auDA is the administrator of and self-regulatory policy body for the .au domain. We manage the .au as a trusted public resource for the benefit of all Australians.
auDA’s Licensing Framework was developed in consultation with stakeholders, and we administer the .au Licensing Rules, which are the basis for domain name registrations, in line with our Compliance Posture.
The rules uphold the following fundamental principles:
- There are no proprietary rights in a domain name
- There is no hierarchy of rights and domain names are registered on a first come, first served basis.
The rules require a person applying for a .au domain name licence to have an Australian presence and satisfy any eligibility and allocation criteria for the namespace they are applying for (e.g. com.au, org.au, gov.au, .au direct).
The first complete application submitted by an eligible person for a domain name is accepted. The person who registers the domain name (the registrant) needs to ensure they remain eligible for the entire time they hold the licence.
We have two different processes for dealing with complaints and disputes about domain names. The process used will depend on whether the complaint involves:
- Eligibility for the domain name licence; or an
- Intellectual property rights dispute
1. Eligibility complaints
Begin by addressing your complaint to the domain name registrar. If this does not resolve the issue, you can ask auDA to review the decision made by a registrar. There are two levels of auDA reviews available to you: first by a compliance officer and next an internal review by an auDA Senior Manager.
If any party is unhappy with auDA’s review outcome, they can refer the issue to the Licence Review Panel (LRP). The LRP will undertake an independent review of auDA’s decision. You can read about the LRP here.
2. Intellectual property rights disputes
Where someone believes another party’s domain name registration infringes their intellectual property rights, the dispute can be managed under the .au Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP).
The auDRP process involves lodging a complaint with an approved auDRP provider, which incurs a fee. Once submitted, the complaint is reviewed by a panel appointed by the auDRP provider from its listed panellists.
When making a complaint, you must state the outcome you seek if your complaint is successful. You can request:
- Cancellation of the domain name licence – if your complaint is successful, the existing registrant will lose the domain name licence and the domain name will become available for registration by the public.
- Transfer of the domain name licence to you – if your complaint is successful and you are eligible to hold the licence, the domain name will be transferred to you. It is important you ensure that you are eligible to hold the domain name under the .au Licensing Rules, otherwise the transfer will not be able to go ahead.
The panel will consider submissions from both parties and provide their decision, with reasons, in writing.
Panel decisions are binding on both parties. However, if either party is not happy with the outcome, they have the option of taking legal action. The parties have 10 days from the date of the panel’s decision to start legal proceedings, before the panel’s decision is implemented.
To learn more about the auDRP process or past auDRP decisions, you can read the auDRP overview covering August 2002 to July 2014 here. The second edition of the auDRP overview from 2014 to 2021 will be released later in 2022.