As we advised in our April 6, 2005 On the Subject the new top-level domain for the European Union, .eu, will be available for registration in the coming days for qualified applicants. A two-part restricted registration period (the “sunrise period”) will begin December 7, 2005 and will precede the open registration period.
The sunrise period provides owners of existing rights, such as trademark owners, an opportunity for registration before the domain is made generally available. It is similar to the process by which .info and .biz domain names were rolled out. It is important to note that if two different parties with rights to a trademark apply for the same .eu domain name, the registration will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. EURid, the registry operating this new domain, will not attempt to determine who has superior rights. Accordingly, we encourage early registration if you qualify and are interested in obtaining a .eu domain name. Early registration will also help you avoid protracted and costly proceedings to reclaim .eu domain names registered by cybersquatters.
In order to qualify for registration during the first phase of the sunrise period, non-public body applicants must own or license a registered European Community (EC) trademark or national trademark in one of the EU Member States. This should prevent cybersquatters from registering domains with others’ trademarks. In order to qualify for registration in the second phase of the sunrise period, which begins on February 7, 2006, the applicant must have prior rights in a trademark or name, such as a corporate name, trade name or unregistered trademark. Immediately after the sunrise period, open registration will commence on April 7, 2006 for any entity that has the requisite geographic nexus to the EC, regardless of prior rights.
All applicants, regardless of the registration period, must have a geographic connection to the EC in one of the following ways:
- An organization with a registered office, central administration or principal place of business within the European Community
- An organization established within the EC without prejudice to the application of national law
- A natural person resident within the European Community
If your company does not have a principal place of business within the EC and, thus, would not fall under category one above, then category two should cover those businesses that operate in Europe through offices other than their head office.
However, if your company does not fall into category one or two above, but you own EC or national trademarks, you will need to license the trademark to a European entity, who may then apply for a corresponding domain registration during the sunrise period. When a licensee successfully applies for an .eu domain registration, the domain name will be owned by the licensee, not the trademark owner. Thus, for the trademark owner (the licensor) to retain control, the license agreement must be carefully drafted. The license agreement may be restricted to use of the trademark solely for domain name registration purposes.
The documentation requirements for registering during the sunrise period are quite detailed. As a result, we recommend you begin the registration process with an accredited .eu registrar as soon as possible.