While there is a commonly accepted list of domain names that users are prevented from registering, there is also another list to pay attention to. You see, the au Domain Administration published the Prohibition on Misspellings Policy back in 2008. This policy seeks to “preserve the integrity of the .au domain space by discouraging ‘’typosquatting’’, where a person deliberately registers a misspelling of a popular name in order to divert trade or traffic”.
While the policy’s intent has been met with favour from large businesses who already own their primary domain name, many smaller businesses and individuals are often left surprised when the auDA questions their entitlement to the misspelt name. In most cases, said domains are revoked on the basis that a party has no ‘legitimate’ right(s) to use the name.
However, as a registrant, it’s important one familiarises themselves with the respective proceedings surrounding a prohibited misspelling. First and foremost, always check the most recent list of prohibited misspellings published on the auDA’s policy page (link above). The list is populated by domains which are spelled incorrectly, including:
a) the singular version of a plural name, or the plural version of a singular name (eg. woolworth.com.au, safeways.com.au);
b) a name with missing letters (eg. yhoo.com.au);
c) a name with additional letters (eg. quantas.com.au);
d) a name with transposed letters (eg. goolge.com.au, wetspac.com.au);
e) a name with letters replaced by numbers, or numbers replaced by letters (eg. 9msn.com.au);
f) a hyphenated version of a name (eg. e-bay.com.au, micro-soft.com.au);
g) a name prefixed by “www” (eg. wwwseek.com.au); or
h) any other name that auDA determines is a deliberate misspelling, having regard to the surrounding circumstances.
However, said prohibitions are applicable where the domain misspells an entity, brand or personal name, and the registrant has done so to trade upon the reputation of the other party. Therefore, the auDA make provision for the specific context of the domain name, including similarly named parties.
Following routine audits by the auDA, the governing body may ask the relevant registrar to delete the domain name after 14 days of being held in suspense. During said time, the onus will be placed on the registrant to prove their right(s) to maintain the misspelled domain name, which if successful, will result in the name being reinstated and removed from the misspelling list. However, it should be made clear that this does not absolve DRP or trade mark rights.
Similarly, if another party believes a name should be deemed a prohibited misspelling, or the registrant believes the name should not be on the misspelling list to begin with, they may make a complaint to the auDA. In both cases, again, the onus will be on the registrant to prove their cause within the specific timelines as requested by the auDA.
That’s it for this occasion, stay tuned for our next educational article. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.
The Netfleet Team