Legal case library


Registry liability / Content-related rulings
Denmark DK Hostmaster A/S v X A/S 2021
The Supreme Court judgment concerns (i) whether an injunction to suspend/block a domain name in a civil case can generally be directed against a registry and (ii) whether such an injunction could be directed against Punktum dk Specifically. The Supreme Court found that injunctions on suspending/blocking domain names can generally be directed against registries, given that Punktum dk contributes technically to a registrant's website being accessed by internet users, and thus to the registrant being able to disseminate the content of the website. It is possible to issue an injunction to Punktum dk if a website with allegedly illegal content can be accessed via a domain name administered by Punktum dk, however, injunctions should first be directed at the infringer or other technical intermediaries. In the case in question, the web hosting provider had already removed the relevant website. Since the website could no longer be accessed, an injunction could not be directed against Punktum dk – even if the website could be moved to another web hosting provider and the domain name could thus again be used to direct internet users to the website in question. The ruling is available in Danish.
Latvia Case No SKC-132/2021 2021
The owner of a website and the holder of the domain name to which the website is linked are two independent types of subjects that can be two different persons. The responsibility of both of these subjects is separable; that is, there is no reason to believe that the domain name holder is responsible for the website's content as the website's owner. In cases where the owner of the website is recognized as an intermediary service provider within the meaning of the Law on Information Society Services, he is obliged to effectively prevent the violation of personal rights caused by the information made public by its users on the website in question, if he becomes aware of such a fact. In addition, as soon as notification is received about the illegal nature of the disclosed information, the intermediary service provider must immediately take steps to delete the stored information or deny access to it. Failure to fulfill this obligation is a prerequisite for the website owner's responsibility. Actual knowledge of the violation or the lack of immediate and appropriate action is prerequisite for the responsibility of the domain name holder, after he has obtained information about the illegal nature of the information published on the website. However, the domain name holder is subject to lower requirements to verify the illegality of disputed information than the provider of the relevant information service. Likewise, the domain name holder's obligation to deny access to offensive information is limited to the obligation to restrict the website owner's opportunity to use the relevant domain name if the domain name holder cannot influence the website's content. When acquiring the right to use a domain name, the acquirer does not take over the obligations of the previous holder of the domain name, resulting from infringements of other persons' rights. The ruling is available in Latvian.
Austria 5HTP 2006 The plaintiff holds the trademark for '5 HTP'. They have sued the registrant of the '5htp.at' domain and NIC.AT. The Austrian Supreme Court holds that the registry cannot be held liable, since there was no trademark infringement which would have been obvious to a legal layman, hence the registry was correct not to intervene. The ruling is available in German.
Austria FPÖ 2001 The Austrian political party FPÖ held the domain 'fpoe.at'. Another registrant held the domain 'fpo.at', which mirrored the fpoe site, but linked to radical right-wing websites. The FPÖ, as plaintiffs, sought to prevent NIC.AT from making the domain 'fpo.at' available, and to hold them liable for any possible infringements. The Austrian Supreme Court held that NIC.AT can be held liable for the domain, but must first be made aware of infringements of rights, and that the violation must be clear. The domain 'fpo.at' cannot be barred from use. The ruling is available in German.
Germany r-e-y.de 2001 The applicant attempted to claim DENIC was liable as an accessory regarding a website which was circulating infringing content. The court held that DENIC cannot be held liable for content of the website. Click for case
Intellectual property rights
France piment-espelette.info 2023 The Court found that the registration and use of the domain name 'piment-espelette.info' represents a private appropriation of the "AOC" , and that the extension ".info" misleads consumers by implying that it is a general information site relating to the "AOC" Espelette chilli pepper, when this is not the case. The Court ruled that reserving this domain name constitutes a practice contrary to the principle of collective use of the "AOC" , which belongs to all authorised producers in a given region, and that such a sign cannot be monopolised by a single operator (whether or not it has been approved). This is a particularly important decision, given the development of online commerce and the need to protect designations. The case is available in French.
Finland onedrive.fi 2022
The domain name 'onedrive.fi' had been registered by A. Microsoft Corporation claimed the domain name for itself, basing its claim on previous international trademark registrations. Even though the international trademark registrations entered into force after the domain name had been registered by A, the Court took into account the trademarks' priority dates, which were before the domain name registration date. Based on this ruling, the domain name was later transferred to Microsoft Corporation. The ruling is available in Danish.
