On 7 February the registration of domain names under the ‘.eu’ Top Level Domain has entered into the second phase of the Sunrise Period. The Sunrise period is a 4 month period during which holders of prior rights can apply for the registration of domain names.

During phase one, public bodies and holders of registered community or national trademarks were able to register their names. In this respect more than 170,000 applications were received.

During the second phase holders of other prior rights, such as company names, business identifiers, distinctive titles of protected literary and artistic work, unregistered trademarks, trade names and family names can be eligible for a ‘.eu’ domain. Likewise, those who could have applied during the first phase will also have the chance to do so during the second one.

Since one of the main purposes of the ‘.eu’ Top Level Domain is to differentiate European identity in the Internet, only the companies and organizations domiciled within the European Union can submit an application. As for the procedure the validation procedure assures that during the Sunrise period people do not register a trademark, company, personal or other name as a domain name to sell it afterwards to the rightful rightholder for a profit, avoiding what is call cybersquatting.

Therefore, once a European company or organization with prior rights applies for a ‘.eu’ domain name, the validation agents proceed on a “first-come-first-served basis” and check all the applications to ensure the documentation and that the rights claimed are true and valid. Afterwards, if the evidence supplied establish the prior right, the application is approved and registered.

The use of a common system for the whole European Union will help to solve conflicts through a common alternative dispute resolution policy and to assure that the revocation of domain names is handled correctly through the control of the Registry. The harmonization of the treatment of intellectual property and other rights will also facilitate a uniform message to be sent to applicants of domain names in this field.