Internet Domain Name Law
Legal Aspects and Eligibility
If you are starting a website, you will need a register a domain name. An Australian domain name, such as .com.au, signifies that the website is compliant with Australian business protocols and law.
Registering your website with a ‘.com.au’ domain name ensures that it is viewed with legitimacy.
auDA – .au Domain Administration
auDA is the regulator for .au domains registered in Australia. auDA publishes strict eligibility criteria for registered .au domains, and has the power to revoke domain name licenses that do not meet these criteria. You cannot register a domain directly with auDA, but they do publish a list of accredited registrars. Once registered, you will be given a licence to use the domain name for a period of two years, with the right to renew. A single registrant can apply for as many domain names as they like, as there is no limit on the number of licences an individual can be granted. The cost for registering a domain name varies depending on which registrar is used and the type of domain being registered.
Some examples of the eligibility requirements for domain name registrants:
- The registrant must be trading under a business name that is registered on the Australian national business register;
- Australian registered companies are eligible to register;
- Australian partnerships are eligible to register;
- An applicant for or owner of an Australian Registered Trade Mark is eligible to register;
- Incorporated Associations or Australian Statutory bodies registered in any Australian State or Territory are eligible to register;
- As are foreign companies licensed to trade in Australia.
Disputes related to domain names – Internet Domain Name Law
Trademark infringement may occur if you use a registered trademark in your domain name.
Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy
The Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy or UDRP lists a set of protocols regarding the resolution of global top level domain name disputes. The UDRP requires that registrars resolve domain name disputes through agreement, arbitration, or court action, before cancelling, suspending, or transferring the disputed domain name. In order to invoke the UDRP, a complaint may be made to a court against the domain name holder you wish to dispute. You may also invoke the UDRP by registering a complaint with a dispute-resolution service provider.
Cybersquatting – Internet Domain Name Law
Cybersquatting is the name given to a situation in which an unauthorised party which has no legitimate interest in a domain name registers a domain that is very similar or even identical to one that legitimately belongs (through trademark or otherwise) to another business. Cybersquatting often occurs for the perpetrator’s commercial gain. They may wish to resell the domain name to the legitimate owner, or generate advertising revenue through the domain.
Passing off – Internet Domain Name Law
There is a common law tort which refers to passing off designed to protect the holders of unregistered trademarks. This tort may be used to protect your interests relating to a domain name. It is advisable that you contact an intellectual property lawyer to determine your rights in this case.
Phishing – Internet Domain Name Law
Phishing occurs where fake websites or email addresses are designed to look like legitimate businesses. These are then used to gather people’s personal information for illicit purposes, such as identity theft.