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Attempt to redefine .eu rules fails over sex.eu case

What's in a name?

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A company which claimed a right to the domain name sex.eu under an unusual legal interpretation of the rules has lost its case. It has emerged that the firm behind the attempt had failed in a previous attempt to win casino.eu on the same basis.

Topeu.com took a case to the Czech arbitration panel which rules on .eu domain disputes, arguing that .eu registry EURid should not have given sex.eu to a company called Yellow Register On Line.

Yellow was the first company with a prior right to the term "sex" to apply for the domain, which is usually enough to be successful in being awarded it. Yellow had a registered trademark for the term "sex".

Topeu argued that while Yellow was the first in line for the domain and had a trademark on "sex", Topeu had a greater right to the domain because it had registered a trademark for the entire phrase "sex.eu".

"The complainant contends that the proper interpretation of Article 10(2), especially the phrase '...the registration of the complete name for which the prior right exists' is that it means that the entire domain name, inclusive of the '.eu' suffix, must be reflected on the trademark registration certificate," said the company's case.

EURid said the "complete name" refers only to that which precedes the ".eu" suffix. The registry also pointed out that Topeu had attempted to make the same case regarding the casino.eu domain, and that the arbitration panel in that case had rejected its claims.

Arbitration panellist James Mitchell ruled against Topeu and in favour of EURid. "It is self evident that the meaning of 'complete name' ...is the name excluding the .eu suffix," wrote Mitchell. "Were this not the case then those companies who had gone out of their way (whether cynically or otherwise) to register a range of trademarks including '.eu' would effectively gain preference over all other trademark owners in their rights to .eu domains.

"To impart such a construction would be to clearly contradict the letter as well as the spirit of the regulations and to undermine the very purpose of the 'sunrise' period," he wrote.

See: The ruling

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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