Startup Law

Are owners of .com entitled to the .au version of the same domain?

Website URLs or domain names are a key part of a business’ brand.

However, according to Netregistry, a common mistake made by startup and small business founders is the failure to register all domain name alternatives.

This is because, as Thomson Geer partner Paul Noonan points out, when you enter into an agreement with the registrar for a .com domain name, you do not get any rights over the corresponding .au domain name. If the .au domain name is available, then you can register it separately.

This might be the .com and .au variants, as well as common typos, if you have a difficult to spell domain name. You can use these domains to redirect back to your correct URL.

Domain names have become valuable assets. So much so that there are businesses known as cybersquatters who obtain URLs, in the hope of one day selling that URL to a company that really wants it.

Madgwicks Dudley Kneller points out that if you have relevant trademarks, and you find the domain name you are after is taken, you may have rights which you can enforce against the party who owns the domain name you want.

“This may include seeking to have the domain transferred to you,” Kneller says.

“.. a lawyer will be able to advise on what other options are open to you to protect your business interests and intellectual property rights.”

According to Australia’s Domain Registration Services, depending on the circumstances, you maybe be able to gain control over the domain name you want, if it is being held by a cybersquatter, by lodging a complaint with auDRP.  This process is intended to provide a cheaper, speedier alternative to litigation for domain name disputes.