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Australia's .AU Domain Dispute Resolution Process Explained

The rapid expansion of internet activity in recent years has presented trademark and domain name protection with new and intensified challenges. The surge in online engagements has coincided with a significant escalation in cybercrime incidents, highlighting the crucial need for robust cybersecurity measures to address illicit activities within the digital domain.
Our blog offers a thorough exploration of the domain name conflict resolution process in Australia. We delve into the option of mediation for reaching mutual agreements and provide detailed guidance on initiating a domain name dispute resolution case. This includes identifying key stakeholders, addressing challenges, understanding relevant legal frameworks, and outlining enforcement mechanisms for arbitration decisions. Additionally, we provide you with a step-by-step guide to navigating domain name resolution in Australia.
Our aim is to empower you, as a domain or brand owner, with the knowledge and confidence to navigate and protect your interests amid potential conflicts related to your domain names or brand identities in Australia.

What is Cybersquatting?

Cybersquatting, also known as 'domain squatting', typically involves registering or using a domain name in bad faith, aiming to profit by leasing or selling the domain back to the rightful owner at an inflated price. Cybersquatters often target brands, company names, or notable individuals by registering similar domain names. Similarly, rival businesses might register domains resembling your brand or company name to redirect potential customers away from your site, causing inconvenience and potential revenue loss. Of course, not all domain disputes stem from cybersquatting. Some may arise due to simple oversight, such as forgetting to renew a domain, which can be resolved without resorting to legal action.

It should be noted that, in 2023, WIPO witnessed a historic surge in domain name dispute filings, managing nearly 6,200 complaints—an increase of 7% from the preceding year and a staggering 68% surge since the onset of the COVID pandemic. This surge propelled the total number of cybersquatting cases administered by WIPO to 67,625 since the establishment of the UDRP, depicting a sustained upward trajectory over the past decade.

Australia has played a significant role in this surge, emerging as the fourth-highest filing country for domain name disputes. This underscores the active engagement of Australian trademark owners in safeguarding their intellectual property rights in the online sphere and the importance of collaborative efforts to protect digital assets and maintain trust in the online environment.

Figure 1. Top 10 WIPO ccTLDS in 2023 by case numbers.

How Can I Protect Myself From Cybersquatting?

Many countries have enacted laws to combat cybersquatting and safeguard brands, trademarks, and businesses. In Australia, domain owners can utilize dispute resolution mechanisms such as the .au Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP), which offers a streamlined arbitration process for resolving domain name disputes involving .au domains. Application of the policy is overseen by .au Domain Administration Limited (auDA), a non-profit organization authorized by the Australian government to manage the .au country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD). The aim of the auDRP policy is to serve as a crucial alternative to litigation and operates similarly to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), which sets an international legal standard. However, unlike the UDRP, the auDRP is administered locally by auDA for resolving disputes concerning country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) in Australia.

Mediation vs Arbitration

Mediation involves engaging a neutral third party to assist parties in reaching a mutual agreement. Opting for mediation offers a holistic approach to dispute resolution, empowering participants to address all aspects of the conflict. The mediator's role is to facilitate discussion and exploration of potential solutions collaboratively among the interested parties without imposing decisions. While the mediator evaluates case details, their primary focus is on guiding parties toward understanding each other's perspectives and proposing resolution options.
To find a mediator best suited to your needs, you can utilize the Resolution Institute's nomination service, which considers factors such as expertise, location, and cost-effectiveness. Accessing this service is simple through the Resolution Institute website's online form.
Alternatively, parties may explore arbitration options under the auDRP, providing a structured process for resolving domain name disputes in Australia. We will look in detail at each of the steps involved in arbitration below.

Should I Consider Legal Assistance?

While legal representation is not mandatory, many Complainants choose to seek assistance from lawyers or domain name dispute resolution experts to help prepare and present their case effectively. However, individuals may also choose to handle the process themselves, especially in cases where the dispute is straightforward or the stakes are lower.

If you are still unsure which avenue to choose, you can also consult with us for free at to find the best course of action for your needs.

Arbitration: UDRP vs auDRP: What's the Difference?

The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) and the .au Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP). While both the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) and the .au Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP) aim to resolve conflicts efficiently, they have distinct differences that shape their outcomes.

The UDRP focuses on protecting trademark or service mark rights, while the auDRP extends its scope to include rights in names, offering a broader definition of intellectual property protection. Both policies require complainants to establish a prima facie case, shifting the burden of proof to respondents to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. However, differences in the interpretation of certain defenses can lead to variations in panel decisions.

Another key difference lies in the criteria for bad faith registration or use of the domain name. The UDRP mandates proof of both bad faith registration and use, while the auDRP considers satisfaction of either criterion sufficient. Understanding these nuances is crucial for effectively navigating domain name disputes and protecting interests in the digital realm.

