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EURid wins .eu domain contract officially

Two-month delay in confirmation yields a few more details

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Brussels-based consortium EURid was today officially announced as the organisation that will run the new .eu domain registry.

This may cause a sense of deja-vu for many who read back on 20 March that EURid had won the contract. But that was a leak of the official document and the now the official document has been officially released so it's all kosher.

Fortunately this means that the director of the Belgian country-code domain, Marc Van Wesemael, is now able to give us a few more details over the upcoming domain (he was modestly reticent in March).

Firstly, and most importantly, when will the domain be available to buy? "The best case scenario is at the end of this year," Mr Van Wesemael told us. "However it depends on how long it takes to agree the contracts between the Commission and ICANN."

EURid estimates that from the time it has the contracts in its hand, it will be six months to when it is able to sell .eu domains. However, it is insisting that the public policy of the domain be written into the contracts and so there is the potential for lengthy discussion on what use .eu should be put to and how it should be run.

Mr Van Wesemael views are mostly formed though and are, unsurprisingly, based exactly on the system currently run by himself in Belgium. "We will be using the same model as in Belgium and the same UDRP rules," he told us.

That model is a hybrid of the American and British systems. In .com domains for example, the contract for a domain is between a registrant (the punter) and the registrar (like Register.com), with ICANN taking a very hands-off approach.

In .uk domains, the contract is between the registry owner, Nominet, and the registrant and registrars act simply as middlemen. However, .eu domains will see a contract between registrant and registrars that will have to include the Ts&Cs between the registrar and EURid. Essentially, EURid has clear and ultimate control over the domain and the registrar but EURid is not directly responsible for the domain. EURid will not sell domains direct.

As for the UDRP - the rules that decide who is entitled to a domain in the case of a dispute - the Belgium rules are based on the widely criticised WIPO's rules but also goes further and includes defences for trading, people and place names. This is perhaps unsurprising since .eu is intended for companies to use. Mr Van Wesemael says he hopes the domain will be kept open so individuals can register names, but ultimately the decision is down to the Commission.

The new system will use the same software as currently in place in Belgium, meaning .eu will benefit from the years of development across the globe in registering and transferring domains so that the process will be almost entirely automated from start to finish.

The plan is still to charge €10 for a domain, with that being reduced to € €5 after a year. EURid claims it can sell one million .eu domains in the first year. "This is a guess, you know as much as me," says Mr Van Wesemael, "but if only a part of UK and German companies register domains for defensive reasons and if other Europe-wide companies register their domain, we expect to meet that number."

The first meeting between EURid and the Commission is scheduled for next week. ®

Related story
Brussels awards .eu domain to Brussels-based consortium

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