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In more detail: Internet: domain names
in more detail: internet: domain names


Domain names can be made of groups of letters, abbreviations, names and numbers used as IP (Internet Protocol) addresses.

In Italy the Registration Authority is the body appointed to the registration of domain names; unlike the Naming Authority, whose role is purely to establish the procedures and regulations by which the Registration Authority is governed, this latter has an operative role.

While it is true that no-one (neither natural person or private or state body) owns the Internet, it is also true that its use can give rise to a good few legal problems which can be solved by recourse to the legislation of the countries in which the problems has arisen or, alternatively, to international law provisions, given that the Internet is a global concern.

In Italian regulations, the prevalent legal literature and decisions of the courts consider domain names to be the same as “distinctive signs”. This is due to the commercial use to which the domain name is quite often put and therefore, in some cases, it can be qualified as a registered trade mark, de facto trade mark, firm, sign, proper name and therefore, finally, as a sign which is part of the “corporate assets” of the name’s beneficiary.

An applicant domiciled and holding a tax code or VAT number registered in any of the European member states can apply for an unlimited number of registrations for Italian domain names with the “it” country code. Registration is compulsory and without it the domain name is inoperative. Domain names are assigned on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, so priority is due entirely to the registration application chronology

International domain names (e.g. “COM”, “INFO”, “NET”) can also be registered, still following the same principle of chronological priority, with absolutely no territorial restrictions.

The registration procedure for a domain name in Italy requires the applicant to submit both a registration form containing the all the details required for the name to become operative and a letter in which responsibility for the name is assumed.

As far as the letter of responsibility is concerned, this must be drafted and signed by the applicant and can be sent in by the applicant’s provider. This letter comprises two sections, the first of which is compulsory, the second optional. More precisely,

- the first section must contain all the applicant’s details, along with those of their provider, a pledge to inform the authority of changes to the said information and cessation of the domain (in that event), a statement of familiarity with the naming rules and the dispute settlement procedure, a declaration of ability to legitimately use the domain name applied for without prejudicing the rights of third parties, a disclaimer releasing the Registration Authority from all responsibility concerning the allocation of the domain name applied for.

The domain name applied for is not considered assigned until the day on which it is recorded in the Register of Assigned Names.

- Once registered, a domain name cannot be used by any other party, even if they hold rights to the corresponding name.
- With respect to an earlier valid applicant, a second applicant (even if valid) is prevented from registering on the basis of the said chronological priority of the application submissions;
- The practice of hoarding of domain names by parties with no rights to the names in question, so-called ‘cybersquatting’, is almost always aimed at the resale of these name to the lawful owners of corresponding trade marks;
- registration of a person’s name by parties who cannot claim any rights to the name.

Anyone who feels that a domain name is injurious to their own rights can take up the issue with the Registration Authority.

This procedure seems to be a particularly sound approach, especially in comparison with ordinary legal action; however, the real authority of the procedure is experienced when the disputing party is able to demonstrate the domain name owner’s unfair competition and/or their bad faith or the lack of any justifiable interest in the registration of the domain name in question.

If the outcome of the procedure is the reassignment of the disputed domain name to the party that has taken the action, the Registration Authority will only implement the said reassignment if no notice is received from the opposing party informing them of further legal action or arbitration measures taken in response to the said dispute.