Australian domain name rule changes

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After 12 April 2021, new rules will come into effect for .au and domain names and every business owner and not-for-profit organisation should be aware of them.

The CEO of auDA which is a not-for-profit organisation that works with a range of stakeholders including industry, government, and the Australian and international community to develop and administer the rules for domains in the .au country code Top-level Domain (ccTLD) said,

“I’m pleased to share that the new .au domain licensing rules will launch on 12 April 2021.

“This signifies an important step forward in .au governance – modernising the policy framework, ensuring the .au domain can respond to the changing needs of internet users, and continuing to build trust and confidence in .au namespaces.”

The .au ccTLD is part of Australia’s critical infrastructure, and we have been endorsed by the Commonwealth Government to ensure it is a safe, accessible, and trusted Australian public asset for all internet users. They also represent Australia’s interests internationally and have an agreement with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – the international body covering ccTLDs.

What are the Australian domain name changes?

Currently when you use to register an ‘.au’ domain you must prove that you have a presence in Australia. You were able do this by proving that you were the owner of a trade mark that was “closely and substantially connected” to the actual domain that you were trying to register.

Well, no more is that the case. Going forward you will have to show it is an exact match and that is defined as:

“… that the domain name being applied for is identical to the words which are the subject of an Australian Trade Mark. The domain name must include all the words in the order in which they appear in the Australian Trade Mark, excluding:

  • DNS identifiers such as
  • punctuation marks such as an exclamation point or an apostrophe
  • articles such as ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘and ‘or ‘of’; and
  • ampersands.”

The new auDA Rules for domain names have been altered to only include not-for-profit entities. Unincorporated associations will not be eligible for an domain name. However, unincorporated associations which are registered with an Australian Charity and Not-for-profits Commission remain eligible.

Complaints process

It is also important to know that the new auDA Rules has introduced a four-tiered complaints process which will:

  • consider the initial complaint
  • review the registrar’s decision
  • conduct an internal review of auDA’s decision, and
  • consider an external review.

How can we help?

It is important to make sure that if your domain name registration expires after 12 April 2021 you do not ignore this. The current regime will be in place until the expiration but there will not be any other indulgence.

Our team has extensive experience in domain names and intellectual property and can assist with your needs.

Contact our team today to discuss.

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