Cabinet Beau de Loménie
"The internal regulations of the French Association for Internet naming in Cooperation (AFNIC) are approved as they define the system of dispute resolution." This is the text of the decree published in the Official Gazette of November 3rd, 2011 signed by the Minister in charge of electronic communications.
Named "SYRELI", the system will come into force on November 21st, 2011 for the ".fr" and ".re" extensions, and on December 6th, 2011 for geographical extensions for some other French territories.
Within the responsibility of the AFNIC and in application of Article L 45.6 of the Post and Telecommunication Code, this procedure is opened up to anyone demonstrating an interest to act (referred to as "Claimant") and who seeks the removal, or the transfer for its benefit, of a domain name falling under the prohibitions defined in Article L 45.2 of the same Code (see our Flash dated April 2011).
The aim of Syreli is to allow a quick, non-expensive, amicable resolution of conflicts in the field of domain names, when a third party having an interest to act, notably because he owns a trademark, considers that a domain name identical or similar to that trademark, was registered without any legitimate interest by someone acting in bad faith.
The SYRELI process begins only after an examiner in charge of administrative management of the request has duly verified that the submitted file is complete and ready to be examined. It is electronically notified to the registrant of the disputed domain name, who has a 21-day period to answer. The procedure is then examined by a committee of two permanent experts (and two substitutes) from the AFNIC, who have been appointed by the General Manager of the AFNIC, himself being a member. The decision must be made by a majority of the members, within 21 days following the expiration of the period granted to the registrant to respond to the rapporteur’s notification. Reasons are given for the decision, and it is notified to the parties by electronic means or in writing, and forwarded to the Registration Office. Whatever the decision is, the fees will be charged to the Claimant.
A judicial or extrajudicial procedure (arbitration or mediation) cannot be initiated in parallel. In such a case, the claimant's request is either rejected by the examiner in the examination phase of the request, or if the committee’s decision has already been issued, this decision will be suspended.
Pursuant to Article L 45.6, the procedure will not last more than two months, but it must be pointed out that the procedure is conducted in French: consequently, a certified translation by a sworn translator must be drawn up by the parties for all submitted documents that are not in French. Moreover, except in a case of force majeure, no deadline extension will be granted.
SYRELI applies to domain names reserved or renewed after July 1st, 2011. For domain names reserved or renewed up until July 1st, 2011, only the judicial route, arbitration or mediation is available if the claimant does not want to wait until next renewal.
As a consequence, the ADR procedure for .fr domain names previously managed by WIPO is now managed by the AFNIC. Although the rules governing this procedure are globally the same as the previous ones, it is nevertheless to be noted that the decisions within Syreli will not be rendered by independent panelists from a list established by WIPO, but by AFNIC employees. However, there is no doubt that because of its rapidity and practical aspect, this procedure – like its predecessor - will be a success, even though it cannot lead to the attribution of damages to the claimant.
News in brief: When the London Agreement came into force in France, it was not 100% clear to practitioners whether it was necessary to lodge French translations of EP(FR) patents drafted in English or German which had been granted before 1st May 2008 but maintained in amended form (following opposition) after that date. In practice the INPI (French Patent Office) refused to accept translations of this kind, but doubts remained as to whether or not this practice was sound. Indeed, Rolls-Royce appealed against a decision of the INPI which refused to accept a translation of this type. By a decision on November 2nd, 2011 the French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) has now removed the doubt on this point, confirming that such translations are not, in fact, necessary.