Australian brands can (and should) stake a claim for their domain.

Avoid being scammed by a URL squatter.


If you are trying to register a domain name, particularly through overseas registrars such as GoDaddy, it pays to understand the differences in Australia, before you complete any transactions. We recently talked to a business who spent $3,000 to purchase a domain name that they might have been able to acquire for under $200.

The world of domain URLs can be daunting, frustrating and disillusioning when trying to secure a domain for your business or brand.

We understand domain pain very well at Untold, when we first started the company was not available, we secured but, honestly, it was our second choice. But more on that later.

Things are particularly tough if you are hoping to get a .com. The Wild West nature of the Top Level Domain (TLD) landscape created a virtual gold rush of squatters buying out every domain name that they thought they might be able to sell to an existing or emerging brand. This started in .coms but spilled over to Second Level Domains (2LDs) such as the domains in Australia.

There is a very large ‘BUT’ here though. While many .au domain name registrations have been purchased by squatters, both here and abroad (directly and through intermediaries), their registrations are all potentially invalid.

If they are invalid, the registration can be revoked… opening the domain for re-registration.

To understand this, there are a couple of fundamental concepts in the administration of .au URLs that need to be understood.

When you register a .au domain, you are not ‘buying’ it. You are purchasing a license to utilise it for a period of time between 1 and 5 years in duration. That license can be revoked.

There is an eligibility criterion for purchasing the registration license (2012-04 - Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules for the Open 2LDs). Within this are some very important rules for all 2LDs within the registration policy including:

Rule 2: Registrants must be Australian - Domain name licences may only be allocated to a registrant who is Australian, as defined under the eligibility and allocation rules for each 2LD.

Hey overseas squatters… revoked

Rule 8:  “A registrant may not register a domain name for the sole purpose of resale or transfer to another entity.“

Hey Aussie squatters… revoked

There are also specific eligibility criterion and allocation rules for domains which further disallow squatting:

Rule 1: Registrants must be an Australian registered company; or other trading entity or association (as laid out in the policy), and/or own a registered Australian trade mark.

But wait, there’s more…

Rule 2: Domain names in the 2LD must be… (and here I will summarise please see policy for complete and accurate detail) exact match, abbreviation or acronym of the registrant’s name or trademark; or otherwise closely and substantially connected to the registrant... or the subject matter it refers to.

So if it isn’t their business name, brand, trade mark, or descriptive of their offerings… revoked

In our experience, there is a subtext to this last one. The entity/brand/TM/service it refers to must be active (or at least close to being so).

So what does this mean to you as a person on a quest to secure for your business?

  • If someone offers to sell you a they are probably squatting and you can challenge their registration, freeing the domain up for you to register.
  • If the you want is not available but is not in use it is time to do some research, because if they are not trading you can challenge the registration.

So what about our Untold story of domain woe? When we found it was unavailable we did some research and found that it wasn’t in use. Our trusty genius coder and mechanic for all things domain related put in a challenge and… revoked. Or more accurately in this case surrendered. We were then able to register it for a standard 2-year registration fee.

Don’t let slip through your fingers if you don’t have to, and more importantly, don’t let a squatter extort your hard-earned out of you for something they don’t actually own.