auDA to auction generic domain names

Australia

The administrator of '.au' domain names, auDA, has launched an application and auction process for more than 3,000 previously restricted generic domain names.

Generic domain names describe or represent a commercial category, occupation or industry, such as 'shopping.com.au' and 'sport.com.au'. Such domain names were previously unavailable to businesses in Australia because it was felt that registration would give the registrant an unfair competitive advantage.

This prohibition on generic domain names in '.com.au' has now been removed as part of auDA's new domain name policy which is being developed to provide a greater degree of consistency and predictability in the allocation of '.au' domain names. The prohibition on the use of geographic names, such as 'queensland.com.au', will remain in place until auDA has completed a policy review on this issue later in the year.

Applications for the domain names up for auction must be made by January 31. Applicants must have been eligible under the '.com.au' policy since August 13 last year in order to make a successful application. This requirement aims to provide a level playing field and to prevent applicants from establishing a business specifically to obtain a particular generic domain name. The new policy also limits eligible applicants to commercial entities registered and trading in Australia, or owners or applicants of an Australian registered trademark. Additionally, the domain names applied for must match or be closely associated with the registrant's company name or its trademarks. auDA considers that strict eligibility criteria will minimize the risk of large multinationals and domain name speculators reserving large numbers of desirable names.

If an eligible applicant is the only applicant for a particular domain name, the name will be reserved for that applicant. If there is more than one eligible applicant for a name, an auction for the name will be conducted online at www.stuff.com.au. If no applications are received for generic domain names, those names will become available for registration on a first-come, first-served basis.

Successful applicants will be able to use their new generic domain names after auDA completes the development of its new domain name policy, expected in the first quarter of this year.

Cheng Lim, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Melbourne

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