And before you start, I know what you’re thinking! Yes, auDA does have a prohibition on lots of things. 😀
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me show you why I think this particular policy has lots of flaws.
- If you’re of a mind to do so (and I am not), you can “cybersquat” the proper spelling of a brand name and take your chances that you won’t get “pinged” by the legitimate brand holder. Some people continue to get away with this for ages.
- But if you register a domain that is an obvious misspelling of a “branded” domain name, then you are guaranteed to get whacked by auDA. Why? Because it’s on the “misspelling list” – and they audit these names on a regular basis.
Does that sound ridiculous to you? It does to me – and on last year’s Names Panel, I gave examples of how ludicrous this situation is. I also raised it at the 2014 auDA AGM.
The Actual Policy
You can read that here – it’s not very long. To illustrate the points that I raised above, there are two excerpts that I would like to quote from Section 3:
3.1 auDA’s objective in enforcing a prohibition on misspellings is to preserve the integrity of the .au domain space by discouraging “typosquatting”, whereby a person deliberately registers a misspelling of a popular domain name in order to divert trade or traffic.
3.3 auDA is also aware that some prohibited misspellings are repeatedly re-registered for the purpose of domain monetisation. In order to deal effectively with this category of prohibited misspellings, auDA will use the audit process set out in section 6 of this policy.
First up, here is a link to the actual auDA Misspellings List (it’s in Excel format). I’m going to reference certain domain names from it.
Wikipedia.com.au – proper spelling. Purchased on the drop auctions back in September 2014, and still registered to someone with no apparent connection to the brand. Does not currently resolve.
Wikkipedia – this is at line 2374 on the misspellings list. Register this word as a domain to get some typo traffic, and it will be automatically taken away from you.
Toyota.net.au – proper spelling. Purchased on the drop auctions, and still registered to someone with no apparent connection to the brand. Resolves to a SEDO parking page with a “for sale” banner.
Misspellings of “Toyota” – look at how many entries they have on the list! Register any of these words as a domain to get some typo traffic, and it / they will be automatically taken away from you. Yet the proper spelling in a net.au doesn’t get touched.
How do some brand names end up with spelling permutations of their names on this official misspelling list – and yet, others do not? Take these as examples not currently on the list:
Adidas.net.au – purchased on the drops a couple of times over past few years. Registered to someone with no apparent connection to the brand. Does not currently resolve.
Benetton.com.au – purchased on the expired auctions a couple of years ago, and currently parked with Netfleet.
Blatant cybersquatting in my opinion, yet they get away with it. There are many similar examples.
This Is Ridiculous
Here’s an interesting example for you. The domain Emirates.com.au was purchased some time ago by someone who put up a basic info page about the Emirates as a geographic location. Under policy, this (on the face of it) is permitted.
However, if you have a look at the misspellings list from lines 793 to 798, the well-known airline has managed to get some misspellings on there.
In My Opinion
auDA does not need a misspellings list – and certainly not one that contains some brands and not others. There is just no consistency in this approach.
Brands and businesses are already protected under auDA policy – see Schedule C – Clause (3b).
b) the domain name must not be, or incorporate, an entity name, personal name or brand name in existence at the time the domain name was registered*.
“entity name” means the name of an Australian registered company or incorporated association as listed with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), or the name of an Australian government body. It does not include a registered business name;
“personal name” means the given name(s) and/or last name of a person; and
“brand name” means the name of an identifiable and distinctive product or service, whether commercial or non-commercial.
What do you think?
Ned O’Meara – 13 September 2016