since December 2017.

Prior to that, in February 2017, an individual had registered the domain name “<porcelainefrancaisedelimoges.fr>” at the Afnic, the  non-for-profit body in charge of managing the ccTLD “.fr”.

In October 2023, the group in charge of “Porcelaine de Limoges” decided to file a claim under SYRELI (the Alternative Dispute Resolution – ADR – a procedure managed by the Afnic), requesting the transfer of the above-mentioned domain name. In December 2023,  a SYRELI decision (FR-2023-03612) accepted the request to transfer the domain name to the group. In the decision, it was argued that “porcelain de Limoges”, as a distinctive sign, can benefit from protection against infringements provided that the applicant can justify:

  • The right to defend and manage the GI;
  • The similarity between the GI and the second level domain name at issue;
  • The private use of the domain name by the registrant, which deprives the GI right holder of any legitimate use and/or is likely to misappropriate or dilute the GI reputation.

The group in charge of the “Porcelaine de Limoges” managed to justify all these three points.

Under SYRELI, previous decisions were rendered in favor of the Champagne AOP, Muscadet AOP, and Grana Padano AOP. But this is its very first decision in favor of a craft GI. It is interesting to look at  this decision in light of the recent EU Regulation 2023/2411 on the protection of GIs for craft and industrial products (Art. 40, para. 3 and Art. 46), which will replace existing national laws in the EU Member States. In particular, art. 46 provides that the domain name registries established in the Union shall ensure that any alternative dispute resolution procedures for domain names recognise registered geographical indications as a right that can be invoked in those procedures.

For more information on GIs and Internet domain names, as well as on the relevant case law, please consult the dedicated page of our website.

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