FOR IP PROFESSIONALS

Domain names

What is a domain name?

A domain name is your online address on the internet. All computers on the internet have a unique identifying number - an Internet Protocol address. Because this address is difficult to remember, we use a domain name.

A domain name is promoted so that customers can easily find your specific goods or services. Each website has its own distinct domain name, allowing it to be distinguishable from other sites. For the most part, domain names are easy to remember because they are usually made up of a business name and a commonly understood term or language that their customers will recognise.

Differences between trade marks, business, company and domain names

Registering a business, company or domain name does not give you any ownership rights over that name - only a trade mark can provide that kind of protection. Make sure you are aware of the differences between trade marks, businesses, company and domain names.

How to get a domain name

As an internet site owner, it is important that you register your domain name to make sure you have the exclusive right to use that name for the duration of the licence period.

Domain names are licensed for a two-year period. In the global domain (known as the global Top Level Domain or gTLD) the licence period is one year. If you don't renew your registration your licence will be cancelled and the domain name will become available for registration by someone else.

Anyone can register an internet domain name in the .au domain by submitting a registration form to an auDA accredited registrar or one of their appointed resellers. There is no restriction on the number of domain names that may be licensed by a registrant; however, an applicant must meet set criteria.

As no two domain names can be exactly the same, it is up to you to search the domain name database, to check that the same or a similar domain name doesn't already exist in another domain (e.g. .net.au, .com.au).

Since 1 July 2002 the .au domain name market has been opened up to competition and registrars/resellers charge different prices.

Applying for a domain name

To apply for a .com.au, .net.au, .org.au, .asn.au or .id.au domain name, choose your preferred registrar and follow their application process.

You can apply for an .edu.au domain name through the Australian Domain Name Administrator.

You can apply for a .gov.au domain name through the Department of Finance and Deregulation.

New generic Top Level Domain (gTLD)

A generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) is an internet domain name extension, such as .com or .net. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the international body responsible for the coordination of the global Domain Name System.

ICANN has developed a new process to allow organisations to operate their own gTLD. This could lead to the introduction of many new gTLDs, not just the familiar .com, .org or .net. There are currently 22 gTLDs, and the new process could expand this to hundreds, including many brand or business names.

Applications for the first round of new gTLDs closed on 30 May 2012.  A list of all the gTLD strings that were applied for in this first round are available. The process is now open for public comment and third party objections.

What can I do if someone applies for a gTLD that represents my brand or trade mark?

If you think that someone has applied for a gTLD that represents your brand or trade mark, you can file an objection with the Dispute Resolution Service Providers (DSPR) selected to administer "legal rights" objections. Rights holders may object where the applied for gTLD string infringes on existing legal rights of the objector. 

Details about these procedures, such as who can file an objection, where and how objections are filed, and how much objections will cost can be found in the ICANN applicants guidebook. 

Further information on new gTLD

Further information is available at the ICANN website and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

Last Updated: 23/11/2013

Meet Stuart
Bachelor of Business Studies (Hons)

Trade Mark Examiner since 2011
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