Domain name lock-out for Australian business

Australian small and medium businesses can completely forget about being able to buy a domain name next year.

Australian small and medium businesses can completely forget about being able to buy a domain name next year. More details have emerged from the conference held in Paris last week where the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers announced it would allow individuals and companies to apply for rights to generic top-level domains, (gTLDs).

And it looks like the costs will be prohibitive to register include company names or brand names such as .Telstra, brand names such as .vegemite or place names such as .Melbourne.

Last Friday ICANN said it would begin taking applications for new domains next April, and the first names are expected to be in operation by the end of 2009.

It will also make non-Roman-character domain names available for the first time.

Already it appears the winners will be registry operators.

Paul Twomey, the Australian president and chief executive of ICANN, says today in The Australian it would be beyond the reach of individuals and businesses at the small end of town.

“It’s not going to be cheap. People will have to pay low six-digit US dollars and ongoing costs,” Twomey says.

Meanwhile Chris Disspain, head of Australia’s peak domain authority auDA, says those who own domain names will have to build their own registry, which costs about $3 million or $4 million, or go to one of the existing registries such as AusRegistry or Verisign and pay them to run it. He points out it is not like running a website, and it will need huge amount of computing power to ensure the domain name is always running.

Yesterday Paul Wallbank, founder of national IT company PC Rescue and SmartCompany blogger, warned that companies are being advised to make sure their trademarks are current and defendable.

He says the announcement flips the usual rules about trademarks and protection. “It has always been cheap to get a trademark and then costs a lot to defend it. But with this it will be expensive to get the domain name. So you might be better making sure you have protection for your trademark in place, and then just send out nasty legal letters,” he says.


Read more on domain names, trademarks and IP protection


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