IEDR suspects high number of Irish .eu cyber-squatters


6 Jun 2006

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Hundreds, possibly thousands, of .eu domain names registered from Ireland in recent months could have been registered by opportunistic cyber-squatters, the head of the IE Domain Registery (IEDR) David Curtin (pictured) told siliconrepublic.com.

So far there have been three phases where organisations and individuals could apply for a .eu domain name. The first phase, from 7 December 2005 to 6 February 2006, covered public bodies and trademark companies. The second phase, from 7 February to 7 April 2006, covered public bodies, trademark companies and other company names and business identifiers, focusing specifically on distinctive titles of protected literary and artistic work, unregistered trademarks and trade names. The third phase, from 7 April onwards, allowed all other types of organisations to apply for a domain name such as clubs, interest groups or family names.

According to Curtin, to date 24,754 .eu domains have been registered from Ireland. “However, just 1,412 domains were registered during the first phase or sunrise period, which was restricted to trademarks, patent holders and public bodies. There are more trademarks, patent holders and public bodies in Ireland than that.

“This to me suggests that there have been quite a few speculative registrations. Time will tell how many are genuine or are opportunistic individuals hoping to sell the domain on for a profit.”

Cybersquatting is the practice of registering and claiming rights over internet domain names that are, arguably, not for the taking. The cyber-squatter then offers the domain to the person or company who owns a trademark contained within the name at an inflated price. Most cyber-squatters tend to do nothing with the domain; however, some have been known to use the domains for selling other services or even use them as the location for porn sites.

According to the World Internet Property Organisation (WIPO), cybersquatting is on the rise and in 2005 a total of 1,456 cybersquatting cases have been filed with WIPO.

“There have been many incidents around cybersquatting but many of us don’t hear about the thousands of people or companies that have spent a lot of money to get their rightful domain name back from the cyber-squatter, either from embarrassment or fear of adverse public relations,” says Curtin.

“Cyber-squatters will generally negotiate but you can expect to pay at least hundreds, if not thousands, for your domain,” Curtin said. “The best advice I can give is if you have a trademark, register with the whole range of domains and have the comfort of knowing that you are protected.”

By John Kennedy