EURid unblocks 74,000 '.eu' domain names

European Union

As reported by World Trademark Law Report on July 26 2006, EURid, the registrar in charge of the '.eu' domain name extension, had blocked 74,000 '.eu' domain names and issued legal proceedings against 400 '.eu' registrars for breach of contract (see EURid suspends 74,000 '.eu' domain names on suspicion of warehousing). EURid decided to take such action because many of the 74,000 domain names in question were registered by only three registrants: Ovidio Limited, Fausto Limited and Gabino Limited, about which very little information was forthcoming. EURid therefore suspected that the registrants were merely a front for a number of registrars who were acting on their own account, rather than on behalf of genuine clients. 'Warehousing', or registering names to sell for a profit, is forbidden by the EURid registrar agreement.

On October 6 2006 EURid announced that it had been ordered by the Belgian court dealing with the case to unblock the 74,000 domain names. In view of the fact that the case is still ongoing, EURid has so far refused to comment.

For the time being, the reasoning of the court is not known, and the final judgment is eagerly awaited. In October 2004, the French registrar, AFNIC, blocked 4,465 '.fr' domain names for a period of three months on the grounds that the behaviour of the registrant ran contrary to the spirit of the AFNIC registration rules. The French Court went on to find in AFNIC's favour and so it will be interesting to see what the Belgian court ultimately decides.

Brand owners who may have been beaten to their desired names by Ovidio, Fausto or Gabino Limited would therefore be well advised to act quickly to recuperate them now that they are no longer blocked, especially in view of the future uncertainty.

David Taylor and Jane Seager, Lovells, Paris

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