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MEMO/05/457

Brussels, 1 December 2005

.eu, Europe’s Own Internet Domain: Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Top Level Domain?

A domain name is used in the Internet to identify particular web pages. Every domain name has a suffix that indicates the Top Level Domain (TLD) to which it belongs. The TLD is the part of an internet domain name which can be found to the right of the last point.

For example, ".int" is currently the TLD in: http://europa.eu.

TLDs are also obviously an important part of e-mail addresses. For example:

some.body@cec.eu.int

".int," is one of the so-called “generic” TLDs and is reserved for use by international organizations. The other generic TLDs include .com, .net, .info, .org, etc.

There are also many country code top level domains (ccTLDs) such as .uk, .de, and .fr. Each TLD is associated with a particular registry which registers the names associated with the TLD.

What is .eu?

“.eu” is a new Top Level Domain (TLD). It will not replace the existing national country code TLDs in the EU, but will complement them and give users the option of having a pan-European internet identity for their ‘internet presence’ – generally web sites and e-mail addresses.

Any individual resident in the EU or any organization or company established in the EU will be able to register a name under the .eu TLD. European law and the jurisdiction of European courts will apply.

The creation of .eu was decided at the Lisbon Council in 2000 to stress the importance that Europe gives to the Information Society and to electronic commerce as instruments to enhance Europe’s competitiveness.

Why create .eu?

The purpose of this TLD is to give European citizens and industry a safer place in cyberspace.

For citizens, it will provide a place in cyberspace, in which their rights as consumers and individuals are protected by European rules, standards, and courts.

For firms, it will enhance their internet visibility within and beyond the EU single market, advertise their pan-European outlook and provide greater certainty as to the law. Firms wishing to take advantage of the single market have until now been obliged to either to base their internet presence in one country or to create web sites in each of the EU countries in which they operate. This should foster electronic commerce and boost economic competitiveness and growth.

Is Europe creating its “own internet”?

Certainly not. The Internet is a global infrastructure and a cornerstone of worldwide exchange of ideas and commerce. Europe’s Top Level Domain “.eu” will therefore become part of the worldwide family of internet Top Level Domains and has been created in close coordination with the non-profit organisation Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which manages the domain name system worldwide.

If you view the internet as the global village, then “.eu” is just another street added to it. We of course hope that it will soon become a big boulevard but any European user is of course free to use any other street, just as internet surfers from around the globe can use the new street that is called .eu.

To ensure smooth progress on the new street and on all the other streets, ICANN and the Commission agreed on the creation of the .eu TLD prior to the adoption of the EU rules on .eu. On 21 March 2005, ICANN officially recognized the Leuven-based organisation EURid, the body selected by the Commission, as the body appointed by the European Union to run the .eu TLD for the next five years. Thereafter, the .eu TLD was put in the root on 2 May 2005.

How do you pronounce “.eu”?

That’s the choice of the speaker and depends on the language: dot-eu in English, point-eu en français, Punkt-EU auf Deutsch, punto-eu in italiano, and so on.

Pourquoi “.eu” et non pas “.ue » ?

To keep things short when the European Union went online over a decade ago, rather than use something lengthy such as “European Union” or “Union européenne”, the Latin name “Europa” was chosen for the server. This has worked well. The name for the common currency in, at present, 12 Member States, is even shorter: “Euro”. When something even shorter was needed for the new Top Level Domain, “.eu” seemed the obvious choice: From Europa to Euro to “.eu”.

When will the first .eu name be on line?

The EU Registry, EURid, has been using its .eu domain name (www.eurid.eu) for some months already.

Applications filed during the “sunrise” period must be validated (i.e. it has to be confirmed that the applicant has a prior right) and several weeks may therefore pass before the first domain names begin to appear online.

Who runs .eu?

While the European Commission, together with the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, has created the legal framework for “.eu” by means of EU legislation, the .eu top level domain is managed and operated by a private, not-for-profit Registry, EURid. It was created by the three national registries of Belgium, Italy and Sweden and selected by the Commission following an open call for expressions of interest.

Applications to register domain names must be made not to EURid itself, but to one of its accredited registrars. A list of all registrars and the languages in which registration is offered, can be found on: http://list.eurid.eu/registrars/

During the registration process registrars ask end users for various contact and technical information keep records of the contact information and submit the technical information to a central directory known as the Registry.

The registry then inserts this information into a centralized database and enables it to be placed in Internet zone files so that domain names can be found around the world via the World Wide Web and E-mail. End users are also required to enter a registration contract with the registrar, which sets forth the terms under which registrations are accepted and maintained.

When can I register a .eu name?

From 7 December 2005, but the first four months are reserved for holders of trademarks, public bodies or holders of other “prior rights” (see sunrise section).

Registration for “everybody” begins on 7 April 2006.

How much will it cost?

