There has been much progress in recent times with the negotiations between the UK and European Union in relation to registered IP rights. However, the European Commission has recently given notice that .eu domain names will no longer be open to UK businesses post-Brexit.
In a recent notice to stakeholders, including EURid, the .eu register operator, the Commission has stated:
“As of the withdrawal date, undertakings and organisations that are established in the United Kingdom but not in the EU and natural persons who reside in the United Kingdom will no longer be eligible to register .eu domain names or, if they are .eu registrants, to renew .eu domain names registered before the withdrawal date.”
The consequence of the above statement is that the estimate 300,000 .eu domain names owned by UK-based registrants may need to be deleted on 30 March 2019, or at least when they next become due for renewal.
.eu domain name ownership
The current rules provide that the following persons are eligible to register .eu domain names:
(i) undertakings having their registered office, central administration or principal place of business within the EU;
(ii) organisations established within the EU (without prejudice to the application of national law); and
(iii) natural persons resident within the EU.
Following Brexit, organisations based in the UK which do not have operations in the EU, or individuals resident in the EU, will no longer be eligible to hold .eu domain names — nor be entitled to renew them.
Whilst it remains possible that an agreement will be reached between the UK government and the European Union which allows for UK-based organisations and individuals to retain existing .eu domain names, we recommend that businesses put in place contingency plans now by registering suitable .uk domain names or other gTLDs.