As part of the UK Government’s preparations for a possible “hard Brexit”, it has published a set of guidance notes on how intellectual property rights would be affected if the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no deal. This is part of a series of technical notices being issued by the UK Government to assist businesses in their preparations.
If you are a UK resident, UK company or organisation in possession of (or planning to acquire) a .eu domain name, you may no longer be eligible to renew (including acquire and register) .eu top level domains. According to the UK Government’s latest guidance on .eu top level domains, in the event of a no deal EU exit, in order to be eligible to hold a .eu top level domain:
- Undertakings / organisations will need to have either been established within the EU or have its registered office, central administration or principle place of business within the EU; and
- Individuals must reside within the EU.
Consequently, as of 31 March 2019, the registry for .eu top level domains will be entitled to revoke, on its own initiative and without the dispute to any extrajudicial settlement of conflicts, all domain names where the registered proprietors do not reside, or are not established (or have their registered office, central administration or principle place of business) within the EU. This means that, save for the exception of "well known marks" (as defined under Article 6bis of the Paris Convention), IP rights holders will no longer be able to rely on their UK registered or unregistered rights when seeking to challenge .eu domain names that are subject of speculative and abusive registration.
Holders of .eu top level domains are therefore strongly advised to check whether they will continue to meet the above eligibility criteria. If not, you may wish to discuss transferring your registration(s) to another top level domain such as .com, .co.uk, .net or .org or transfer ownership of such domains to an EU based individual/entity.