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.EU Domain Names

 .EU Domain Names


The new .eu domain extension is due to be launched on 7 December 2005 by EURID, the European Registry for Internet Domains. The .eu extension has been called "the Community Trade Mark of the domain name system" and is believed to be as important as having a ".com" in Europe.


However, even though there are eligibility criteria restricting the ownership of a .eu domain extension to undertakings, organisations and natural persons established or resident within the EU, there is still likely to be strong competition to secure the more desirable names.


However, the owner of a trade mark within the EU which meets the residency criteria (or which has granted a licence to such a party in the EU) can use its IP rights to get ahead in the queue by taking advantage of the "Sunrise Period". This is a designated four-month period in which public bodies and holders of prior rights such as trade marks can snap-up the domain name which corresponds to their existing right before EURID opens the .eu domain to everyone.


There are different tiers of priority depending on the nature of the existing right:


PHASE 1 SUNRISE - Holders/Licensees of Registered Community Trade Marks (CTMs), national registered trade marks within Member States of the EU and Public Bodies - from 7 December 2005


PHASE 2 SUNRISE - In addition to the above, holders of other "prior rights" which are protected under the laws of a particular Member State e.g. unregistered trade marks - from 7 February 2006


OPEN REGISTRATION (or "LAND RUSH") - First come, first served - from 7 April 2006


Within each category, there will be a race between the Registrars accredited by EURID to register the names with which they have been charged. Although a registered right does not guarantee that the corresponding domain name can be acquired before anyone with a competing interest, it is a head start which could make all the difference. EURID will be choosing the Registries at random and to make the chances of securing a particular domain name even better, one can make several applications and apply through more than one Registry.


A party that is serious about establishing a European business identity should ensure that their application is ready to file as soon as appropriate.