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Digital Business Lawyer

Clarification sought from EURid about 'warehousing' of .eu domain names

Domain name registrars and politicians are keen for EURid, the body administering the registration of the .eu domain, to state its position on the 'warehousing' of domain names for later sale. Consumer complaints prompted Diana Wallis MEP, Liberal Democrat spokesperson on the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee, to ask the European Commission for a full explanation.

'It is unacceptable that people are apparently being charged extortionate amounts of money for a .eu domain name that they have a genuine interest in, and which appears to have been bought in advance by companies or individuals on a speculative basis for future sale', said Wallis in a press release. Wallis' office said a reply to the Parliament is European expected in September.

Really Useful Domains, listed as a registrar on EURid's site, offers over 8,000 domains at a minimum price of e1,500 each. "We would like EURid to clarify its position on warehousing," said Stephen Wilde, the company's owner. Wilde claimed he had not broken the rules because he had acquired over 2,000 domain names before he became a registrar and the rest through using other registrars.

'The Registrar may register Domain Names for its own use,' reads a 12-page EURID Agreement Registrar (amended)-sample only published on EURid's website. 'However, it will refrain from warehousing practices...' EURid's rules only specify that registrars are not allowed to 'warehouse' names and the 'own use' term has been interpreted by some registrars as permission to buy domains from other registrars. Companies have been able to 'warehouse' domains bought from registrars and sell them on after later becoming a registrar. EURid has recently suspended 74,000 .eu domain names and has sued 400 registrars for breach of contract.

'In this case we are convinced that the domain name holders of the 74,000 .eu names (Ovidio Ltd, Fausto Ltd and Gabino Ltd) are acting as a front for a number of registrars,' said Herman Sobrie, Legal Manager of EURid. 'The domain name holders and the registrars can be regarded as one and the same. Since registrars should only register domain names for existing customers and not warehouse the names in order to resell them at a higher price, this is clearly in breach of the registrar contract'.

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