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The EU institutions are seeking to implement potentially wide-ranging restrictions on publicly-accessibly information in the .eu WHOIS database which threaten to severely restrict the ability to investigate and tackle online trademark infringements. Flip Petillion and Alexander Heirwegh of law firm Petillion report.
In April 2018, the European Commission adopted a controversial proposal to revise the regulatory framework applicable to the .eu top-level domain (TLD). The controversy mainly revolves around the proposed changes to the provision concerning the .eu WHOIS database. This database allows internet users to obtain information related to a specific domain name registered in the .eu TLD.
Currently, if the domain name holder is a legal entity, this information includes the name of that entity, its language of registration, and its postal and email address. If the domain name holder is a natural person, only the registration language and email address are publicly accessible. This limitation serves to protect the privacy and personal data of individuals.
The publicly available identity and contact information of domain name holders in the .eu WHOIS database is important not only to verify whether and by whom a specific .eu domain name is, or was, registered—it also serves a number of other vital legitimate interest purposes, such as for law enforcement, consumer protection and IP enforcement.
.eu TLD, WHOIS, trademark infringement, brand protection, European Commission, European Parliament, European Council