Online presence is a powerful tool in modern business. This is especially important for family businesses, which are more likely to trade on their family name and history. Building and maintaining your brand these days can begin and end with your online presence. Having a domain name that ends with .au shows customers at a glance that you are based in Australia, providing confidence and trust in your website and by extension your brand.
The new domain name suffix “.au” instead of the existing “.com.au” and similar, is designed to give easier access to people looking to create their online presence. Simply requiring a verifiable local connection to Australia such as an ABN, or proof of Australian residency/citizenship, allows individual entrepreneurs, artists, families, and many others easy access to do just that.
Australia is not the first country to do this. Indeed, countries including New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, and France have all created a similar shorter domain option. Importantly, this allows for shorter, more memorable names that are easily displayed on mobile devices.
But this does have implications for businesses with an existing online presence that ends with “.com.au”, “.net.au” and others. So, what do you need to know about the new .au domain, and how does it affect your business?
Why would I want to register a .au domain?
Besides the points previously listed a strong reason is to protect your brand. It could be that someone else simply likes your domain name, but it could also be a competitor looking to redirect customers to their website, or even someone more nefarious aiming to trick your customers and partners into thinking they are you.
The Australian Government’s lead agency for cyber security, ACSC, recommends that all Australian businesses take the opportunity to register any exactly matching domains they already have. But time is running out! Right now, if you already have a domain ending in .com.au or similar you can apply for Priority Allocation of a matching .au domain. The priority allocation period ends on the 20th of September 2022. Then, from the 4th of October 2022, if a priority allocation request has not been submitted for a .au domain, anyone can register for it. Once a domain is registered to someone else, it becomes increasingly more difficult to contest their ownership and may involve lengthy and costly legal proceedings, not to mention brand damage.
How can I register my business’ com.au domain as a .au domain before someone else?
The simplest thing to do is to register it through your existing domain registrar, however, you can register for a .au domain via any accredited registrar. Simply log in to your domain registrar’s site and search for a matching .au domain to your current domain. As part of the process, the registrar may automatically fill out your Priority Allocation information but if not, you can find your Priority Token which you will need in order to complete the registration process here: Priority Token Retrieval.
What do I need to do if my “Priority Allocation” is contested?
A priority allocation can be contested when two parties attempt to register a .au domain, prior to the 20th of September, but both have equal claims – i.e. party 1 has “.com. au” and party 2 has “.net.au”. If this happens in your case, you will need to contact the other party directly and see if you can work out a compromise. You will be provided with the contact information for the other party who has registered their interest in the .au domain. If no compromise is reached, then neither party can register the domain and it goes unused.
What happens if someone else gets a domain similar to mine and abuses it?
If someone else has registered a domain similar to yours, then you may need to refer the matter for investigation. It is important to understand that auDA (the body responsible for administering the rules for domain names in the .au country code) can only investigate domain name registrations where there is a breach or potential breach of the .au licensing rules. If the rules have not been breached but you believe your intellectual property rights (such as a trademark) are being infringed, then there is a separate dispute resolution process. Either way, it is critical to start the process and Submit a Complaint as soon as possible.
I’m still not sure what to do here and I need help
Navigating this process can seem complex if you are not particularly technically savvy. For advice or assistance, reach out to Majestic Computer Technology.
Written by Majestic Computer Technology
|Majestic is an Australian Family Business that has been successfully building and delivering IT solutions in Australia for decades. Established in 1992, Majestic provides advisory, outsourced IT, and business automation services to various small and medium-sized clients across multiple industries, including manufacturing, professional services, construction and engineering, health and life sciences, and the NFP sector. In addition to being a partner and member, Majestic is also the IT service provider for FBANZ. Contact details are available here: www.majestic.com.au|
The views expressed in this content are those of the author, who is also responsible for any errors and omissions. Family Business Australia and New Zealand provides this article for your information only. The content of the article should not be taken as advice. If you wish to explore this topic, please consult an advisor who you consider to have the expertise to provide specific advice in relation to your family business.