This is a matter for the Registry (EurID), but also for the registrars in Member States. The EURid website already lists hundreds of registrars who compete with each other to register names. Customers can therefore shop around to find the best deal on price, quality, and services offered. The .eu Regulation stipulates that the Registry will be a non-profit organization and that any fees that the Registry charges the registrars must relate to costs incurred. For further information concerning the cost of domain name registration visit EURid on http://www.eurid.eu/.

Registering domain names under .eu should not be very expensive. The Registry will make a basic €10 charge to cover administration costs. However, during the Sunrise period the fees will be higher. The fee for applications filed by public bodies will be €35; €45 for trademark holders and €85 for applications based on other rights. Registrars will add their profit margin, which should reflect the level and quality of the service they provide.

Offers made by the registrars suggest that the average fee for an application during the first phase of the sunrise period in Europe would be about €80-100. During the second sunrise phase, the fee is likely to rise to about €140, then fall to a mere €25-30 for applications filed after the sunrise period.

The reason why registration during sunrise (the first 4 months) will be somewhat more expensive than during general registration (after 6 April), is that the cost of verifying supporting documents for trademarks and other prior rights will be passed on to applicants.

In any case, end users are advised to check carefully the offers of the registrars, because prices and services may differ substantially. We are in any event confident that applicants should be able to find the registrar that best meets their needs and budget.

How to register a .eu domain name?

Domain names can be registered through registrars. These are commercial companies accredited by the Registry that compete with each other. There are more than 750 registrars all over the world.

Who can register a .eu domain name?

Anybody who lives in the European Union plus companies, organisations, businesses that are established in the EU (e.g. have a branch office in a Member State). Nationality of an EU Member State is not a prerequisite.

May I register a “.eu” name if I live in Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Norway?

Not yet, but the EU and the EEA have begun discussion with a view to extending the scope of the .eu Top Level Domain to these three countries.

Businesses from these three countries could apply for a .eu domain name already now if they are established in an EU country (e.g. if they have a branch office in the EU).

May I register a “.eu” name if I live in Bulgaria, Romania, or Turkey?

Not until these countries become EU Member States or some other arrangement has been negotiated to extend the scope of the .eu Top Level Domain to these countries.

Businesses from these three countries could apply for a .eu domain name now if they are established in an EU country (e.g. if they have a branch office in the EU).

Has the Commission done anything to prevent abusive registrations?

Yes. It is precisely to prevent such registrations that the sunrise period was established.

How does the "sunrise” period work?

Prior to the start of the registrations under .eu, there will be a "sunrise period" which will allow holders of certain rights (e.g. trademarks, geographical indications, copyright) to apply to register the corresponding .eu domain name before the registration of domain names is open for the wide public without restrictions. The sunrise period will take place in two phases each lasting two months.

During phase 1 (7 December 2005 to 6 February 2006), only registered Community or national trademarks, geographical indications and the names of public bodies may be registered by the holders or licensees of prior rights on those names or the public bodies.

During phase 2 (7 February to 6 April 2006), the names that can be registered in phase 1 as well as names based on all other prior rights, in so much as they are recognized under Community law or the national law of an EU Member State.

Registration will be open to anyone established in the EU from 7 April 2006.

Applications must be submitted via an accredited registrar. During the sunrise period, applicants have 40 days to provide proof of the prior right – otherwise these names will be released and made available for others to register on a first-come-first served basis when general registration begins.

In the event of conflict with the registration of a given name recourse may be had either to the courts or to a streamlined Alternative Dispute Resolution procedure to be implemented by the Registry after consultation with the Commission.

The “first come first served” principle will apply to any applications received during the initial 4- month period and beyond. Therefore, if two applicants have a prior right to the same name, the Registry will register the application that it received first. The same principle will apply once the Registry opens its doors to everyone from 7 April 2006.

All applications, during sunrise and after, have to be made through one of the accredited registrars. The list can be found in the web site of the Registry http://list.eurid.eu/registrars/ListRegistrars.htm?lang=en.

Administrative rules on how to register domain names are laid down in the Registry’s registration policy. The registration policy, rules, terms and conditions and guidelines can all be found on the Registry web site - http://www.eurid.eu/en/launch/index_html.

What is exactly a public body (for the first wave of sunrise)?

According to the .eu regulations, public bodies include national and local governments, governmental bodies, authorities, organisations and bodies governed by public law and international and intergovernmental organisations.

These public bodies may ask to register their names. Public bodies that are responsible for governing a particular geographic territory (e.g. city council or regional authority), may register the complete name of the territory for which they are responsible (e.g. the city council of Antwerp may apply to register www.antwerp.eu).

In the absence of a European definition of public body for the purposes of .eu, the decision of what a public body is will always be based on the applicable national law.

Can you give some examples of prior right holders and prior rights?

Holders of prior rights are those persons who have a right over a given name and that, according to the .eu regulations, may apply for a .eu domain name during the sunrise period.

The Registry web site provides comprehensive explanation of what is considered a prior right and how to prove its existence.

