DENIC Softens its Registration Rules

DENIC, the dot DE registry has recently decided to alleviate registration rules for the dot DE domain names. This move appears to be a direct consequence of Frankfort’s Final Court of Appeal’s ruling in April 2008 against DENIC and in favor of the registration of the domain name vw.de by Volkswagen.

Case Abstract

It all started in 2004 when the German company Volkswagen filed a suite against the dot DE registry who refused to register two-letter domain names and more particularly vw.de

On the one hand DENIC claimed than its system could not handle short second-level domains that were similar to Top Level Domains (TLDs) such as com.de or eu.de. To DENIC, vw could itself be considered as similar to a TLD. This is why two-letter domain names could not be registered under the dot DE extension.

This rule applies to all domain names registered after 1997 but it did not concern three domain names that were registered before the setting up of tougher registration conditions by DENIC that is :
– db.de (Deutsche Bahn AG)
– hq.de (HQ Interaktive Mediensysteme GmbH)
– ix.de (Heise Zeitschriften Verlag GmbH & Co. KG)

On the other hand Volkswagen claimed that allowing competitors such as BMW to register their trademark as bmw.de while preventing Volkswagen from doing the same was an instance of unfair treatment thus breaching the rules of free competition.

While the Frankfort District Court dismissed the case in 2004, the Final Court of Appeal ruled against DENIC and for the registration of vw.de in April 2008.

New Trend for Softening Rules

DENIC’s major U-Turn in its registration policy came more than a year after the Frankfort Final Court of Appeal’s ruling but seems nonetheless to be related to it. Hence, starting from October 23rd 2009 registration rules will be softer in order to allow for the submission of new domain names.

Hence it will be possible to register:

– one- and two-character second-level domain names (whether it be numbers or letters)
– second-level domain names similar to TLDs such as “com” or “org”
– second-level domains identical to German license plates

Anyone interested in registering such domain names should address a request to his or her registrar.

Registrations will be open on October 23rd 2009 at 09.00 a.m. Each registrar will be able to address up to four domain name registration requests per minute. Requests will be marked by an electronic time stamp set up to the millisecond.
Hence there will be no auctions for these new domain names and the registration will be on the « First come, first served » basis.
A few restrictions have been upheld tough. Thus the number of characters is still set at 63 and hyphens at the beginning and at the end of a second-level domain are still not allowed.
Hurry up, you only have four days left to advise your registrar about your domain name wishlist!