Changes to .au Domain Rules and Impact on Trademarks

.au Domain Administration Limited (the administrator of .au domain names) is introducing a new set of rules for those who wish to hold, or continue to hold, a .au domain name.

The new rules come into effect on 12 April 2021.

Under the new rules, a person or entity who wishes to rely on an Australian trademark to support its eligibility to hold a .com.au, or .net.au domain name can now only do so if the domain name is an exact match of its Australian trademark. Essentially, the domain name must be “identical to the words which are the subject” of the Australian trademark.

Importantly, this means that all words that appear in the Australian trademark must also appear in the domain name in the exact same order with the exception of:

“DNS identifiers such as com.au”;

“punctuation marks such as an exclamation point or an apostrophe”;

“articles such as ‘a’, ‘the’ or ‘of’; and

“ampersands”.

It will no longer be possible to rely on an Australian trademark to support eligibility for a .com.au or.net.au domain name if the domain name is an abbreviation or acronym of the trademark.

Although the new rules come into effect on 12 April 2021, current domain name registrants will have until renewal of their existing domain name to ensure compliance with the new rules.

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