A few more specific examples:

Trade mark: the PSA group has a trade mark right to the name “Peugeot” and therefore it may apply to register this name during the sunrise period.

Public bodies: the Société des Transports Intercommunaux Bruxellois (STIB) or the mayor of Madrid are also considered to have prior rights to register “stib.eu” or “Madrid.eu” respectively.

Geographical indications or designations of origin: the board of producers of Rioja wine, also have a prior right for the registration of “rioja.eu”.

Unregistered trade marks: persons who have used a name in the commerce for sufficient time and can prove that such a name has acquired sufficient distinctiveness as to become an unregistered trademark, may apply to register such names during the first phase of the sunrise period.

Trade names, company names, business identifiers: the proprietor of, for instance, the bakery around the corner may apply to register the name of the business where this name is protected in its Member State, for instance by its listing in the commercial register.

Family names: registration of family names may be requested during the second phase of the sunrise period insofar as they are protected under the national law of their holders.

Distinctive titles of protected literary and artistic works: Ms. J.K. Rowling could be considered to have a right to register the name “Harry Potter” under .eu.

Where different persons may have rights to a given name which, for instance, is at the same time a trade mark, the first-come, first-served principle applies.

Why has the system taken several years to set up?

For a legal framework that needs the approval of both Parliament and Council, a time span of at least two years is quite normal. The Commission has also taken the time to seek the advice of the EU citizens and industry at every stage of this project. This has included consultations before and after drafting the regulations, on the shape of the registration policy and on how best to ensure that the alternative dispute resolution system works.

Furthermore, the European Union has sought to create a system with the highest possible degree of certainty as to the law and protection for consumers. This has entailed creating new tools not previously tested by any other TLD (i.e. a sunrise with two phases that accepts non-registered rights or family names).

What exactly has the EU done to create the .eu TLD?

The milestones of the .eu project were:

  • a public consultation by the Commission and two communications to the Council and the European Parliament in 2000,
  • a European Parliament and Council Regulation in 2002,
  • a call for expressions of interest and the official selection of the Registry (2002 & 2003),
  • a Commission Regulation on the Public Policy Rules and the signature of the agreement between the Commission and the selected Registry in 2004, and
  • the delegation of the .eu TLD from ICANN to EURid, the adoption of the registration policy in consultation with stakeholders (including rules for the sunrise and the alternative dispute resolution) and the launch of the Sunrise period in 2005.

What’s the legal basis for the .eu TLD?

  • EC Regulation 733/2002 (22 April 2002), established that the new TLD should be managed and operated by a private, non-profit organization known as the .eu Registry. EURid, a consortium of Belgian, Italian and Swedish organizations, was chosen to be the .eu Registry in May 2003, following a call for expressions of interest (http://www.eurid.org)
  • EC Regulation 874/2004 (28 April 2004), lays down public policy rules on issues like speculative and abusive registrations of domain names, intellectual property and other rights, issues of language and geographical concepts, and the extra-judicial settlement of conflicts.
  • On 21 March 2005 the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which manages the worldwide domain name system, formally recognized EURid as the body appointed by the European Union the European Union to run the .eu TLD for the next five years. The .eu TLD was put in the internet root on 2 May 2005.

When is the Commission changing to .eu?

The Europa server is scheduled to be fully switched to the new Top Level Domain on 7 April 2006. Email addresses will follow a few weeks or months later. Old and new addresses will continue to work side-by-side for at least one year.

How can I become an accredited registrar?

Companies interested in becoming a .eu registrar will have to sign a registrar agreement with the Registry. Please see

http://www.eurid.eu/en/registrarInfo/copy_of_index_html

What is the Alternative Dispute Resolution procedure?

In many cases, the cost of settling disputes between consumers and businesses via the courts greatly outweighs the economic value of the transaction concerned. This, together with the time required, makes judicial settlement an impractical option. Alternative means of resolving disputes have therefore been developed in many sectors.

The legal framework for the registration of domain names under .eu includes an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedure and lays down clear rules for implementing it. The .eu ADR is modelled on the ADR system currently applied by the World Intellectual Property Organization to solve disputes concerning domain names registered in .com, .net, .org and in a number of national top level domains (ccTLDs).

The .eu ADR system is based on recovery of costs, provides adequate procedural guaranties for the parties concerned and applies without prejudice to any court proceeding.

What kind of disputes can be solved through the ADR?

The ADR will be available for disputes arising during both the sunrise period and the “ordinary” registration period that will open for all applicants after the end of the sunrise period. An ADR may be initiated either:

  • where a domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a name in respect of which a right is recognised or established by national and/or Community law, provided that this name:
  • (a) has been registered by its holder without rights or legitimate interest in the name; and
  • (b) it has been registered or is being used in bad faith, or
  • against decisions taken by the Registry.

The ADR procedure is described on http://www.arbcourt.cz/adreu/


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