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So, on-top of the rest of the Brexit confusion (because there isn’t enough of that at the moment) UK Businesses and individuals may lose .EU domain names.
The recent notice from the European commission announced that, (post-Brexit), .eu domain names will no longer be available for UK entities. This means that potentially, over 300,000 .eu domain names could be at risk of deletion.
This isn’t ‘industry norm’ or best practice, as registered domains are generally retained when there is a structural change. However; the registrar (in a fit of generosity) is going to give 2 months grace after Brexit before they simply delete them and return them to the bit bucket and allow them to be registered by someone else without the ability for you to prevent it!
So, what can you do? Simply fix it or lose it!
The rules behind the .eu top level domains state that only persons, companies or organisations based in the European Economic Area (plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) can register these. If you have a .eu domain and you are a resident of the UK then you’ll want to read on….
In December 2018, DCMS suggested that .eu domain holders should transfer their digital assets to other domains such as .com or .co.uk so that they don’t lose any of their email or website functionality. This guidance was then replaced in February of this year by the European domain registry. This sets out a couple of scenarios; .eu domains under a “no deal”, and .eu domains following a transitional period ending in December 2020. In a no-deal scenario, registrants will have until 30 May to update all domain contact details to a legally registered entity in one of the EU27 member states. Any domain that is not updated or claimed will automatically be revoked meaning that they will be made available for public registration. The exception to this will be under a planned transition scenario whereby the revocations for domains that aren’t updated would not being until 1st January 2022.
Below are the 4 main consequences of Brexit on .EU domain names, as highlighted in the EC’s Notice:
1. Registration and renewal of .EU domain names. The EU’s Notice expressly provides that “as of the withdrawal date, undertakings and organisations that are established in the United Kingdom but not in the EU and natural persons who reside in the United Kingdom will no longer be eligible to register .EU domain names or, if they are .EU registrants, to renew .EU domain names registered before the withdrawal date”. The EU’s Notice also stressed that .EU registrars will not be entitled to process any registration or renewal requests of .EU domain names by those undertakings, organisations and persons.
2. Revocation of registered .EU domain names. If UK individuals or entities holding a .EU domain name no longer fulfil the eligibility requirements for registering .EU domain names in accordance with article 4(2)(b) of Regulation (EC) No. 733/2002, EURid will be entitled to revoke such domain names “on its own initiative and without submitting the dispute to any extrajudicial settlement of conflicts” in accordance with article 20(b) of the Commission Regulation (EC) No. 874/2004. This is a major consequence as there are over 300,000 .EU domain names owned by registrants based in the United Kingdom.
3. Rights that can be invoked in .EU domain name dispute proceedings. .EU domain names may be revoked by extra-judicial or judicial procedures, in accordance with article 21 of Commission Regulation (EC) No. 874/2004 of 28 April 2004. A party may obtain the transfer or cancellation of a .EU domain name pursuant to the .EU Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules (the “ADR Rules”). To obtain the transfer or cancellation of a .EU domain name, a complainant must demonstrate that: (a) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a name in respect of which a right is recognised or established by the national law of a Member State and/or EU law and; either (b) the disputed domain name has been registered by the respondent without rights or legitimate interest in the name; or (c) the disputed domain name has been registered or is being used in bad faith.However, as of the withdrawal date, a party seeking to revoke a .EU domain name in accordance with article 21 of the Commission Regulation (EC) No. 874/2004 of 28 April 2004, will no longer be able to rely on rights recognised or established by the United Kingdom but not by EU Member States or by the European Union. However, the EC Notice stresses that rights arising from international treaties, such as the Paris Convention or the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), will not be affected.
4. Applicable law in agreements between accredited .EU registrars and .EU domain name registrants. Article 5 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 874/2004 provides that agreements between the Registrar and a .EU domain name registrant cannot designate, as applicable law, a law other than the law of an EU Member State, nor can they designate a dispute-resolution body, unless selected by EURid, the .EU Registry, pursuant to article 23 of that Regulation, nor an arbitration court or a court located outside the EU. The EC’s Notice provides that, as of the withdrawal date, should any such agreement designate as applicable law the law of the United Kingdom, the Registrar and concerned domain name registrant are advised to amend the relevant agreement in accordance with the law of a Member State.
If you would like to read the full notice to stakeholders, please follow the link below;
If you have any questions on how to legally register or claim your .eu domain, please give us a call on 01782 667788, or visit our website on www.ic.uk.
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