Why your domain should be top of your watch list

In today’s world, and certainly in the technologically developed world, it would be difficult to meet someone who hasn’t shopped for or researched a brand online. Often the internet is the first port of call for consumers to discover more about, and connect to, a brand or organisation in any market sector.

This is why, as a governance or risk management professional, the protection of your domain name should be at the top of your risk management ‘watch list’, and it is an issue that should continue to be top of that list as our online use only continues to grow significantly every day.

Brands advertise and present themselves online through the registration and use of a domain name, so while the internet remains a highly relevant tool to the consumer, domain name law and protection should be highly relevant to every organisation and those responsible for their risk management and governance.

.com vs .au

The .au domain name is regulated by the .au Domain Administration (auDA) and has its own policy, which mimics the international policy governed by ICANN with certain differences. Both share commonalities such as the concentration of two major dispute resolution providers in their markets but there are some significant differences also — such as the percentage of complainants who win under each policy.

When you have been targeted

If your .au domain name has been copied or targeted, under the Australian domain name policy, you must attempt to resolve the matter first using the auDRP policy. This doesn’t preclude you from going to court, but the dispute resolution process under the auDRP must be invoked. Internal reviews of the auDRP by auDA in 2007 and 2012 found that under the policy Australian domain name dispute resolutions typically take only 45 days to resolve — a highly speedy process when it comes to litigation! 

It is important to note that under the auDRP and UDRP, if your domain name has been stolen, or someone is cybersquatting on it, you can only get it cancelled or transferred, you cannot seek damages.

Advice

Domain protection is not a process that begins and ends with registration. If you have registered a domain name, you should keep the following in mind.

  1. Use it or lose it! If you have registered your domain name but are not using it, you leave yourself open to the risk of a competitor taking it.
  2. Be vigilant. Review your competitors’ websites and ensure they are not copying your style, format or colours in order to confuse online visitors.
  3. Understand it is incredibly important. Think of your website as a vital asset in the product and/or service that you offer. If copied, or taken away from you, it can affect your business and profits significantly so it is a very important asset to be protected, especially in today’s interwoven digital economy. 

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