Cybersquatting likely under proposed law on ccTLDs

Finland

The Finnish Parliament is examining a new act that will amend the regulation of the country-code top-level domain (ccTLD), '.fi'. The act is expected to come into force during the first half of this year and will bring the following changes:

  • Second-level domain names will no longer have to be identical to an existing Finnish registered name, such as a trademark or company name;

  • Generic names such as 'movies.fi' and 'store.fi' (and their equivalents in Finnish) will be registerable; and

  • The Finnish Communications and Regulations Authority, which handles applications for domain names, will no longer conduct searches prior to registration.

While cybersquatting cases are rare under the current governance regime, these are likely to increase significantly when the new, more liberal act comes into force. Therefore, the proposed law provides that (i) the Communication and Regulations Authority will resolve cybersquatting disputes, and (ii) the authority's decisions may be challenged with an appeal to the Administrative Court of Helsinki.

Two elements of the current regime will remain: (i) foreign legal entities will still be required to have a presence in Finland (through a subsidiary or branch) to be eligible to register ccTLDs; and (ii) individuals will continue to be prohibited from registering names in the '.fi' domain space.

Martin von Willebrand, HH Partners, Helsinki

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