What Kinds of Disputes are Addressed Under the auDRP?

The .au Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP) covers conflicts between the holder of a .au domain name and another party claiming rights to that domain name. You can file a complaint if:

  • The domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark you own.

  • The domain name holder lacks legitimate interests in the domain.

  • The domain name was registered or used in bad faith.

What Are the Benefits of Using the auDRP?

Apart from the favorable success rate associated with this approach, applicants can also reap the several benefits including:

  1. Expedited Resolution: The auDRP offers a streamlined process for resolving disputes, typically delivering outcomes within 20 days.

  2. Comprehensive Review: Parties involved in a dispute have the opportunity for a thorough examination of the case, including presenting evidence and arguments.

  3. Automatic Enforcement: Decisions made under the auDRP are automatically enforced by the arbitration center, providing a straightforward means of implementing resolutions.

  4. Local Expertise: As a policy tailored to Australian domain name disputes, the auDRP offers the advantage of local expertise and understanding of regional laws and practices.

  5. Cost-Effectiveness: Resolving disputes through the auDRP can be more cost-effective than pursuing litigation in traditional courts, making it accessible to a wider range of stakeholders.

How to File a Complaint

Given that auDA itself does not handle auDRP complaints under the auDRP policy they must be lodged with any auDA-approved auDRP Provider. Currently, these include the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and Resolution Institute.

When a dispute arises over a domain name in the .au domain, the process is typically initiated by the Complainant, who submits a formal document known as a 'complaint'. This complaint outlines the details of the dispute, such as how the disputed domain name is being used and why it is believed to violate the rules set forth in the auDRP. This document can vary in formality, but it should clearly articulate the reasons for the complaint and may include references to past cases or legal principles.
Before submitting a complaint, the Complainant should ensure it meets the requirements outlined in the auDRP and any additional rules established by the Provider handling the dispute resolution process. These requirements may include specific formatting guidelines, evidence requirements, and procedural details. The Complainant is also required to pay a fee to the Provider to cover the costs associated with handling the dispute. 

Once filed, the provider will notify the alleged infringer or their domain name registrar, initiating their participation in arbitration proceedings. A panel is subsequently convened to decide whether to cancel or transfer the disputed domain name to the applicant, the rightful owner. The panel consists of either a single member or three members and is appointed by the Provider. Resolution can typically be expected within 20 days.

Enforcement of the Decision

Once the Panel has thoroughly reviewed the case and relevant documents, it will share its written decision with the Provider (currently WIPO or the Resolution Institute) within 14 days of its appointment. Subsequently, within five days of receiving the Panel’s decision, the Provider informs each Party, concerned Registrars, and auDA. The Provider typically publishes the full decision on its website unless otherwise specified.
Once they have been notified of the decision, Registrars promptly inform all parties, the Provider, and auDA about the implementation date as outline in the auDRP. If the ruling Panel decides to transfer or cancel the domain name, Registrars must wait at least 10 business days before taking action. This grace period allows the unsuccessful party to explore legal options, potentially delaying the decision's implementation.


The auDRP complaint submission process serves as a vital mechanism for resolving domain name conflicts within the .au domain space. By providing a structured and transparent framework, it ensures that disputes are handled fairly and efficiently, aligning with established policies and procedures. This process not only facilitates prompt resolution but also upholds the integrity and credibility of the .au domain registry system. Through its adherence to the auDRP Rules and meticulous oversight by appointed Panels, the process instills confidence among stakeholders that their concerns will be addressed with due diligence and impartiality. 

Our Step-by-Step Guide to Filing a .AU Domain Name Complaint.

STEP 1. Complaint Submission:

The complainant lodges a complaint with an auDA accredited body, known as the Provider, initiating the dispute-resolution process under the auDRP.

STEP 2. Compliance Review:

The Provider assesses the complaint to ensure it meets the requirements outlined in the auDRP. 

STEP 3. Commencement of Administrative Proceeding:

Upon verifying the complaint's compliance, the Provider notifies the respondent of the complaint and initiates the administrative proceeding within three days.

STEP 4. Response Submission:

The respondent submits a response to the Provider within 20 days of the administrative proceeding's commencement. Failure to respond results in the respondent being considered in default.

STEP 5. Panel Appointment:

The Provider appoints a panel, consisting of either one or three members, based on the parties' requests.

STEP 6. Panel Decision:

Within 14 days of appointment, the panel deliberates on the case and issues a decision, forwarding it to the Provider.

STEP 7. Notification of Decision:

The Provider notifies the complainant, respondent, registrar(s), and auDA of the panel's decision.

STEP 8. Decision Implementation:

If the complaint is upheld, the domain name is either cancelled or transferred. The registrar must wait 10 business days before implementing the decision to allow for any potential legal proceedings.