In just a few weeks’ time anyone with a verified connection to Australia will be able to apply for a shorter domain name, commonly referred to as a “second level name” or the “.au namespace”.
From 24 March 2022, applications can be made:
- to licence new direct .au domain names that are not already licenced in any existing domain which ends in .au; and
- for the exact match of any existing .au domain name, e.g. a corresponding com.au or org.au, etc.
New direct .au domain names will be available to the public on a first come, first served basis as they are not already registered in any other .au namespace.
Exact matches of existing .au domain names will be allocated according to the Priority Allocation Process, discussed further below.
Whilst strict allocation rules remain relevant for existing .au domain name licensees who may wish to take advantage of the Priority Allocation Process for direct .au domain names, any new direct .au domain names do not need to meet the same criteria. New applicants for direct .au domain names need only meet the ‘Australian presence’ requirement, however are otherwise free to licence any available direct .au domain name, subject to basic requirements around characters etc.
Licensees who already hold a domain in a .au namespace will have six months from 24 March 2022 until 20 September 2022 (“Priority Application Period”) to apply for its exact direct .au domain name match.
Priority Allocation Process
Existing .au domain name licensees who wish to secure a direct .au domain name should ensure that they are eligible to do so (including by continuing to meet the allocation rules mentioned above), and apply during the six-month Priority Allocation Period. If not, the ‘priority status’ is lost and the direct .au domain name is made available to the public for registration as a ‘new’ direct .au domain name.
Exact matches of existing .au domain names will be put on hold for the Priority Application Period to prevent them from being registered by others, and to allow existing .au licensees the first opportunity to license their corresponding direct .au domain names.
auDA has identified that in some cases there may be more than one applicant for the same .au direct domain name, as there are different licensees that hold the same .au domain in different namespaces.
- the Australian Broadcasting Commission currently owns abc.net.au and also abc.com.au; and
- Adventist Book Centre Australia currently owns abc.org.au.
Both registrants will be eligible to apply for abc.au.
In situations like this, the direct .au domain name will be allocated according to the Priority Allocation Process, which assigns categories to existing domain name licensees depending on the creation date of the existing .au domain name. There are two categories for this purpose:
Existing .au domain name licences with a creation date on or before 4 February 2018
Domain name licences with a creation date later than 4 February 2018
The allocation is determined as follows:
- Category 1 applicants have priority over Category 2 applicants;
- multiple Category 1 applicants must engage in direct negotiations and agree on the allocation. If the applicants cannot reach an agreement, the direct .au domain name will remain unallocated; and
- between multiple Category 2 applicants, the direct .au domain name is allocated to the applicant with the existing .au domain name with the earliest creation date.
If no priority status is claimed by the end of the six-month Priority Allocation Period, the direct .au domain name will become publicly available for license in line with the process for a new direct .au domain name.
Any disputes related to direct .au domain names will be determined pursuant to the auDRP or a complaint under .au Licensing Rules.
Michael Buck IP is available to assist with any auDRP complaints processes before WIPO. Please reach out to Geraldine Rimmer if you require assistance with any existing or direct .au domain name disputes.