[:en]On date 12 July 2012 the European Court of Justice issued a very interesting ruling in the field of internet law and e-commerce. Specifically, it stipulated that top-level domains (Tld - top level domain) ".eu" are only reserved for companies that have "its registered office in the territory of the EU'..
In particular, under EU law (Article 12 of Regulation No 874 of 2004) registration of the Tld '.eu' can only be applied for by the "domain names [...] of registered national trade marks, registered Community trade marks, [...] and holders or licensees of prior rights."

The Court of Justice, in interpreting the above-mentioned rule, considered that for "licensees of pre-existing rightsi' may not include companies or persons from the european union who limit themselves, at the request of a trade mark proprietor established in a third country, to registering the trade mark without being allowed to use it in the course of trade.

The present case, to make the matter clearer, involved a American society(Wlash Optical), which is active in the online sale of contact lenses and other eyewear. It has operated www.lensworld.com since 1998 and became the owner of the Benelux Lensworld trade mark, registering it on 26 October 2005. In November 2005, it decided to enter into a licence agreement with Bureau Gevers, Belgian company advising on intellectual property issuesto register the domain 'lensworld.eu' in its name, but on behalf of Walsh Optical itself. at the UERid.

One year later, Pie Optiek, a Belgian company competing with the American company, also applied for registration of the website "www. lensworld.eu." This request is, however, rejected.

Pie Optiek therefore brought an action against the American company, claiming that, as it was based in a third country, it was not entitled to use the .eu domain. The court of first instance dismissed the action. Pie Optiek appealed against the judgment. The Brussels Court of Appeal referred the case to the Court of Justice requesting an interpretation of Article 12(2) of Regulation No 874 of 2004. The Court thus holds that a person who is merely authorised by the proprietor of the trade mark, established in a non-member country, to register in his own name, but on behalf of the licensor, a domain name identical or similar to the trade mark itself, without, however, being permitted to make commercial use of it, cannot be regarded as a licensee of prior rights.

The Court notes on this point how the .eu top level domain was created in order to increase the visibility of the internal market in virtual Internet-based tradeby offering a clearly identifiable link to the European Union, the associated regulatory framework and the European market, and by allowing EU companies, organisations and natural persons to register in a domain that makes this link obvious.

For this reason, domain names should only be registered if requested by any party that meets the criteria of presence in the territory of the European Union. More precisely, by companies that have their registered office, central administration or principal place of business in the territory of the Unionby any organisation established in its territory as well as by any natural person residing in the territory of the European Union.