Publications / Intellectual Property

27 Oct 11
Transferring of domain names made easier

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Policy change

The Australian Domain Name Administrator (auDA) (the body that administers ‘.au’ domain names in Australia) has recently announced that it will abolish its restriction on the transfer of newly registered domain names within the first six months of registration.

Current transfer requirements

The current auDA transfer (change of registrant) policy was implemented in 2008 and provides that a registrant (owner) of a newly registered ‘.au’ domain name licence must not transfer the licence to another registrant within the first six months of registration.  The intention of the transfer policy was to enforce the requirement in the auDA’s domain name eligibility and allocation policy rules that domain names must not be registered for the sole purpose of resale.

It is possible to overcome the existing six month transfer restriction by applying to the auDA for authorisation of the transfer in certain circumstances.  However, this causes a significant administrative burden for both the auDA and domain name registrants applying for a transfer.

The policy change is based on the recommendations of the auDA’s Secondary Market Working Group which indicated that since the transfer policy was implemented, a large number of applications to transfer domain name licences in the first six months of registration were authorised by auDA, indicating that the policy was not having its intended effect.  Further, the transfer policy only applied to newly registered domain names and did not prevent immediate re-sale of existing domain name licences purchased on the secondary market.

What this means for you

The auDA’s new policy is expected to take effect on 10 November 2011 and will bring Australia into line with the transfer requirements of other countries.

Once the change is made, the transfer of newly registered ‘.au’ domain names will be easier for both registrants and the auDA by allowing newly registered domains to be transferred to a new registrant at any time.

Of course, as with all ‘.au’ domain name extensions, the new registrant must meet the auDA’s eligibility requirements in order to be eligible to hold the domain name licence.  The new policy will also not change the auDA’s existing domain name eligibility and allocation policy rules which provide that ‘.au’ domain names must not be registered for the sole purpose of re-sale.

Domain names are becoming increasingly important and owners should look to register important brands as domain names along with trade marks and businesses names.

Focus covers legal and technical issues in a general way. It is not designed to express opinions on specific cases. Focus is intended for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice.  Further advice should be obtained before taking action on any issue dealt with in this publication.

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