The launch of the .eu is seen as an important step towards promoting a European business identity and supporting the growth of e-commerce in the region. But with registrations over a vast economic region to process, it is important that robust procedures are set in place to ensure that holders of prior rights are protected. Wim Van den Bossche and Bart Lieben, from PricewaterhouseCoopers, introduce the process for registering in the Sunrise Period of the new .eu.
The first domain name to cover a vast economic region, rather than a country or interest group, the .eu TLD looks set to transform the nature of e-commerce in the European Community. It provides rights holders with higher visibility in the internal market and promotes a more unified European identity. But with so many prior rights holders to process, it is important that registrations are dealt with efficiently and impartially if disputes over domain names are to be avoided.
To protect those with rights to a name, the European Registry for Internet Domains (EURid), the not-for-profit organisation appointed to manage the .eu TLD, is to launch a Sunrise Period of phased registration in November 2005. For a designated four-month period, only public bodies and holders of prior rights will be entitled to register the corresponding name in the .eu TLD, before the registry opens to other applications.
As Wim Van den Bossche, director of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Belgium and project manager of the .eu validation project for owners of prior rights, explains: ‘it’s difficult to predict the number of .eu applications at this stage; we could receive one thousand or one million. Our objective is to ensure the validation process runs transparently and efficiently for everyone concerned.’
EURid and PwC Belgium are currently working closely to finalise the rules and procedures that will apply during the Sunrise Period, and they are keen to keep interested parties up-to-date with the latest developments. ‘The more we can inform the registrars, the better informed their clients will be,’ says Bart Lieben, legal counsel at PwC Belgium and the figurehead for the coordination of the .eu process. ‘We want to provide rights holders with a genuine opportunity to protect their names, not confuse them with unwieldy administrative rules.’
How to prepare
Registrars must place client domains in a queuing process in the same order that they were received, so it’s important to start preparing applications and proof of rights before the launch of the Sunrise Period in November. From this date, PwC Belgium will validate the applications on a first-come, first-served basis, and applicants will be given only 40 days to substantiate prior rights. ‘It’s important to provide the evidence correctly,’ emphasises Bart. ‘Any inconsistencies or missing data will result in the validation being ruled ineligible, forcing the applicant back to square one – and the bottom of the queue. Even folded, stapled or improperly scanned documents can hold up the process and ruin the application’s chance of success.’
‘We want to provide rights holders with a genuine opportunity to protect their names, not confuse them with unwieldy administrative rules.’
Once documentary evidence is received, PwC offices, spread over 20 countries, will check each one against the EURid criteria. ‘We will not be making subjective judgements about the applications,’ explains Bart. ‘It is a question of black and white. The parameters of success and failure have been defined with EURid and our job is to uphold them. We will be checking whether the correct documentary evidence is in place, and if it is, and shows proof of prior right, then the application will be approved; if it doesn’t, it will be refused.’
Once an application is validated or refused, PwC Belgium will move to the next application in the database until all registered names are completed. The process is envisioned to take up to 12 months, with the results published in the WHOIS database on the EURid website. ‘Much of the procedure is already in place,’ says Wim. ‘The rules will be published on www.eurid.eu prior to the Sunrise Period. Applicants would be wise to read up on the .eu requirements and start preparing their cases.’
TOP TIPS FOR SUCCESSFULLY REGISTERING A .EU
- If every applicant staples their documentary evidence, PwC Belgium estimates that it will take 1,670 days just to remove the staples. With time at an essence, it’s important to give your application every chance of success. PwC Belgium provides its top tips on successfully registering a .eu:
- Make sure you are well informed of the rules. Ask your registrar if you’re not sure how to prove your prior right.
- Submit your application as early as possible. The Sunrise Period will operate on a first-come, first-served basis and those at the bottom of the queue will be dealt with last.
- If you do send paper copies, don’t fold or staple documents. These must be provided on flat sheets of paper in the designated order ready for scanning.
- Check that you have included all documentary evidence. If you later realise your application is incomplete, immediately resubmit a new application. The system dedicates a bar code to each application, but it can’t be used twice.
- Send multiple applications in separate envelopes; it reduces the opportunity for error.
- Check the WHOIS database for updates on your application. PwC Belgium cannot answer questions about progress or even confirm receipt.
- If in doubt, seek expert advice.
This article first appeared in IP Review, issue 12
The sunrise period is now complete, but the rules for registering still apply.