New Registration Procedure
Disconnection and Revocation
On January 17 2003 Parliament adopted the Domain Names Act. The new act replaces the administrative regulations adopted over the years by the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority, and creates a more flexible domain name registration system for the country-code top-level domain '.fi'. The act aims to promote the provision of information society services and secure the equitable distribution of Finnish domain names. The authority will continue to be responsible for granting top-level domain names and all other duties related to domain names.
The new act is expected to enter into force in September 2003, and will not affect current registered domain names. New top-level domain names may be reserved only after the act has entered into force.
The act includes provisions on form requirements and the allocation and administration of domain names. It also covers rules on the revocation and disconnection of domain names, and on dispute resolution and domain name service providers.
The most significant change to the present top-level domain name registration system is the abandonment of the pre-examination of the right to a name. According to the new act, top-level domains are granted on a first come, first served basis. Consequently, a registered right (eg, a trademark or trade name) to the requested name will no longer be required for the allocation of a top-level domain name. However, the applicant must ensure that the requested domain name does not infringe IP rights, such as the registered trademarks or trade names of other companies.
According to the new act a top-level domain name may be granted to:
- legal entities and private entrepreneurs registered in Finland;
- Finnish public corporations and state owned businesses;
- government institutions and associations; and
- foreign embassies.
The new act does not allow private persons to register .fi domain names. However, this issue is under consideration and Parliament has advised the government to start preparing legislation that will enable private persons to apply for top-level domain names.
The domain names will be granted for an initial period of three years, but can be renewed indefinitely for subsequent three-year periods.
Disconnection and revocation of the right to a domain name are possible if the domain name is abused. The authority may disconnect a domain name for a maximum period of one year, although this period may be extended in exceptional cases. Disconnection is possible, for example, at the request of the law enforcement authorities or a right holder (provided that there is probable cause to suspect that the domain name is a protected name or trademark, and the domain name holder fails to provide acceptable grounds for its claim to a stronger right to the domain name within two weeks). Subject to certain requirements, a top-level domain may also be disconnected if it is a derivative of a protected name or trademark.
Revocation of the right to a domain name is a permanent measure and the threshold for revocation is somewhat higher than for disconnection. The authority may revoke the right to a domain if, for example, the domain name application contains materially insufficient or incorrect information. If a domain name infringes a protected third-party name or trademark, the right to the domain name may, in clear cases and subject to certain requirements, be revoked at the request of the right holder. Revocation is also possible by court order.
According to the new act, the authority will act as the first port of call for dispute resolution in domain name matters. Decisions of the authority may be appealed to the Administrative Court of Helsinki. The authority also acts as a supervisory body for .fi top-level domain service providers.
For further information on this topic please contact Rainer Hilli or Jenni Kyntölä at Roschier Holmberg, Attorneys Ltd by telephone (+358 20 506 6000) or by fax (+358 20 506 6100) or by email ([email protected] or [email protected]).