UK firms lagging on.eu

The new pan-European domain could be 'as big as .com', say some, but British firms don't seem to care

British companies could end up in an unseemly scramble to get their .eu domains registered, and experts are recommending they act fast to avoid protracted legal battles.

By the 7 April general release of .eu domains, pre-registrations for trademarked brands, as well as some predictably in-demand domains such as sex.eu, are expected to hit 1.5 million. However, UK names are conspicuous by their absence.

Registrar Nominet told ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com UK applications for .eu domains account for less than one in 10. Nominet said it's likely UK companies are standing by the value of their .uk brands.

Damian Schmidt, CEO of rival domain name registrar Strato, said: "We think that in Great Britain the .eu domain just isn't a topic which is interesting people."

But he said that attitude could ultimately prove costly.

Germany currently accounts for 30 percent of registrations, the Netherlands for 16 percent and France for 11 percent, said Schmidt. The UK meanwhile is languishing in fourth place on 9 percent.

Schmidt said he isn't sure whether that is for political reasons, or whether UK businesses are simply unaware of the opportunity but he urged businesses to realise the potential of owning their .eu domain and warned them to consider the problems of not doing so.

However, a spokeswoman for Nominet criticised the process for registering .eu domains, saying it may have discouraged companies from signing up.

Furthermore, she added: "Many businesses do not feel the need or do not want to register a .eu domain name when they already have a well recognised .uk brand in which people have confidence and trust."

But Schmidt claimed: ".eu will be as strong as .com in a couple of years," predicting that it will overtake a lot of smaller country-specific European top level domains fairly quickly in terms of prestige.

Currently pre-registration is going through two 'sunrise' periods when registered trademarks can ensure they get their domains on board. Come 7 April it will be a land-grab.

Schmidt said major .com companies such as Amazon have already signed-up their .eu domain but he predicts that those companies who leave it until 7 April or later to register their domains will find themselves either missing out or embroiled in protracted wrangling to reclaim their domain.

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