There are still a few weeks for parties who have priority to claim .au domain ownership before the opportunity is lost.
The priority allocation will end on 24 September, and after that date, names will become available for general release.
In future, .au domains are likely to be preferred domain extensions for several reasons, including:
- More favourable use on mobile devices, with a shorter web address
- The perception that.au domains are more secure and less exposed to cybercrime than other (second level) domains, because:
- Domain holders must prove they have a connection with Australia
- Validation and post-registration checks will be undertaken by the Australian domain registry (AuDA)
- A more streamlined complaints process will exist
- Registrant details will be made public, for increased accountability.
Not only is this an opportunity, but an essential juncture for all webpage owners to review their business’s intellectual property. As a matter of good governance, this should be undertaken to ensure consistency of registration across domains, company and business names, and trademarks.
There is potential for abuse of the new domains by parties who wish to redirect website traffic to a corresponding .au domain to gain an advantage (including undertaking phishing attacks and the like) through improper usage of the new domain extension.
What to Do Now?
Organisations should be reviewing their existing domains and considering whether to seek priority of registration prior to 24 September 2022.
Organisations should also be making sure that they meet the registration requirements under the new .au rules, irrespective of whether they wish to make an application through the priority allocation of names before 24 September 2022.
Some organisations should more strongly consider their position. Domain holders who have multiple entities in their corporate group should ensure (and not just assume) that the correct entity holds the domain. There will be greatly increased scrutiny regarding this in the future, not only on the registration but also on the renewal of existing domains. Similarly, any organisation which licences the use of a domain (including franchised businesses) must consider the new restrictions on licencing/leasing domains and sub-domains.
Should I Review My Trademarks?
Organisations should also start to review their trademarks as part of the .au domain release, as trademarks have always provided a form of protection against domain infringement and cyber squatters. That protection extends to the use of trademarks which are used/contained in domain names, website content, and metatags, where they are used to improve search engine results.
The implementation of the new .au domain rules is likely to make it more important for organisations to take a consistent approach across their various name registrations (i.e., domain, business/company name, and trademark) to properly protect their brands and reputation.
Organisations may also leverage their trademarks/business/company name to register new domains and generate the referral of traffic back to an organisation’s main website.
Consideration could also be given to registering domains containing terms or trademarks associated with the organisation and vice versa, including product or event names, particularly where linked to trademarks.
If you are unsure whether you are entitled to a priority domain allocation what the new .au domains mean for your business, or whether you should review your trademarks, don’t delay – call me on (07) 3224 0261.