'.eu' TLD closer to reality

European Union

The European Commission and EURid, the manager of the '.eu' top-level domain (TLD), have at last agreed on and signed the service concession contract to operate the '.eu' registry. The only remaining hurdles before the sunrise period can be launched seem to be the signature of a formal contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and the accreditation of registrars. The sunrise period is now expected to start next Spring.

The registration of '.eu' domain names should be simple and cost effective. Moreover, '.eu' will enable companies to obtain a domain name registration covering all EU countries while present registration conditions remain restricted in registries in a number of EU countries. For instance, a French company that does not have subsidiaries in Spain cannot at the moment register 'mydomain.es' but will be eligible to register 'mydomain.eu'. It is interesting to note, however, that while it is sufficient for a natural or legal person to have its seat in either the European Union, or in a country party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property or the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights to register a Community trademark, only undertakings or organizations established in the European Union or natural persons resident in the European Union will be eligible to register '.eu' domain names pursuant to Community Regulation 733/2002. Companies from countries outside the European Union wishing to register '.eu' domain names will thus have to take appropriate steps with their EU subsidiaries and/or create ad hoc companies.

One of the challenges for EURid will be translating its website into all the official EU languages. It may also start offering '.eu' registrations on a full multilingual basis (eg, including Greek or Scandinavian alphabets or French accents).

From the trademark owners' perspective, it remains to be seen what rights a '.eu' registration will confer and under which jurisdiction these rights will fall.

The implementation of the '.eu' TLD may not be a smooth process, but its creation is to be welcomed. Future registrants would be well advised to begin reviewing what they will need to register under the '.eu' TLD, and whether and how this will affect their national TLD filing policy.

For a background discussion on the '.eu' TLD, see PPR clear way for implementation of '.eu' TLD.

Marc-Roger Hirsch, Cabinet Hirsch & Associés, Paris

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