'.eu' TLD set to go live in November

European Union

Almost four years after the first steps towards the implementation of a new '.eu' top-level domain (TLD) for the European Union were taken, the manager of the '.eu' TLD - the European Registry of Internet Domain Names (EURid) - has announced that '.eu' domain names will be available for public registration and use in November 2004. A sunrise period to allow trademark holders to register their marks will launch in September 2004.

EURid's announcement indicates that the EU Commission still needs to finalize, in consultation with the EU member states, certain provisions of the '.eu' Public Policy Rules (PPR). The PPR will set out in detail:

  • the requirements for registering a domain name;

  • the requirements for becoming an accredited registrar;

  • the requirements for registering in the sunrise period;

  • the domain names that will not be available for general registration; and

  • the alternative dispute resolution service available for the '.eu' TLD.

A decision on the final version of the PPR is expected later this month or in early March. EURid will then have to adapt its software and systems to the PPR and draft agreements accordingly. It hopes to complete this process by May. After the selection of a registrar, which is planned for June this year, EURid plans to publish the PPR and inform the public of the precise dates and procedures for registration.

It is expected that the registration process will start with a sunrise period to enable those with prior rights to a domain name to register it in advance. The sunrise period looks likely to be in two phases. Each phase will last for around two months. During phase one, holders of registered (possibly published) trademarks and public bodies will be able to register their domain names. During phase two, holders of other rights will also be able to apply. The sunrise period is expected to run from September to November 2004. After the conclusion of the sunrise period, the '.eu' TLD will go live and general registrations will begin. Registration is likely to be on a first come, first served basis.

It should be noted that only businesses established in the European Union or having their registered office (or principal place of business within the European Union) and natural persons who are resident in the European Union will qualify to register a '.eu' domain name.

Julia Meuser, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Hamburg

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