But Mr. Frydman eventually found himself drawn into an existential legal battle: In 2015, the French government, which had previously applauded the site, accused France.com of infringing on the nation’s right to the French name.
The government won several domestic judgments, most recently in September 2017, ordering, among other things, that France.com turn over the domain, with a penalty of 150 euros (about $180) for each day that it failed to do so.
But, in a lawsuit filed in Virginia this April, Mr. Frydman argued that not only did the French government lack the authority to seize the domain, but it also violated several American laws.
In the suit, which was reported by the technology publication Ars Technica on Sunday, Mr. Frydman accused the French government and Atout France, the French government’s tourism agency, of cybersquatting, hijacking his domain name, expropriation of property, infringing on his trademark, and unfair competition.
He also argued that since both France.com and the domain registrar, Web.com, are American businesses, the domain is property squarely within the United States.
Over the past two years, both Mr. Frydman and Mr. Krishnamurthy repeatedly made that point by email to Matthew McClure, Web.com’s chief legal officer, but the company refused to lift a lock it had placed on the domain when the wrangling began in 2015. It also ignored Mr. Krishnamurthy’s request that it at least warn them if it transfers the domain to France, which it did in March.
“They took everything away from me without notice,” Mr. Frydman said. “I’m 56 years old and, to tell you the truth, this is just incredibly shameful.”