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Registering .eu in addition to .com and .co.uk is likely to strengthen brand awareness as another ten countries join the European Union – and Withers say it will act as a defence against cybersquatters who try to take advantage of leading brands by getting there first.

“Unlike trademarks, the validity of a domain name cannot be challenged if it is not used actively (provided the renewal fees are paid), which means that it is possible to register a .eu domain name for defensive purposes only.”

Domain names will not be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. Restrictions governed by Public Policy Rules will be published soon by the European Commission.

Those wishing to register need to do so through a registrar accredited by Eurid, the official body appointed to manage the process by the Commission. Eurid will publish a list of accredited registrars on its website (www.eurid.org) in June, say Withers. Registrations are scheduled to be accepted from November.