Alternative Dispute Resolution for .eu Domain Names

Author:Ms Stephanie Hartung, LLM
Profession:Mayer Brown
 
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Keywords

alternative dispute resolution, .eu domain names, top-level domain, cybersquatters, profit, third party trademarks, bad-faith registration, trafficking, identical trademark, similar trademark

Every time that a new Top-Level Domain is introduced, cybersquatters aim to profit from the goodwill of third party trademarks by the bad-faith registration and trafficking in domain names that are identical or confusingly similar to that trademark.

This was particularly true in connection with the recent introduction of the .eu Top-Level Domain (TLD), which started on December 7, 2005, and is claimed to be the most successful introduction of a new TLD of all time. According to the official registry EURid, there are approximately 2.4 million .eu domain names in current use, making .eu the third most registered country-code TLD in Europe (right after .de and .uk).

Regardless of this quantitative success, the introduction of .eu was, above all, characterized by its extremely formalistic "Sunrise Period," which initially was meant to protect trademark owners, but actually allowed domain name grabbers to profit from bureaucratic mistakes both in the complex and often inconsistent legal framework provided by the European Commission as well from simple formal mistakes by the applicants themselves. Moreover, since the start of the subsequent "Landrush Period," on April 7, 2006, which now allows the registration of .eu domain names to any interested party with legal domicile within the European Union, a significant percentage of the 2.4 million registrations again were registered by professional cyber-squatters.

As a result, many trademark owners still seek to register the .eu domain name of their first choice. They have realized that domain name matters should not always be left with IT departments, but from time to time require professional legal assistance.

Scope of ADR procedures for .eu Domain Names

The most efficient way to challenge an unlawful .eu domain name registration is by filing a complaint with the Czech Arbitration Court in Prague, presently the only competent court with regard to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) for .eu domain names.

The ADR process is available to all clear cases of trademark infringement. A decision is usually rendered in favor of the complainant provided that:

The disputed domain name is identical, or confusingly similar, to a name in which rights are recognized by any national and/or community law (such as...

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