Eligibility for Registration
Disputes and Dispute Resolution
The Rules of Registration and Maintenance of Internet Domains in the .hu Public Domain set out procedures for the administration of such domain names, and for the resolution of disputes that may arise in connection with their eligibility, delegation, maintenance or withdrawal. (The rules are available at www.nic.hu/english/regszab.) The rules are based on the principle of self-regulation, and have been adopted by the Council of Internet Service Providers (CISP). Any entity that provides internet services in the territory of Hungary may be a member of the CISP (the association also comprises honorary and sponsoring members).
Previously, the members of the CISP were responsible for the registration and maintenance of domain names. However, as of December 1 2000 the CISP delegated responsibility for the coordination and supervision of administrative, registration and maintenance tasks to a so-called 'public interest company', which was founded by the CISP. Any person who signs a franchise agreement with this public interest company and who agrees to be bound by the Guidelines of Domain Registration Business Policy may now register and maintain domain names. (The Guidelines of Domain Registration Business Policy were adopted by the general meeting of the CISP on February 12 2001 and essentially incorporate the rules.) A list of the entities that are entitled to provide domain registration and maintenance services is available at www.domain.hu.
A one-off registration fee is payable, along with a regular maintenance fee which shall be fixed in the mandate contract concluded between the applicant and the registering entity. The registering entities can set these fees individually.
An applicant may be any Hungarian natural person, or any legal or non-incorporated entity domiciled in Hungary. A foreigner may only apply if it has a trademark registered in and/or for Hungary.
Hungary's domain name application procedure was liberalized on March 1 2000. Thus, any applicant may now request that any name be delegated and registered on its behalf; it is no longer obliged to provide proof of a link to such name (eg, a trademark or corporate name). In practice, however, the rules themselves explicitly set out certain restrictions which apply while the eligibility of names for domain registration is being examined. Additionally, the applicant must accept that the registering entity may withdraw a domain name if subsequent evidence is obtained regarding the applicant's unlawful use of the name in the course of its commercial activities (eg, on the basis of applicable trademark law, or laws applying to corporate or trade names). Beyond complying with the rules, however, registering entities do not have to verify whether the application conflicts with any other party's trademark or trade name rights. Under the rules it is the applicant's responsibility to comply with all applicable laws when it selects a domain name and applies for its registration.
The rules explicitly stipulate that the names of settlements are not freely available for use as domain names. These names may only be registered at the request of the municipalities. The rules further provide that certain protected words, such as 'sport', 'internet' and 'e-mail', are not eligible for registration. A list of these words is published on the CISP's web site at www.nic.hu/regszab/specnev.shtml. In addition, an applicant may not select a domain name comprising or including words whose use or meaning is, or may be deemed, unlawful, disgusting, threatening or misleading.
Once an application is filed with a registering entity, together with extracts from public registers which prove that the selected domain name is identical to the applicant's corporate name or trademark, the domain name involved will immediately be registered to the applicant within a so-called 'priority' procedure, unless the name has been registered to a prior applicant on the basis of official documents. For example, if a third party has registered a word as a trademark for Class 5 and uses the word as a domain name on this basis, the domain name cannot be challenged by a subsequent applicant who has registered the same word as a trademark for Class 12.
If the applicant cannot prove that it has a trademark or corporate name right to the domain name upon submission of the application, then the application is published on the CISP web site (www.nic.hu/kethet). Any person who has a valid trademark or corporate name that corresponds to the name in the application then has two weeks in which to challenge the application and request the registering entity to register the domain name to it instead.
The CISP lists the second-level domains to which similar registration and delegation rules apply. An exception is the '.tm.hu' domain, in which only entities that have registered a trademark with the Hungarian Patent Office may apply for registration and in which no two-week preliminary publishing obligation is required. Rather, the application is administered on a 'first come, first served' basis.
The CISP also has the right to suspend the eligibility of certain names for domain registration where such registration may give the applicant an unfair advantage (eg, 'business.hu', 'turizmus.hu'). A team of legal experts will examine whether the registration and maintenance of these names infringe on any valid (eg, economic or consumer) interests. A current list of these names is available at www.nic.hu/regszab/zarolt.shtml.
If an applicant gives up its rights to a domain name which was registered and maintained on its behalf, the domain name will once again become free and eligible for registration.
Disputes and Dispute Resolution
By signing the application form, any applicant submitting a request for domain name registration to a registering entity declares its acknowledgment of the Rules of Registration and Maintenance of Internet Domains in the .hu Public Domain, including the rights reserved for the registering entity pursuant to the rules to terminate the maintenance of a domain name at its discretion, or to suspend or withdraw a domain name in certain specified cases.
Pursuant to the rules, causes for suspension or withdrawal are deemed to occur where:
- the applicant does not comply with the conditions specified in the rules (including the requirement for valid, actual and immediate use of the domain name as a condition of registration);
- the applicant submitted incorrect data in the application which influenced the evaluation of the registration claim;
- the applicant's circumstances change and the registration becomes invalid on the basis of this change;
- a final court decision, act or decree requires the suspension or withdrawal of the domain name;
- the applicant loses the right to use the domain name;
- the applicant applied for the domain name or uses it unlawfully, in bad faith or in a misleading manner; or
- the use of the domain name by the applicant causes disruption in the operation of the Internet.
In the case of legal disputes concerning the registration and maintenance of a domain name, the application for registration binds the applicant to submit such dispute resolution to the final and binding decision of an ad hoc arbitration panel consisting of three members (including at least one lawyer). Pursuant to the rules, registering entities and the administrator also undertake to submit any dispute resolution to the final decision of an ad hoc arbitration panel. This arbitration is supported by the CISP and operates according to the rules of procedure suggested by the CISP. The procedural rules and the list of technical and legal experts who may be appointed as arbitrators is published on the CISP's web site at www.nic.hu/vb. The award must be rendered within three months of the filing of the claim. The fees are specified in the arbitration rules. So far, the CISP has published three arbitration awards. In each case the disputes involved the prior trademark or trade name rights of third parties, and were brought against applicants for domain names which corresponded to those trademarks or trade names.
For further information on this topic please contact András Szecskay or Gusztáv Bacher at Szecskay Law Office/ Moquet Borde by telephone (+36 1 353 1255) or by fax (+36 1 353 1229) or by e-mail ([email protected] or [email protected])
The materials contained on this web site are for general information purposes only and are subject to the disclaimer.