.eu: Not Just Another Domain Name

It’s official. The Commission of the European Communities just struck a deal with EURid to begin registering the new .eu top level domain name.

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There is still a good four to six months before you’ll be able to register your domain name. EURid needs to negotiate with ICANN to make the .eu domain operational and this alone will take awhile. Still, I do expect the domain to be live in 2005.

Why Register .eu?

Companies understandably get domain fatigue when expanding into new markets. Every country has its own country code top level domain name (ccTLD), like .jp, .fr and .kr, and then there are the generic top level domain names (gTLD), like .com, .org and .net. Why should a company add .eu to its portfolio?

I think the domain provides a nice solution for companies that want to address the European Union with one Web site (with multiple languages). Since the EU has a standard currency and continues to absorb countries, one European Web site with the .eu domain could be quite successful. The .eu domain avoids creatiing the impression that a company favors one or a few European markets over the others, which is too often the case. Rarely will you see an American-based multinational launch a Web site for Romania. But with a .eu domain, you technically do cover that market, although you’ll still need to address language and cultural issues.

I suspect that .eu is going to be quite popular going forward. Companies that do business in any of the EU markets should register this domain.

Who Can Register .eu?

According to the folks in charge, “Any individual resident in the EU or any organisation or company established in the EU will be able to register a name under the .eu TLD. European law and the jurisdiction of European courts will apply.” I’m not quite sure if this wording means you need to have an actual mailing address in the EU to qualify; i would bet that ultimately anyone will be able to regiser a .eu domain; Japan tried to be strict about allowing only Japanese-based companies to register . jp, but eventually caved in to market pressures.

What To Do Now

Keep an eye on the EURid Web site. They will first launch a “sunrise period” for about four months during which owners of “prior rights” (e.g. trademark holders, public bodies) can register their domain names before other eligible parties.

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