.eu-domain-names: The battle after sunrise
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) puts new domains on hold
by Attorney Dr. Volker Herrmann (german version/english version)
The first sunrise period for the registration of the new european domains has come to a provisional end. From 7th December 2005 till 6th February 2006 a large number of applications have been filed to EURid. This institution was installed by the European Union and is acting as the registration agency for the .eu-domain-names. All applicants must now prove their priority rights (e.g. trademarks) on which the registration was based on within a strict deadline of 40 days.
The examination process will take place at PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of the European Union and the first domain names have already been appointed to their new and lucky owners. The regulations for the .eu-domain-names include a period of 40 days within the domain will be set on hold and no use of the domain can be made before the end of this long wait. While this waiting period might be a piece of cake for the new owner, more difficulties could come along within the 40 days deadline: within this time limit third parties are allowed to file a complaint against the registration of the domain-name.
The registration rules include an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in the case of complaints being filed against a decision made by PricewaterhouseCoopers or EURid or a complaint against the use of a domain-name by a third party. The ADR procedures implement that an independent arbitration tribunal will examine whether domain-names were appointed according to the registration rules and no third party rights were restricted.
The ADR procedures can be operated by an attorney based within the European Union and it applies both to registrations within the first sunrise period (trademark owners) and to such within the second sunrise phase (enterprise names, trade names, business names, surnames (family names), titles, non registered trademarks). In both cases a deadline of 40 days applies starting from the day the domain is appointed to its new owner and this deadline must strictly be regarded by everybody who intends to file a complaint against EURid´s decision.
The European Union has installed an independent arbitration tribunal for the ADR procedures in order to quickly and efficiently decide over the large number of domain disputes that are being expected with the internet community. Even a special online arbitration platform has been installed to improve the efficiency of the ADR procedures.
The arbitration tribunal consists either of a single penalist or three penalists depending on how important the case is, but also the amount of fees that have to be paid to the tribunal. The procedures are taking place in all languages of the European Union while we offer to act before the tribunal in both german and english.
Complaints can be filed either against EURid as the registar for the .eu-domain-names or the new owner of a domain-name when third party rights are effected. Complaints against EURid can be bases on several grounds, e.g. legal mistakes within the registration procedures and the supervision of the applications by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Also generic domain-names will surely come under dispute as most applications where aimed toward such domains as “sex.eu, hotel.eu, travel.eu, jobs.eu, shopping.euâ€?. Furthermore complaints can be based on the fact that an applicant is not the owner of the trademark the application is based on or the domain-name is different from the priority right.
In some cases the incorrect proof of a trademark or a different priority right can be addresses in the ADR procedures. According to information by EURid also cases can disputed where a trademark supporting a domain-name has been filed but not yet registered at the European or national trademark offices.
According to the EU regulations the ADR procedures can also take place against the speculative and abusive registration of domain-names. Such an abusive registration is indicated when the domain-name was only registered to sell it to the owner of a priority right. It is expected that lots of cases of Domain-Grabbing will be heard before the ADR-tribunal.
In conclusion the ADR procedures offer legal protection against unlawful and incorrect registrations of .eu-domain-names. If a priority right (e.g. trademark) has been effected by an incorrect registration the ADR procedures can be initiated to stop the new domain owner from using the domain-name. The ADR tribunal will then hear the full case and examine if all EU regulations were correctly applied in the registration process and it is expected that also the national and international domain-law principles that have been developed by the courts and arbitration tribunals in the past will be applied by the panel.
EU regulations include high hurdles for the ADR procedures and it is recommended to submit complaints against incorrect .eu-domain registration with the help of a lawyer. Please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be able to advise you about the ADR procedures and your chances before the tribunal. We also assist you if your domain application is challenged by a third party and defend your .eu-domain-name before the ADR panel.
Please also have a look at our coverage of ADR-Decisions, e.g:
ADR-Panel-Decision (english) "pompadour.eu"
ADR-Paner-Decision (english) "schoeller.eu"