One and two-character '.ie' domain names coming soon

Ireland

The Irish domain name registry, IE Domain Name Registry Limited (IEDR), has announced that it is proposing to allow for the registration of one and two-character ‘.ie’ domain names. According to IEDR, the proposed release of one and two-character ‘.ie’ domain names will allow for "up to 676 possible two-letter domain name combinations".

However, before the release of these shorter ‘.ie’ domain names, IEDR is running a public consultation period for 30 days, from June 9 2015 until July 9 2015.

During the public consultation period, IEDR is seeking the views and feedback from interested stakeholders, including registrants, registrars, the wider internet community, including representatives from the business community, public authorities and consumer organisations, concerning the proposed introduction of one and two-character ‘.ie’ domain names, as well as the proposed release mechanism for these shorter domain names.

IEDR proposes to release one and two-character domain names for registration in three phases:

  1. the sunrise period;

  2. the landrush period; and

  3. general availability.

The sunrise period will be restricted to trademark holders. In order to participate in the sunrise period, the trademark must be an exact match of the domain name being applied for. Furthermore, participation in the sunrise period is limited to the following registered trademarks:

  • Irish trademarks;

  • European Community trademarks; and

  • international trademarks affording protection in Ireland or those held by a company which shows an Irish registrant address on the trademark database.

In order to be considered eligible for the sunrise period, the trademark must have been registered before July 30 2014.

In the event that there are competing applications for the same domain name submitted during the sunrise period, IEDR proposes to settle such contentions via an auction. IEDR has proposed that the sunrise period should run for a period of 30 days.

The landrush period will be open to all applicants that meet the registration requirements for ‘.ie’ domain names, namely that they can demonstrate a real and substantive connection with Ireland and that they have a legitimate claim to the applied for domain name.

In the event that there are competing applications for the same domain name submitted during the landrush period, IEDR proposes to settle such contentions via an auction. IEDR has proposed that the landrush period should run for a period of 30 days and will start after the completion of the sunrise period. Although not stated, it is assumed that completion of the sunrise period means that landrush will begin after all the sunrise applications have been processed and domain names have been assigned to the applicants.

General availability will start upon the completion of the landrush period. Applications made during general availability will be dealt with on a first-come, first-served basis. All applicants will need to meet the registration requirements for ‘.ie’ domain names, namely that they can demonstrate a real and substantive connection with Ireland and that they have a legitimate claim to the applied for domain name.

Once the consultation period has ended, IEDR will publish its findings and summarise the intended course of action in relation to the proposed release of one and two-character ‘.ie’ domain names.

The availability of two-character domain names across ccTLDs is becoming commonplace and includes ‘.de’ (Germany), ‘.eu’ (European Union), ‘.nl’ (Netherlands), ‘.fr’ (France) and ‘.uk’ (United Kingdom).

As such, the release of one and two-character domain names in the ‘.ie’ domain name space would follow this recent trend. Indeed, IEDR CEO David Curtin, commenting on one and two-letter domain names becoming available, said:

Many of our sister national domain registries across Europe and the world have already been through this process; all experienced strong demand, often coupled with an intense bidding process. The UK’s recent experience suggests we can expect similar demand here.

David Taylor and Tony Vitali, Hogan Lovells LLP, Paris

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