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How Will the New .AU Domain Licensing Rules Impact You?

The .AU Domain Administration (auDA) will soon implement new .AU domain administration licensing rules either late this year or early next year. These rules apply to new registrations and around 3 million existing domain names in the com.au, net.au, org.au, and more .AU namespaces.

What's changing?

Previously, an Australian trademark application or registration may constitute the required Australian presence for an .AU domain name, but the domain name need not match the trademark.

Under the new rules, a domain name registration based on an Australian trademark must exactly match the trademark. That is, the domain name is identical to and is of the same order as the words that are the subject of an Australian trademark application or registration, excluding domain name system (DNS) identifiers such as com.au, punctuation marks, articles such as "a," "the," "and," and "of," and "&."

Trademark exampleExample of an exact match domain name
Tweedledee & Tweedledumtweedledeetweedledum.com.au
The Frog Prince!frogprince.org.au

What's the impact?

Non-compliant domain names must have their errors corrected before they come up for renewal any time after the new rules are implemented.

Failing to comply could mean that auDA or the managing registrar could suspend or cancel the non-compliant domain. Once a domain name is canceled, it may not be transferred or renewed. It will be purged from the registry records and made available for registration by the general public.

Before deciding that it might be okay to purge a few domains, be cautious that lapsed or abandoned domain names  carry a footprint of digital activity that can be leveraged as an attack vector or cause disruption to a virtual private network (VPN), voice-over IP (VoIP), website, services, servers, network or email, and a host of other dependencies.

As a rule of thumb for the domains you want to maintain, all domain registrants are obligated to keep their domain information complete, true, and accurate throughout the lifetime of their domain names. Similarly, all .AU domain registrants are continually required to have a valid Australian presence and satisfy any eligibility and allocation criteria for the namespace being applied for.

What to look out for, and why it's important

Registrant contacts and entity information changed over time may not have been applied to domain portfolios, and this licensing rules change presents a great opportunity for domain registrants to ensure their domain information is up-to-date.

First, run an audit of all .AU domain names, then update non-compliant .AU domain names.

Additionally, this domain information should be reviewed thoroughly:

  1. The business registration number (ABN or ACN for example) where applicable
  2. Registrant contact information
  3. Technical and administrator contact information
  4. WHOIS data
  5. All other data in registry records

Cleaning up your .AU domain portfolio not only makes you compliant with the new rules, but enables you to be eligible to participate in the launch of the top-level .AU domain that is widely expected to take place in the first half of 2021.

Having inaccurate domain information could lead to suspension or cancellation of domain names by domain registries. Organizations not only become vulnerable to losing control of their domain names, websites, or applications when their existing domains expire, but also lose the opportunity to lay their claim to the shorter top-level .AU domains.

By Connie Hon – Connie is the domain product manager at CSC for their Digital Brand Services division. Based in Singapore, she's worked in the domains and online brand protection industry since 2013, and is part of a global team responsible for developing domain-related products and services. Visit Page

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