Back in January, UK business seemed mightily uninterested in sharing the .eu domain name space with their continental cousins.

Registrations for .eu domains started back in December and it was looking like the Germans would be laying their towels over most of them.

Called the "sunrise" period, registration was first opened to trademark holders only. Then, in February those with "other claims" were given their chance. Finally, on 7 April, the floodgates were opened, allowing any Tom, Dick or Ludwig to get their mitts on the names.

Despite an apparent ambivalence to the importance of the new domain, UK firms took an early lead in the registration rankings. But as so often happens when we score early, the Germans soon overtook us, and were way ahead by close of play last Friday.

Of the 1.3 million names registered so far, almost half are now German controlled, with UK registrations accounting for less than 50 per cent per cent of that.

Rather typically, the Swiss are staying out of it.

Regulations prohibit nonEU members from registering .eu domains. Only people resident within the EU or have their registered office, central administration or principal place of business within the European Community can apply.

The Netherlands have been scrambling for the best names too, currently coming third in the league table of most registered names.

Unsurprisingly, 280 organisations applied for the name - - including a Dutch church which claimed they wanted the name to promote sex "the way God wanted it".

The now proud owner of, a Swedish company (of course), submitted their application for the name just 1.7 seconds after the opening time. Given that changed hands in January for a whopping $14m, will no doubt be worth more than the 60 odd Euros it would have cost them to register.

The next most sought-after names were (123 applications), (97) and (93). Proving that, after viewing pornography, finding a hotel, booking a holiday and looking for a new job are the favourite on-line pastimes.

Eurid, the non-profit agency that oversees the new net name, has created a virtual adjudication chamber that, while physically based in Prague, will conduct any disputes online.

They have the unenviable job of answering some of bigger questions facing the Internet, and mankind, like: is a "polo" a type of shirt, a car, or a mint with a hole?

The domain was applied for by car maker Volkswagen, fashion house Ralph Lauren and confectionary maker Nestle. Eurid finally awarded the name to VW on the basis of first-come-first-served, which is a bit of a cop out if you ask me.

Eurid hopes that the .eu top level domains will become as sought after as the American controlled dotcoms. However, I doubt their hopes will come true on this side of the channel, given our general level of enthusiasm for things European.

* Chris is managing director of Internet consultancy WAA WebXpress. This and other unedited articles can be found at E-mail