New Licensing Rules: 12 April 2021

New Licensing Rules apply to registration of Australian Domain Names, including .com.au and .net.au, from 12 April 2021.

The New Rules will apply to all Australian domain names registered or renewed after 12 April 2021. If your Australian Domain Name does not satisfy the New Rules (once effective for your domain name), it may be suspended or cancelled.

In short, foreign entities who own Australian Domain Names and do not have an Australian Presence must have an Australian trade mark application or registration in place which is essentially an exact match to the words in that domain name, after 12 April 2021. Otherwise, that domain name may be suspended or cancelled.

For Australian based entities, the ability to hold domain names has opened up and expanding your domain name portfolio to maximise traffic to your website is an option for you.

Foreign Owners Beware

The New Rules retain the threshold requirement for Australian Domain Name Owners to have an Australian Presence but how Foreign entities can satisfy this requirement is now limited.

Do you have an Australian Trade Mark Application / Registration?

Unless a non-Australian domain name owner has an Australian Registered Body Number (ARBN), it must rely on an Australian trade mark application or registration to establish the Australian Presence requirement and the Domain Name must be an exact match to the words which are the subject matter of the Australian trade mark (excluding the domain name extension, punctuation and a, the, and, or, of and &).

It will not be sufficient if the foreign owner’s domain name abbreviates, is an acronym for, or contains one word from, its Australian trade mark.

Example:

*NB: these domain names are not necessarily available and may already be registered.

Australian Owners Consider New Registrations

Australian business, company, government and organisation Owners will readily satisfy the Australian Presence requirement. However, Australian entities should consider registering a broader range of domain names as the allocation rules have become easier to satisfy.

Are you Maximizing your Domain Name Portfolio?

Domain names can be registered to redirect back to a main domain name website, thereby capturing more internet traffic to a business.

The New Rules permit registration of domain names that match or are an acronym of a trade mark, company, business, statutory, personal name or match or are a synonym of a service, product, event, activity, premises an owner provides/operates.

Example:

*NB: these domain names are not necessarily available and may already be registered.

What to do Now?

Foreign Owners:

Obtain a list of your Australian domain names and check:

  1. Are the Owners of your Australian domain names an Australian affiliate subsidiary company or foreign entity registered in Australia (with an ARBN)?
  2. If your Australian domain names are owned by non-Australian entities, do you have an Australian trade mark that exactly matches the word element/s (excluding the domain name extension, punctuation and a, the, and, or, of and &) of the domain name?

YES? No further action is required.

DCC can help with this due diligence.

NO? If you wish to keep the domain name, then please consider:

  1. Registering an Australian trade mark to satisfy the New Rules; OR
  2. Transferring ownership of your Australian domain names to an Australian affiliate subsidiary company and consider entering an Agreement with that subsidiary regarding its ownership of the domain name; OR
  3. Register your foreign entity in Australia.

If you need more time to develop a strategy, you could consider renewing your domain name before 12 April 2021, extending the time the current Rules apply, if your domain name registration is within the 90 day renewal period.

DCC can help with these steps.

Australia Owners

Obtain a list of your Australian domain names and check:

  1. Can you leverage off your trade mark/business/company name and register more domain names?
  2. Can you expand your domain name portfolio to register terms associated with your business?

DCC is a Melbourne IT reseller and can register your domain name.