EU web 'hijack' hazard.
This is the claim by Darlington solicitor Ross Paterson, who says that unless a business secures its own .eu domain name, competitors could step in and make the .eu name their own.
While the commission is giving priority to companies with recognised rights to a .eu name, such as trademark holders, as long as they register on or before April 6, public bodies can register now.
Ross Paterson, of North-east law firm Blackett Hart and Pratt, said businesses with some prior rights can start registering from February - but for everyone else names will be assigned on a first come, first served basis from April 6.
Mr Paterson said he expected take up of .eu names to be significant, especially for those businesses that wanted to have a pan-European identity for their website and also their e-mail addresses.
But he warned that it could also provide fresh opportunities for so-called "cyber squatters".
He said: "In the past, cyber squatters, or individuals or companies that register a domain name with no intention of using it, have virtually held to ransom legitimate users who want to establish their company name on the Internet.
"The .eu domain provides a whole new range of possibilities for cyber squatters so companies may want to consider registering their name as soon as they're allowed to in order to protect their rights."
Independent organisation EURid - the European Registry of Internet Domain Names - has been selected by the European Commission to operate the new registry for .eu.
Registration costs 45 euros (about pounds 30) plus 10 euros (about pounds 7) per year thereafter and applications have to be filed through approved registrars who can add their own costs.