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Dot eu: Commissioner Reding pays first visit to managers of Europe’s new internet domain

European Commission - MEMO/06/332   18/09/2006

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MEMO/06/332

Brussels, 18 September 2006

Dot eu: Commissioner Reding pays first visit to managers of Europe’s new internet domain

Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding visited today (18 September 2006) EURid, the independent consortium managing the '.eu' domain name. Commissioner Reding was accompanied by several Members of the European Parliament. The purpose of the visit was to understand the way the new domain name registration system – that so far has attracted more than two million users – functions. EURid is located in Diegem, Brussels.

What is .eu?

.eu is Europe’s top level domain (TLD) name that has been available since 7 April 2006 to all companies and organisations established in the EU and to every citizen resident in the EU. It does not replace the existing national country code TLDs in the EU (such as .fr, .de, or .uk), but complements them and gives users the option of having a pan-European internet identity for their ‘internet presence’ – generally websites and e-mail addresses.

For citizens, this TLD is a place in cyberspace, in which their rights as consumers and individuals are protected by European rules, standards and courts.

For companies, a .eu TLD enhances their internet visibility within and beyond the EU single market, advertises their pan-European outlook and provides greater certainty as to the law, which should in turn foster electronic commerce and boost economic competitiveness and growth. Before '.eu', firms wishing to take advantage of the single market were obliged to either base their internet presence in one country or to create websites in each of the EU countries in which they operate.

Since 7 April 2006 anyone established in the European Union has been able to apply for '.eu' domain name (see IP/06/476). The right to apply for the registration of '.eu' names had been previously reserved to trademark holders and public bodies (from 7 December 2005 to 7 February 2006) and then had been extended to holders of other 'prior rights', such as company names or business identifiers (from 7 February to 7 April 2006).

What is a Top Level Domain (TLD)?

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. Generic TLDs include .com, .int, .net, .info, .org, etc. There are also many country code top level domains (ccTLDs) such as .fr, .de and .uk. Each TLD is associated with a particular registry which registers the names associated with the TLD.

What is EURid?

EURid is a private, independent, not-for-profit registry created by the three national registries of Belgium, Italy and Sweden with associated members from the Czech Republic and Slovenia. EURid was selected by the Commission in 2003 as the registry for .eu following an open call for expressions of interest. EURid operates independently of the European Commission, under a contract concluded for an initial period of five years.

For further information on EURid and its work: http://www.eurid.eu/en/general/

Press contact at EURiD:

Patrik Lindén, Communications Manager

Email: press@eurid.eu

Ph +32 (0)2 4012793 (direct)
Ph +32 (0)2 401 27 50 (switchboard)
Ph +32 (0)475 72 05 32 (Belgian mobile)
Ph +46 (0)70 550 71 98 (Swedish mobile)

Have many companies and citizens registered already under .eu?

To date, over two million '.eu' names have been registered, making '.eu' Europe's third most popular country code top level domain name, and the seventh most popular TLD worldwide, in just nine months. Names were granted on a 'first come, first served' basis.

The strongest demand for .eu domain names so far (15 September 2006) has come from Germany (687,814), the United Kingdom (396,852), The Netherlands (261,373), France (129,918), Italy (126,767) and Sweden (80,761). The latest figures with a breakdown per country are available at: http://status.eurid.eu/

Are .eu domain names already used in practice?

.eu domain names are increasingly becoming a regular feature of Europe’s cyberspace and electronic market place. Examples of companies using their .eu domain name actively include www.airfrance.eu; www.mediamarkt.eu; www.aldi.eu; www.versace.eu; www.fragonard.eu; www.dexia.eu; www.illy.eu; www.milka.eu; www.stefanel.eu. Examples of NGOs using .eu domain names include Greenpeace (www.greenpeace.eu); the alumni organisation of the ERASMUS MUNDUS student exchange programme (http://www.erasmusmundus-alumni.eu/), the International Ludwig Wittgenstein Society (http://www.ilwg.eu/); the Hamburg Blue Devils American football club (http://www.h-b-d.eu/); and an organisation campaigning for a female candidate for UN Secretary-General (www.unefemmealonu.eu, www.chooseawomanforun.eu, www.unamujerenlaonu.eu).

Who created .eu?

The creation of .eu was decided by the Council of Heads of State or Government of all EU Member States in Lisbon in 2000 as part of the eEurope initiative to stress the importance that Europe gives to the Information Society and to electronic commerce to enhance Europe’s competitiveness. Thereafter, the legal framework for '.eu' was created by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers on a proposal from the European Commission.

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 the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (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 is the legal basis for the .eu TLD?

  • EC Regulation 733/2002 (22 April 2002), adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, established that the new TLD should be managed and operated by a private, non-profit organisation known as the .eu Registry. EURid, a consortium of Belgian, Italian and Swedish organisations, was chosen to be the .eu Registry in May 2003, following a call for expressions of interest.
  • EC Regulation 874/2004 (28 April 2004), adopted by the Commission to implement EC Regulation 733/2002, 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 recognised 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 (see IP/05/467).

Who is responsible for managing .eu?

In line with the principles of 'better regulation' and common practice in this field, the management of the '.eu' domain names has been entrusted to a private, independent, not-for-profit organisation called EURid.

Under EC Regulation 733/2002 adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, there has to be such an "entity entrusted with the organisation, administration and management of the .eu TLD". Today, this entity is EURid. EURid was created by the three national registries of Belgium, Italy and Sweden with associated members from the Czech Republic and Slovenia. EURid was selected by the Commission in 2003 following an open call for expressions of interest.

