The European Commission has launched a consultation paper to tackle the problem of cybersquatting, in anticipation of the launch of .eudomain names early next year.

The Internal Market Directorate General is hoping to gain feedback from businesses and individuals that have been affected by cybersquatting in the past, and to receive suggestions about how it could be stopped.

"We want to prevent abuses by cybersquatters in the future .eu top level domain, without hindering legitimate internet users. The consultation will help us to do that," said Internal Market commissioner Fritz Bolkestein.

Cybersquatting occurs when people who have no legitimate interest in a domain name register it 'in bad faith', with the intention of selling it on for a huge profit at a later date.

"Clearly we must ensure that as many European businesses and organisations as possible can benefit from [.eu names]. Cybersquatting could prejudice our efforts to make .eu the engine to boost internet use and e-commerce in Europe."

The online questionnaire will be available at until 31 October 2002.