On 12 April 2021, new .au Domain Administration Rules: Licensing (Licensing Rules) came into force. The Licensing Rules consolidated over 30 auDA Published Policies and introduced some notable rule changes, namely in relation to:
- eligibility and allocation rules for namespaces
- the terms and conditions for licensing .au domain names
- a refreshed complaints process.
In this article, we explain the eligibility and allocation rules for ‘.com.au’ and ‘.net.au' namespaces.
What is auDA?
The .au Domain Administration Limited (auDA) is the administrator and policy body for the .au country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD).
Is your domain name affected?
The Licensing Rules affect .au namespaces created, transferred or renewed after 12 April 2021. Existing domain name licences expiring after 12 April 2021 continue to be governed by the licensing rules applicable at the time of registration or last renewal until the current licence period ends.
Rules for registering a .au domain name
When applying for a licence for .au domain name, registrants must:
- have an Australian presence
- satisfy any eligibility and allocation criteria for the namespace.
All registrants must meet the Australian presence requirement when applying for any namespace in the .au ccTLD. This can be shown including through:
- being registered in Australia, e.g. by having an Australian Company Number or Australian Business Number; or
- being an applicant or owner of an Australian trade mark. Foreign companies selling products online to people in Australia using an Australian trade mark might rely on this section to show Australian presence.
Eligibility criteria – .com.au and .net.au namespaces
The eligibility and allocation criteria differ between namespaces. For .com.au and .net.au namespaces, the namespace’s registrant must be a commercial entity. Further, the domain name must be:
- a match or acronym of the registrant’s name (whether it is a company, business or personal name, name of a related body corporate, partnership or trust); or
- a match of the Australian trade mark; or
- a match or synonym of the registrant’s good or service, the event the registrant registers or sponsors, the activity the registrant facilitates, teaches or trains, or premises which the registrant operates.
Changes to eligibility criteria
If the Australian presence criteria is satisfied by the registrant having an Australian trade mark then, under the new rules, the domain name must be an exact match to all the words subject of the Australian trade mark and in the same order. Under the previous rules, a domain name could be chosen that was closely or substantially connected to the Australian trade mark.
For example, a trade mark owner of “THE TRADE MARK” could register “thetrademark.com.au” or “trademark.com.au” but not “trade.com.au” or “tm.com.au”.
In addition, companies can now apply for and hold .au domain name licences for another company in their corporate group, so long as the related company meets the Australian presence requirement.
What this means for you
The main change affects those using an Australian trade mark to satisfy the Australian presence test, as their domain name needs to be an exact match of the trade mark. If this change affects you, you may need to transfer your domain name licence to an Australian subsidiary, register as a foreign company trading in Australia to be allocated an Australian Registered Business Number, or apply for additional Australian trade marks.