The .eu Sunrise Period starts tomorrow, 7 December. Between then and 7 April 2006, only public bodies, holders of EU trade marks, geographical indications and (from 2 February) national rights will be able to apply for domain names ending in the .eu suffix.
It has come to the IPKat’s attention, via the INTA list and chatting to his friends at yesterday’s JIPLP launch party, that various non-EU companies are playing the system in order to ensure that they’re eligible to apply during the sunrise period. The said companies are applying to register trade marks in jurisdictions which will grant trade marks speedily (the Benelux appears to be a favourite – details of how quickly they register marks here) and then using those registrations as proof of eligibility for the Sunrise period.
The IPKat says a loophole perhaps, but one that has been left in the system. Such a rouse would not work if the applications were being made in the UK. It seems unlikely that use to support a domain name application, or even use on the domain name, would count as genuine use. This would mean that the mark would be applied for without genuine intention to use, leaving it open to being either refused or cancelled on bad faith grounds. Merpel adds that this is a nice little money-spinner for those national trade mark offices that are granting the speedy trade marks.