Ray Marshall

Registration of Australian domains at top level (example.au) proposed

Ray Marshall

26 August 2015

Domain Names

auDA, the body in charge of the Australian domain name system, convened a Names Policy Panel late last year to review various aspects of auDA’s current policy.


The Panel released last week its draft recommendations, which propose that Australian’s should be allowed to register domain names directly at the “.au” level (example.au). This would remove current restrictions limiting registrants to a set of standard publicly available domains (“.com.au”, “.net.au”, “.org.au”, “.asn.au” and “.id.au”).


In forming this recommendation, the Panel suggested that the ability to register domain names directly at the .au level would “create names which are shorter, more appealing and more memorable” and “open a wide range of new choices for registrants”.


Opening up registrations at the .au level would have obvious consequences for existing domain registrants and trade mark owners. Greater opportunities for legitimate conflict between competing rights of the same domain (e.g. two businesses using the same trade mark in different fields) may arise. The potential for bad faith registrations (i.e. cybersquatting) also increases.


The Panel acknowledged that some consideration would be required for any implementation of the new policy, however (and unfortunately for existing registrants and trade mark owners) the draft paper explicitly rejects the options of giving preference to existing registrants or offering a “sunrise period” for trade mark owners.


However, the draft paper does recommend that the current restrictions on eligibility to register Australian domain names continue to apply to any direct .au registrations (e.g. registrations limited to Australian entities or foreign entities carrying on business or with a trade mark in Australia).


The draft recommendations are available here.


Comments may be submitted to the Panel for final consultation before the Panel’s final findings are presented to the auDA board. Comments close 30 September 2015.