EURid operates independently of the European Commission, under a contract concluded for an initial period of five years, which allows only for a general supervisory role of the Commission in order to respect the independence of EURid.

This clear separation of duties has been deliberately laid down in EC Regulation 733/2002 to ensure an independent day-to-day management of .eu, similar to the way country code TLDs or generic TLDs are managed worldwide. Since the entry into force of the contract on 12 October 2004, this has not entailed any Commission involvement in the actual work carried out by EURid.

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. has a branch office in a Member State). Nationality of an EU Member State is not a prerequisite.

How can I register a .eu domain name?

All applications to register a domain name must be made through one of the appointed registrars. These are commercial companies accredited by EURid that compete with each other. There are more than 1000 registrars all over the world.

A list of registrars may be found on the website of EURid:
http://list.eurid.eu/registrars/ListRegistrars.htm?lang=en.

How does one apply for a .eu domain name?

EURid does not act itself as registrar, but applications to register domain names must be made through one of EURid's accredited registrars, which are generally commercial companies. These are listed on the website of EURid, http://list.eurid.eu/registrars/ListRegistrars.htm?lang=en.

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 the central directory, EURid.

EURid then inserts this information into a centralised database and enables it to be placed in internet zone files so that domain names can be found around the world via the web and e-mail. End users are also required to enter a registration contract with the registrar, which sets out the terms under which registrations are accepted and maintained.

Administrative rules on how to register domain names are laid down in the EURid’s registration policy. The registration policy, rules, terms and conditions and guidelines can all be found on the website http://www.register.eu/.

How does EURid decide whether or not a domain name is available?

The “first come, first served” principle is being applied to all applications for .eu domain names. During the sunrise period, if two applicants had a prior right to the same name, EURid accepted the application that it received first. The same principle now applies to applications from the general public, from 7 April 2006.

Administrative rules on how to register domain names are laid down in EURid’s registration policy. The registration policy, rules, terms and conditions and guidelines can all be found on the EURid website:

http://list.eurid.eu/registrars/ListRegistrars.htm?lang=en.

Were any precautions taken by the EU against cybersquatting of .eu domain names?

To ensure that holders of prior rights are protected against cybersquatting, the opening of .eu to the general public was preceded by a sunrise period that started on 7 December 2005 (see IP/05/1510). During the first part of the sunrise period, the right to apply for the registration of '.eu' names was reserved to trademark holders and public bodies (from 7 December 2005 to 7 February 2006). During the second part, holders of other 'prior rights', such as company names or business identifiers were entitled to apply (from 7 February to 7 April 2006). Finally, from 7 April 2006 anyone established in the European Union could register a '.eu' domain name on, the basis of the “first come, first served” principle (see IP/06/476).

What happens if there is a dispute about a .eu domain name?

Domain name disputes arise inevitably under all domain name systems because of the considerable commercial value that a specific domain name may represent, particularly for businesses. In 2002 for example, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) alone dealt with over 15,000 disputed names on behalf of the .info registry that had been launched the previous year.

To ensure an easier and quick resolution of domain name disputes under .eu, the EU’s legal framework for the registration of domain names under .eu provides for 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 Organisation to solve disputes concerning domain names registered in .com, .net, .org and in a number of national top level domains. '.eu' arbitration is provided by an Arbitration Court based in Prague, via a secure online platform and in all EU languages, which saves on translation costs and enhances the accessibility of the arbitration procedure to all EU citizens.

An ADR may be initiated:

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

The ADR procedure is described in detail on http://www.adreu.eurid.eu/.

The .eu ADR system is based on recovery of costs, provides adequate procedural guaranties for the parties concerned. So far, there have been 193 decisions rendered by the Arbitration Court based in Prague (status: 15 September 2006).

The .eu ADR is a fast track extra-judicial system for the settlement of conflicts, which applies without prejudice to any Court proceedings that an interested party may initiate against a holder of a domain name or against a decision of EURid.

Is EURid empowered to take measures against abusive registrations and 'warehousing' of .eu domain names?

EURid has, as the Registry for .eu, a legal responsibility to "organise, administer and manage the .eu TLD in the general interest". Where the general interest is jeopardised by conduct such as the abusive "warehousing" of domain names, EURid, as the Registry, has to act within the limits established by the law.

EURid's decision of 24 July 2006 to freeze 74,000 domain names and to terminate contracts with some 400 registrars demonstrates EURid's determination to ensure that the success of .eu is not tarnished and sends a clear signal that any abuse within the .eu will be remedied swiftly.

Why have some applicants for a .eu domain name been disappointed?

This is an inevitable result of the "first come, first served" rule provided by the EU legislator (European Parliament and Council on a proposal from the Commission) for the registration of .eu domain names. Such a "first come, first served" rule is the only fair way to register domain names.

On 7 April 2006, when .eu opened to the public, a true .eu land rush took place. It could be a matter of minutes, if not seconds, for one of them to be first in the (well advertised) registration process. The “first come, first served” principle applied, and inevitably, not everybody was lucky in this race. The Wall Street Journal reported that the rental-car company Hertz applied for its name under .eu but the application was not considered because it arrived 14 minutes after the one from a company producing car-radio speakers using the same name. This has been also the case of Eurostar, the well-known train operating company, whose application arrived minutes after that of the Belgian diamond specialists Eurostar Diamond Traders (EDT).

Further info:

http://www.eurid.eu/

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/doteu/index_en.htm


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