New .au domain names coming to Australia

by , | Sep 21, 2021

New .au domain names will be available in Australia from 24 March 2022.  From this date, individuals, businesses and organisations with an Australian presence will be able to register a name of their choosing directly before the .au namespace (e.g. yournamehere.au).  Unlike the existing namespaces, .au domain names do not have to match the name of an individual, business or organisation, or alternatively identify the goods or services provided.  The .au namespace will allow shorter, potentially more memorable domain names to be registered.

Applications must be made through .au Domain Administration-accredited registrars, are subject to auDA licensing rules, and the allocation process summarised below applies.  This process should help to prevent domain name squatting.  However, it relies on those with a legitimate interest in obtaining .au domain names being aware of the process and the timing issues, as described below.

Allocation of domain names

Applications for .au domain names will be granted on a first come, first served basis from 24 March 2022, except where a corresponding domain name with an Australian namespace (e.g. com.au, net.au, org.au, edu.au and gov.au) (Corresponding AU Domain Name) already exists.  In such cases, the .au domain name will be reserved for a six-month priority period during which only the owners of Corresponding AU Domain Names will be eligible to apply for the .au domain name (referred to as Priority Applications).  For example, if the domain names yournamehere.com.au and yournamehere.gov.au already exist, the domain name yournamehere.au will be reserved until 24 September 2022.

Where there is only one owner of a Corresponding AU Domain Name and that owner makes a Priority Application, the .au domain name will be allocated to that applicant soon after the application date.  Where there are two or more owners of Corresponding AU Domain Names but only one owner makes a Priority Application, the .au domain name will be allocated to the applicant soon after the priority period ends.

Where none of the owners of a Corresponding AU Domain Name make a Priority Application, the .au domain name will be available to anyone from 24 September 2022 on a first come, first served basis.

In circumstances where two or more owners of Corresponding AU Domain Names make Priority Applications for the same .au domain name, that domain name will be allocated according to the following scheme:

  • Category 1 applicants: owners of Corresponding AU Domain Names created on or before 4 February 2018.
  • Category 2 applicants: owners of Corresponding AU Domain Names created after 4 February 2018.
  • Category 1 applicants have priority of over category 2 applicants, so where there is only one category 1 applicant, the .au domain name will be allocated to that applicant.
  • If there are two or more category 1 applicants, the .au domain name will be allocated amongst them only if they are able to agree who will own it. If agreement cannot be reached, the .au domain name will remain unallocated.  The domain name could be allocated in a subsequent year if only one category 1 Priority Application is made.
  • If there are only category 2 applicants, the .au domain name will be allocated to the applicant whose Corresponding AU Domain Name has the earliest creation date.

Recommendations

Individuals, businesses and organisations interested in registering .au domain names where there is no Corresponding AU Domain Name should be quick to do so from 24 March 2022 or risk the domain name being allocated to someone else.  If it is possible to obtain a Corresponding AU Domain Name before that date, they should consider doing so to obtain a priority right to the .au domain name.

If owners of Corresponding AU Domain Names would like to own an equivalent .au domain name, they should make sure to apply for the domain name between 24 March 2022 and 24 September 2022.   If they do not, they risk the .au domain name being allocated to someone else.

Joanne Grant

Joanne Grant

Trade Mark Attorney

Joanne is passionate about branding. With 14 years’ experience in intellectual property focusing on trade marks, anti-counterfeiting, brand protection and enforcement, she is seasoned, clear and strategic.

She has a keen interest in helping clients implement strategies to protect their brand.

Alex May

Alex May

Senior Associate, Foreign Qualified Lawyer

Alex is an intellectual property disputes lawyer with twelve years’ experience and a track record of obtaining successful outcomes for clients. He specialises in advising pharmaceutical companies on patent litigation and related matters and has a technical background in genetics.

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