Sweden  The Pirate Bay  2017 The Swedish Supreme Court ruled that the right to a domain name constitutes ownership which can be confiscated. The Supreme Court came to the conclusion that the right to a domain name is an exclusive right, that a domain name can be an asset with an economic value, that a domain name can be transferred and that a domain name in some respects fulfils a function similar to that of a trading name. Therefore a domain name is to be regarded as a right of such a kind that constitutes property. The Supreme Court further stated that there are no principle hindrances to considering a domain name as an instrumentality in violation of the Swedish Copyright Act. Click for case overview
Finland pamliitto.fi 2016
If an '.fi' domain name is similar to a protected name or trademark owned by another party, the domain name may be transferred to the owner of the protected name/trademark at the owner's request, but only if the clear intent of registering the domain name was to benefit from the protected name/trademark or to cause damage. The domain name 'pamliitto.fi' was not identical with the claimant's protected name, but was similar to it. The Court took into account the website's contents, which included references to the claimant, links to other websites and banner ads. Based on the website's contents, the Court ruled that the clear intent of registering the domain name was to benefit from the claimant's protected name. This was the first time the Court included website content in its ruling. The ruliing is available in Finnish.
Sweden F.N vs IIS - The Pirate Bay - appeals court decision 2016 The Court of Appeal’s opinion means that the rights of F.N to the domain names: thepiratebay.se and piratebay.se are forfeit, and that the prosecutor’s claim for forfeiture of the Foundation’s rights to the same domain names should not be sustained. Furthermore, no legal grounds exist that would allow, in conjunction with or instead of confiscation from F.N, an order requiring the Foundation to deregister and cease allocating the domain names. In other words, the District Court’s judgement against the Foundation and F.N is affirmed. Click for case
Sweden Piratebay 2015 Case regarding confiscation of the domain names thepiratebay.se and piratebay.se, directed against the domain holder and .SE as the registry. The court came to the conclusion that the domain names shall be confiscated from the domain holder, but the the claim against .SE was dismissed. In summary, the court found that a domain name is property possible to confiscate under the rule of the Copyright Act. .SE was considered to act with intent when furthered violations of the Copyright Act and therefore contributing to the crimes. But the court stated further that the requirements for the assessment in this present case are specific and due to jurisprudence theories on freedom from responsibility with a basis in social adequacy, .SE actions was considered to be lawful. Open Judgement
Finland TV Kaista 2014 The District Prosecutor demanded Ficora to terminate (=temporary removal from the root .fi) a domain name, because according to the prosecutor there was content on the webpages that infringed copyright. Ficora refused to terminate the domain name in spite of a specific section in the Domain Name Act that would allow Ficora to terminate a domain name " if there is probable cause to suspect that the domain name is used with a purpose of committing a crime". The prosecutor did not appeal against Ficora's decision. The decision contains a description of the Finnish regulation concerning the illegality of a domain name and regulation of web communications concerning illegal content. Click for case
UK Cartier v B Sky B 2014 Claimants owned a large number of UK trade marks and sought an injunction to block (or at least impede) access to certain web sites advertising and selling counterfeit goods against the 5 main retail ISPs in the UK. Further details and case document
UK  Toth vs Emirates 2012 Summary to be added
Click for case
Belgium Piratebay 2011 The appellant is a Belgian professional association whose corporate aim is to fight piracy and counterfeiting in the name and on behalf of its members (parties with interests in the entertainment sector: film, music, and computer games) on Belgian territory. The respondents are two Internet providers that provide their subscribers with access to websites, including the websites of “The Pirate Bay”. This latter website was founded in 2004 and helps Internet users to download film and music files. Click for case
Norway Nordlandsposten 2009 Nordlandsposten.no - the name of a famous newspaper in Norway. Two newpapers merged and took a new name - forgetting to keep the domain names of the two old ones. The name of one of them was Nordlandsposten - and the popular name continued to be used by people even if the name was changed. The problem was that another guy registered the domain name and created a rival newspaper, and was actually a parasite on the reputation of the old one. Click for case
Australia Nominet v Diverse Internet 2004 Nominet, the national registry for all .uk domain names, won an Australian court battle against two men who used information stolen from the registry's database to send misleading domain name notices to thousands of its registrants. Click for case
Serbia cocacola.co.yu 2003 Subject of the case was domain name cocacola.co.yu. Company Coca Cola sued registrant of cocacola.co.yu who used their trademark for registration of domain name and put some pornographic content on the web site. As a sued parties, Registry and hosting provider was also included in this case. Click for case
