Registration of .au domains by foreigners

10 11 2011

We are often asked, is it possible for someone who isn’t Australian to register .au domains names. The simple answer is yes absolutely!

In Australia we have a requirement that a registrant of a domain name must be ‘eligible’ to hold that domain name.

There is a specific policy which regulates eligibility, this is called the Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules for Open 2LDs (‘the Policy’). As there are tough requirements on registering .org.au, most foreign registrants are likely to only be eligible to hold .net.au and com.au domain names if they are able to satisfy the eligibility requirements.

For foreign registrants these requirements for eligibility (for .com.au and .net.au) have a 2 step process, eligibility and entitlement to register.

Eligibility

To be eligible a foreign registrant must be:

  1.  A foreign company licensed to trade in Australia – in order to do this a foreign company must obtain an ARBN which is registration to trade in Australia through the Australian Securities and Investments Commission; or
  2.  An owner of an Australian Registered Trade Mark; or
  3.  An application for an Australian Registered Trade Mark – this is important as an application for an Australian Registered Trade Mark is sufficient, it doesn’t actually have to be registered.

One a registrant is able to demonstrate eligibility, it has satisfied the first step.

 Entitlement to Register

The entitlement to register comes down to this, a domain name must be:

  1.  An exact match, abbreviation or acronym of the registrant’s name or trademark; or
  2. Otherwise closely and substantially connected to the registrant – some examples of this may be that the domain name represents a product or service the registrant sells.

Examples

An example of a foreign entity who can register a domain name may be a USA Company, Ted’s Computers LLC. Ted’s Computers LLC applies to register the trade mark, Ted’s Super Computers and Accessories.

Even though the application for the trade mark has not been registered Ted’s Computers LLC could register tedssupercomputersandaccessories.com.au (which is an exact match of the registrant’s trade mark) or it could register TSCA (which is an abbreviation or acronym of the registrant’s or trademark) or tedscomputers.com.au (which is an exact match of the registrant’s name).

Ted’s Computers could also register names that it has a close and substantial connection to for example computers.com.au, routers.com.au, monitors.com.au, printers.com.au, keyboards.com.au, mouse.com.au, computercamera.com.au – as these are all products that Ted’s Computers sells.

 How to become eligible

If you would like to become eligible then Cooper Mills Lawyers can assist you to:

  1. Obtain an ARBN and become a foreign registered company entitled to trade in Australia;
  2. Register an Australian Trade Mark – this is the easiest and quickest way to become eligible.
  3. Understand all aspects of policy and provide strategic advice.

*This blog post is based on the Policy position as at 9 November 2011. This is not legal advice and you should obtain legal advice specific to your particular circumstances.

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