On 12 April 2021 a new set of rules for the .au country code top level domain (ccTLD) comes into effect.
You can read the rules here: .au Domain Administration Rules: Licensing
This new set of rules contains some changes for com.au and net.au domain name licences.
The new rules come into effect on 12 April 2021. All .au domain names registered or renewed on or after this date will be subject to the new licensing rules.
If your domain name licence expires after 12 April 2021 the rules in place at the time you registered or last renewed your domain name will apply until the end of the current licence period. If the name is renewed the new licensing rules will apply to it as the new licence is only crated
Main changes for the com.au and net.au spaces:
- Using a trade mark to meet the Australian presence test
- An expanded definition of a corporate entity
- Related bodies corporate rule
Using a Trade Mark to meet the Australian Presence requirement
To be eligible to hold any name in the .au ccTLD you must first meet the Australian Presence requirement.
One of the ways you can meet the Australian Presence requirement is by holding an Australian Trade Mark (including a pending Trade Mark application) that appears on IP Australia’s Trade Mark database.
This method is often used by foreign business entities to meet the eligibility criteria for com.au or net.au domain names.
Previously for the com.au and net.au namespaces, if you were using an Australian Trade Mark as the basis for meeting the Australian presence requirement, you could choose a name that was ‘closely and substantially connected’ to your Trade Mark.
In the new licensing rules for the com.au namespace if you are using an Australian Trade Mark as the basis for meeting the Australian presence requirement, the name you choose must be an exact match to the words which are the subject matter of the Australian Trade Mark.
As described in the definitions of the Licensing Rules an exact match means:
“… 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 com.au;
- punctuation marks such as an exclamation point or an apostrophe;
- articles such as ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘and ’or ‘of’; and
If your name is not an exact match of the words in the trademark, you will be ineligible to hold that com.au or net.au domain.
Under the new rules, if your trademark is “A Pretty Horse Carousels”
You could have:
What you can do if this change affects you
This change affects com.au and net.au registrants who :
- use a trademark as the basis for meeting the Australian presence requirement;
- have a name which is not an exact match of their trademark as defined by the new licensing rules.
To remain eligible for your domain name you should change the basis on which you meet the Australian presence requirement, however if this involves changing the legal entity the name is registered to, the name will need to be transferred to that new entity.
Related bodies corporate
In the new licensing rules, companies can now apply for and hold .au domain name licences on behalf of another company in their corporate group (a ‘related body corporate’), as long as that related company meets the Australian presence requirement.
The exception to this is registrars, who cannot apply for or hold a .au domain name on behalf of a related body corporate as it may cause a conflict of interest.
Definition of a commercial entity expanded and updated
A ‘commercial entity’ is eligible to register a domain name in the com.au and net.au namespaces.
In the new licensing rules, the definition of ‘commercial entity’ has been expanded to include Commonwealth entities, statutory bodies under commonwealth state or territory legislation, incorporated limited partnerships under State or Territory legislation, trading co-operatives and the government being the crown.