'.ee' domain name registration rules relaxed


The Estonian '.ee' domain name administrator has announced its plans to change the current '.ee' domain name registration rules. Currently there exist several requirements, which prevent many interested parties from securing their trademarks and company names under the '.ee' country-code top-level domain (ccTLD).

The current '.ee' registration rules can be summarized as follows:

  • '.ee' domain names can be registered only by local companies or natural persons registered for business in the Estonian Commercial Register;

  • there is a general rule that one domain name is allowed per person, and very few exceptions have been made;

  • working Internet Protocol addresses must be assigned to the domain name before registration;

  • the registration and maintenance of the domain name registration are free of charge; and

  • disputes in relation to unlawful domain name registration are subject to general civil court jurisdiction.

The proposed changes are as follows:

  • private persons will be allowed to apply for domain names;

  • multiple domain name registrations will be available to a single individual, without the need to apply for an exemption;

  • a registration and administration fee of between (approximately) €13 and €26 per year will be brought in; and

  • dispute resolution proceedings will be established.

The changes mean that far more trademark owners will be able to secure domain names under the '.ee' ccTLD. Many mark owners were unable to register '.ee' domain names due to the restrictive nature of the previous registration rules. There are currently about 43,000 registered domain names in Estonia; after the changes take effect the number is expected to grow to 100,000. However, relaxation of the rules may also have the effect of increasing levels of cybersquatting in the '.ee' domain space and IP owners will have to be more vigilant to protect their rights.

Almar Sehver, AAA Legal Services, Tallinn

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