MarkIt to Market® - December 2020: Protect Your .eu Domain Name From Becoming a Brexit Casualty

Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C.
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Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C.

[co-author: Joseph Diorio, Law Clerk]

Following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union in February of 2020, the EU will soon be revoking any .eu domain names owned by UK registrants who fail to comply with new EU requirements that owners of such domain names be EU citizens, residents of an EU member state, or have a business establishment within the EU.

UK domain name registrants were given an 11-month transition period to update their registration data and preserve their domain rights. The transition period will conclude on December 31, 2020 and, effective January 1, 2021, EURid (the registry that runs the .eu Top Level Domain) will no longer allow the registration or transfer of any domain name by UK registrants.

Current UK registrants who will be affected by this change have been notified by EURid and have until the end of the transition period to comply with the new regulatory framework. Such compliance requires one of the following actions by the registrant:

  1. Update registration to indicate a legally established entity in one of the eligible Union Member States;
  2. Transfer residence to a Union Member State; or
  3. Demonstrate citizenship of a Union Member State (even if residing in UK).

These options reveal that complying with the EURid’s registration requirement will entail more than merely operating an .eu website that targets EU customers. However, it currently appears sufficient for UK registrants to transfer .eu names to EU-based subsidiaries, or even service providers such as law firms or entities that provide corporate domain name services.

For some UK-based businesses, it may make more sense to transition to a .uk or more general gTLD – perhaps more in line with new, UK-focused branding – to capitalize on the UK’s newfound economic independence.

Any UK registrants who fail to take action prior to the December 31, 2020 deadline will begin their decent down the slippery slope of the revocation of their domain name rights. First, those domain names that have not been updated will have their status changed to “suspended.” Next, owners of the suspended domain names will have until March 31, 2021 to comply with the new regulatory framework, or the status of the domain will change to “withdrawn.” Finally, once withdrawn, those domains will become revoked effective January 1, 2022 and will become available for general third party registration. EU-based businesses will want to see what names may be up for grabs starting January 1, 2022, as a number of .eu registrations will inevitably fall through the cracks.

As the window to update domain registration information is closing, time still remains for those registrants who wish to update their information and preserve their rights. Those individuals should consider contacting their respective registrar (the company which they have registered the domain name with) or visit Find a Registrar.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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