OK, we are all bored of Brexit, and by the time I have uploaded this post it’s likely that the most likely outcome will have changed (probably several times). There is, however, a potential consequence of Brexit that some marketers may not have considered.

When, or if, the UK leaves the EU, the EU has stated that its regulatory framework for .eu domains will no longer apply to the UK. This means that:

  • If you are British, you will no longer be able to register .EU domains, nor will you be able to renew any existing .EU domain names, irrespective of whether they were registered before the withdrawal date.
  • The Registry (EURid) will be entitled to revoke .eu domain names on its own initiative.
  • UK rights, such as UK trade marks will no longer be effective in an action against bad faith .EU domain name registrations.
  • Agreements between Registrars and Registrants of .EU domain names can no longer effectively designate UK law or a UK court or dispute resolution body.

Now of course this could be overruled by transitional arrangements in a withdrawal agreement, so even if the UK does leave the EU, these events might not come into effect – at least not immediately. I would, however, recommend reading the EURid Brexit notice, just in case.

The Real Problem for UK Businesses

There will, of course, be a few businesses that stand to lose a .eu domain that they are actively promoting. Although this is a major problem for them, with almost all online activities from website to email impacted by the change, realistically most organisations have chosen other TLDs such as .com or .co.uk.

There will also be a grace period of two months, so nothing will change immediately. If you have an EU subsidiary, of course, you can easily overcome the potential issue by simply changing the registration of the domain to be in the name of the EU company: something you should really be doing now.

Losing a domain isn’t the only thing that companies without subsidiaries in the EU should worry about: the change to the impact of having a UK trademark will be keeping many people up at night. If you have a UK trademark, it will be possible for competitors to register a .eu domain for your brand, potentially damaging your reputation. You’ll no longer be able to use the UK trademark to stop them. If this is a concern, registering an EU trademark is the obvious solution, but be aware that this takes time so don’t delay the application!