Giving With One Hand While Taking Away With The Other – Changes In The “.ie” Domain Space

Things have become simpler in the .ie domain space.  Previously it was necessary to demonstrate a bona fide claim to a domain name before the application would be accepted.  This could involve providing detailed information by way of evidence and correspondingly had the effect of restricting the number of .ie domain names.

Since 21 March 2018 the .ie registry’s policy has been liberalised and now it is only necessary to demonstrate some kind of connection with Ireland before being eligible to obtain a “.ie domain name.  This simplifies things considerably so that essentially almost any legitimate connection of the applicant with the island of Ireland will suffice.  For overseas businesses not already operating in Ireland this essentially translates to providing evidence that they will carry on trade with Ireland in the future, or that they own a registered Irish or European Trade Mark.  Once the connection has been demonstrated it will not be necessary to demonstrate it again in relation to future domain name applications.

Now the taking away…….As a consequence of the entry into force of the GDRP regime in Europe and similar to the recent approach taken by ICANN in relation to the future withholding of WHOIS information that is deemed to be “personal information”, the .ie registry has indicated that it will no longer be publishing personal information that identifies individuals who are domain name owners or who, for example, act as contact points for corporate domain name owners.  In addition and as a result of the simplification of the .ie domain name application requirements, the previous fields concerning what type of registration was related to each domain have been removed.

Not surprisingly, for brand owners this only serves to make life increasingly difficult. As a result, it is going to be much more difficult to identify who really owns domain names and websites with infringing content where the listed owner is an individual.  That translates to more time and expense in identifying infringers before anyone can think about issuing a cease and desist letter, let alone proceedings.  One step forwards and two backwards?

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