Domain name law
France Décision n° 2010-45 QPC 2010 AFNIC was informed of the Constitutional Court’s decision that considered unconstitutional article L.45 of the French Electronic Communications Act, which is the legal framework of domain name management in France.AFNIC highlights that the Constitutional Court differs the effects of its decision until July 1st 2011. AFNIC is pleased to remark that the Consitutional Court took the trouble to underline that past decisions as well as decisions to be taken until July 1st 2011 cannot be challenged on the basis of its decision.Finally, AFNIC notes that this decision is focused on the way the Parliament set the legal framework for domain name policies. The Court considers that, while Intellectual Property is taken into account, Freedom of Communication and Freedom of Trade are not. The decision’s motives do not challenge the appointment of AFNIC as the registry for the .fr country-code Top Level Domain (ccTLD). Consequently, the current policies of the .fr ccTLD will remain unchanged until a new legal framework is adopted. Click for case
Poland NASK vs. Seczkowski/Wis 2008 Since some provisions of telecommunication law apply to a domain name contract, it is not regulated by the provisions concerning "an order contract" in the Civil Code. Due to that fact a registry claim to receive payment for direct registration of a domain name is not limited by lapse of time determined in the Civil Code for "an order contract" (2 years), but general claim limitation by lapse of time (3 years) should be applied. Click for case
Legal nature of a domain name
Canada Tucows vs Renner(Canada) 2011 The Ontario Court of Appeal held, for the first time, that domain names can be considered "intangible personal property," and the registrant of a domain name located in Ontario may successfully bring a proceeding in an Ontario court. In particular, the Court held that service of a Statement of Claim outside of Ontario by the owner of a domain name registrant based in Toronto was valid in accordance with Rule 17.02(a) of the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure. This case is of particular importance as it will facilitate the ability of a domain name registrant with a place of business in Ontario to have a domain name dispute heard by an Ontario court. However, this potential procedural advantage is contingent on the ability to establish a sufficient connection between the registrant and Ontario. Click for case
Domain name policy
Norway Elineweb vs Uninett Norid 2012 About the co.no domain: The category "co" is used as an official category domain within several other top-level domains, e.g. co.uk. This is not the case in Norway.Sør-Trøndelag District Court resolved the lawsuit between Elineweb and Norid in a judgement made on 28 June 2012. The judgement finds in favour of Norid on several principal issues regarding the domain name policy and our right to add co.no to the list of domain names that cannot be registered or transferred.Click for case
Seizure of domain names
Norway HR-2009-1692 2009 The issue in this case is whether domain names can be made subject to seizure (and later confiscation) pursuant to the Norwegian Criminal Procedure Act and the General Civil Penal Code. The domain names in the case had been used for possible criminal activities. Even if the Web pages would still have been available through the IP address after the domain names were removed from operation, their availability would be substantially reduced. It was therefore not unnatural to regard the association of the domain names to Web sites with criminal content as the instrument for a criminal offence. The court ruled that the holder of a registered domain name has an exclusive right of use to an asset that may have financial value. The fact that the registration itself does not have any significance for rights that are already established, for example to a trademark, does not change this.The similarity that domain names have to other assets such as trademarks supports the premise that domain names can be seized. In addition to this comes the need to be able to stop a domain name from functioning to prevent criminal offences from continuing. Norid does not undertake any control of the content of Web sites; nor does it have any mandate to react to Web sites that may appear to violate the law; it is up to the police and the judicial system to do this.The court also confirmed that that domain names "are deemed to be liable to confiscation “ Click for case
Switzerland Switch & SwitchPlus 2012 SWITCH Registrar can base its activities on the commercial freedom of action. SWITCH with a public mandate for being registry and registrar can base itself on the commercial freedom of action regarding his registrar activities in the public mandate and its private activities as a registrar (switchplus ag). SWITCH is only bound to the fundamental rights like transparence and equal treatment (of the competitor) regarding it's registry services towards the registrars and as a registrar with a public mandate towards the end consumer.
Click for case
France Article 45 2010  This decision is focused on the way the Parliament set the legal framework for domain name policies. The Court considers that, while Intellectual Property is taken into account, Freedom of Communication and Freedom of Trade are not. The decision’s motives do not challenge the appointment of AFNIC as the registry for the .fr country-code Top Level Domain (ccTLD). Consequently, the current policies of the .fr ccTLD will remain unchanged until a new legal framework is adopted. Click for case
To be defined / classified
Germany viagrabestellung.de 2003 Click for case