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Is the .eu domain name a success?

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In 2004 the European Commission signed the contract with EurID (European Registry of Internet Domain Names; a consortium of Belgian, Italian and Swedish organizations) to set the .eu (abbreviation for European Union) mechanism in motion and permit registration of .eu domain names as soon as possible.

Obtaining the “.eu” top-level domain (TLD) is described as a new opportunity given to EU companies to protect their identity and to promote their business in Europe. According to the latest figures of 2005 there are worldwide more than 70 million domain names that have been registered and thousands are being added every day. But let’s have a closer look on what has happened so far with the .eu domain name! Has Europe been truly rushing to obtain these domain names?

Two weeks ago, on February 7, almost 16 months after the agreement, the second phase, Sunrise II was launched. 71,235 applications were immediately filed in its first hour. With applications coming in from owners of registered trade marks, titles of literary works, company and business names and other rights valid in EU member states, this seems to be a great success. EurID have already received more than 288,000 sunrise applications, with about 180,000 coming in from phase 1 and 108,000 in phase 2 so far.

Those enthusiastic registrants with Sunrise II who cannot back up their claim to a .eu domain name with a documented prior right will have to wait till the Land Rush period.

It might be too early to debate on the success of the .eu, as the “grand opening” to all EU residents will be on the 7th of April 2006. However, the potential of applications is high, with a total population of over 450 million inhabitants within the European Union.

Registering for a domain name can be a strange thing. Have a look at the website www.eu.com, it does exist but the legal owners do have a statement on the home page where it says: “EU.com is not in any way affiliated with the European Commission, the European Union or member states.” It makes you wonder if people really need an “.eu” domain name to achieve better results for their company or for their personal needs…

The .eu domain names constitute an opportunity for companies that woke up too late to register their .com, which has been the domain name worldwide reference until now. The hope of the .eu instigators is of course to compete with the .com!

We will have to wait a few months after the .eu land rush in order to truly tell if it was worth the effort to create the .eu domain name for this reason. Usually the internet user is automatically trying the .com domain names to look for a brand…We will see if this habit will change to the benefit of the .eu with time.

Needless to say that the biggest companies in the world, who are based in for instance the US, China, and Japan have applied for this European Domain Name to protect their company brand image and set e-business feet on European ground!

The .eu is therefore inescapable in the point of view of online brand protection; it will prove its success with time, after the Land Rush.

NB. The progress of Sunrise II can be followed on-line on the EurId site

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