President gives Domain Names Act the thumbs-up
The Finnish President has ratified the Domain Names Act, which was enacted by Parliament earlier this year. The new act will enter into force on September 1.
According to the act, names within the country-code top-level domain '.fi' may be granted only to Finnish legal entities or public corporations, or persons practising a profession and listed in the Finnish Trade Register. In practice, this means that foreign companies with no Finnish subsidiary need formal representation in Finland in order to register a '.fi' name. A branch office of a foreign company listed in the Trade Register will be treated as a Finnish legal entity for the purposes of the act. At present, the act does not allow for the registration of domain names by private persons. However, it seems likely that new legislation will be passed in the future to allow this.
The Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority (FICORA) is the body responsible for granting domain names. The criteria for registration are relatively broad; domain names must consist of at least two letters or numerals. The main limitations are that names may not contain expressions that are either (i) contrary to good practice or public order, or (ii) untruthful or misleading. Once granted, domain names are effective for three years; thereafter, the domain name may be renewed for additional three-year periods.
FICORA will no longer be expected to determine whether there may be a potential clash between a domain name registrant and a trademark holder, which is expected to speed up the application process. Instead, the onus is on the applicant to ensure that the desired domain name does not infringe the rights of any company or individual.
In order to minimize the effects of possible infringement, however, FICORA retains extensive authority. For example, at the request of the holder of a trademark or trade name, FICORA may temporarily deactivate or cancel a registered domain name if it has reason to believe that the domain name is a protected name or mark.
For background information on the act, see Cybersquatting likely under proposed law on ccTLDs.
Kimmo Rekola and Kristiina Vuori, Castrén & Snellman, Helsinki
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