Trade Marks

Brexit and .eu Domain Names

January 11, 2019

The potential exit from the EU will have many effects in both commercial and private life. One of those effects is that once the UK has left the EU, UK owners of .eu domain names (domain names ending with ‘.eu’) will not be able to renew that domain name when it becomes due for renewal and / or the domain name may be revoked before the renewal date is reached.

This is because to be eligible to own a .eu domain name the owner must be:

  • a company or organisation having its registered office, central administration, or principal place of business in the European Economic Area (the EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway); or
  • a person resident in the European Economic Area.

The owner must meet this eligibility requirement to register a domain name and must continue to meet this eligibility requirement after the domain name has been registered.

As a result of the above eligibility requirements Swindell & Pearson recommends that owners of .eu domain names should urgently give consideration to acquiring and bringing into use a replacement domain name.

There may well be understandable concern on the part of current .eu domain name owners who will lose their domain name that a competitor from within the EU may register the domain name they are losing. In many instances, registered trade mark rights will be able to assist in preventing a new owner of the .eu domain name using that name in connection with the same goods or services as offered by the original UK domain name owner. This is because, despite domain names principally being used in the virtual world of the internet, use of domain names can infringe national trade mark registrations or EU wide trade mark registrations.

UK companies, organisations and individuals will, after the UK leaves the EU, continue to be able to apply for the EU trade mark registrations and national trade mark registrations in the EU member states.

Swindell & Pearson offers its clients a full service in connection with EU trade mark applications and registrations and national trade mark applications and registrations throughout the world. We will be very happy to discuss the above issues with you or any other intellectual property issues arising from Brexit. Please contact the author via e-mail: [email protected].