While the questions around the implications of Brexit for registered EU trade marks and designs have been well-publicised, the issue of domain names has been discussed less but the position is equally uncertain; many EU domain ‘extensions’ require that registrants must be based in the European Economic Area or the EU or have some other link to the EEA/EU – for example, ‘.eu’, ‘.fr’ ‘.hu’, ‘.it’, ‘.pm’, ‘.re’, ‘.tf’, ‘.wf’ & ‘.yt’. Furthermore, most of the domain names have different requirements.
Unfortunately, as with trade marks and designs, the government has yet to propose any transitional mechanisms to protect rights’ holders. However, for many businesses, having their emails and website stop working due to Brexit could have an even more significant impact in terms of day-to-day operations than an issue with their registered trade mark or design. Therefore, for businesses choosing new domain names – for the present – we are generally advising that the most straightforward way of avoiding this issue is to avoid European country extensions. However, for businesses already using European domain names, what exactly they should do at this stage will depend on their particular circumstances.
Once the position is clear and we are in a position to advise on the best course of action, we will immediately notify those clients who use our domain name management services and whose domains are affected. For those who are considering registering country extensions or are already using them and wish to talk over the potential issues/solutions, contact one of Briffa’s domain name experts on INFO or 0207 288 6003 for a free discussion.