From 24 March, users will be able to register a second level .au domain name, which is a domain name directly followed by .au, such as domainname.au. Second level .au names have not previously been available in Australia, where options have been limited to third level .au names, such as domainname.com.au and domainname.net.au. We previously reported on the new general purpose namespace to be offered by the .au Domain Administration (auDA) here.
The priority allocation period for the second level .au namespace will run from 24 March to 20 September 2022. During this period:
- second level .au domain names corresponding with a third level .au domain name will be reserved to give current registrants the first chance to apply to secure second level .au domain names that are likely to be of interest; and
- second level .au domain names that do not correspond to any existing third level .au domain names will be available for registration by the general public.
Domain names will be available to register for periods of one to five years.
All second level .au domain names that correspond to any existing third level .au domain names (meaning all .com.au, .net.au, .org.au, .asn.au, .id.au, .edu.au and .gov.au domain names) will be reserved. Registrants eligible for a second level .au domain name must apply for priority status to register the second level .au domain name that matches their current third level .au domain name.
During the priority allocation period, reserved second level .au domain names will be allocated as follows:
- if there is only one eligible applicant for priority status, that applicant will be able to register and commence use of the relevant second level .au domain name shortly after applying for priority status;
- all applicants will be categorised as Category One or Category Two, and if there are several eligible applicants, auDA will consider the priority category of the applicants:
- an applicant will fall into Category One if they registered their corresponding third level .au domain name on or before 4 February 2018; or
- an applicant will fall into Category Two if they registered their corresponding third level .au domain name after 4 February 2018;
- if there are several eligible applicants, Category One applicants will prevail over Category Two applicants;
- if there are multiple Category One applicants, the parties must reach an agreement on allocation of the second level .au domain name, otherwise the name will not be allocated to any of the applicants;
- if there are multiple Category Two applicants, the second level .au domain name will be allocated to the applicant with the earliest corresponding third level .au domain name; and
- if no applications are filed for a reserved domain name, it will become available to the general public at the conclusion of the priority allocation period on 20 September 2022.
Importantly, all registrants eligible for priority status must apply to have that status recognised. Even if you are the only eligible registrant for a particular second level .au domain name, it will not be registered to you unless you apply for priority status during the priority allocation period. It may still be possible to register the domain name after the priority allocation period has ended, but you will run the risk of a third party beating you to register your valuable domain name.
auDA has made a Priority Status Tool available, which reveals whether a certain domain name is reserved, and if so, how many parties are eligible to apply for priority status, what category they will fall into and whether or not they have yet applied for priority status.
There will be a fee payable upon application (or registration in respect of a second level .au domain name that is not reserved), which will be determined by each individual Registrar.
If you apply for priority status in respect of a second level .au domain name, your eligibility to hold your existing domain name will be verified at the same time. Accordingly, businesses should take this opportunity to conduct an audit of their domain name portfolios, review the Australian presence eligibility criteria and ensure that registration details are accurate and up to date.
We recommend that you apply during the priority allocation period to secure the second level .au domain name corresponding to the existing third level .au domain name that you already hold. Otherwise, a third party may be able to register the second level .au domain name corresponding to your valuable existing third level .au domain name at the conclusion of the priority allocation period.
HWL Ebsworth’s experienced Intellectual Property team has extensive experience handling domain name portfolios and can assist with .au direct domain names.
This article was written by Luke Dale, Partner, Daniel Kiley, Special Counsel and Kelly Williamson, Solicitor.