By Sally Foreman, Principal, Davies Collison Cave, Melbourne.
New Licensing Rules now apply to registration of Australian Domain Names, including.com.au and.net.au.
Specifically, the New Rules 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 Registered Body Number (ARBN) must now have an Australian trade mark application or registration in place which is essentially an exact match to the words in that domain name. 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.
Owners of Australian Domain Names registered before 12 April 2021 can use the time they have before the domain name is due for renewal to assess whether their domain name satisfies the New Rules and, if they do not, adopt an appropriate strategy to ensure the domain name will satisfy the New Rules at renewal.
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 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.