Under Article 4(2)(b) of Regulation of the European Commission (EC) No 733/2002, the right to register one or more domain names in the .eu top-level domain is restricted to the following bodies and individuals:
In order to prevent speculative and abusive registration of domain names (domain-grabbing), general ground rules and procedures have been developed for the registration process. Holders of prior rights are protected by means of preferential treatment in the initial phases of the registration system. This protection is to be achieved by means of a phased registration system, the initial phase of which, the first of two phases known as the ‘sunrise period’, began on 7 December 2005.
During this sunrise period, the first phase of which lasts for two months from 7 December 2005 until 6 February 2006, the right to register domain names is restricted to holders of prior intellectual-property rights, i.e.
and to public bodies, i.e.
For the second phase of the sunrise period, from 7 February until 6 April 2006, the right to register a .eu domain will be extended to cover both those who were eligible during the first phase and holders of other rights, such as
In the third phase, that of open registration (the ‘landrush’ period), beginning on 7 April 2006, it will no longer be necessary to provide evidence of existing rights in order to register a .eu domain.
During the sunrise period, only the full name of the public body or trade mark or its abbreviation may be registered. Public bodies responsible for governing a specific geographical area may register the full name of the area and, where appropriate, the name commonly used to designate it.
Besides the phased registration process, the ‘first come, first served’ principle will also apply. This means that the first applicant body from any part of the European Union (EU) to fulfil the eligibility criteria can register a given .eu domain in its own name. It is therefore imperative for entitled parties to contact a .eu registrar, even before the start of the initial sunrise period.
This may be illustrated by reference to municipalities with the name ‘St Martin’, of which there are no fewer than 19 in Germany, Austria and Alto Adige/Southern Tyrol. The first municipality of St Martin anywhere in the European Union to apply for registration can register the domain name ‘www.st-martin.eu’, provided it meets the eligibility criteria.
Parties entitled to protected geographical indications and designations of origin as well as holders of national or Community trade marks have the right to apply during the two phases of the sunrise period.