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Domain drop catching is where a domain name has been cancelled by the domain registry and is registered immediately after it expires. Domains that are drop-catched are often registered automatically the moment of their deletion. Domain drop-catching services are commonly used to either regain a domain name that was previously lost or registered by someone else, or for the purpose of reselling a high-value domain later on. Domain drop catching is legal in most instances unless it violates intellectual property rights.

Domain Drop Catching

The process of domain drop catching should be distinguished from registering new or expired domains. In drop catching, the domain has not only expired and not been subsequently renewed, but also it has been dropped from the domain registry, allowing anyone in the public to register it. The process is often automated to snatch the domain within seconds of its release. Domains obtained through this process are typically resold again for a premium, parked as a domain, or registered to regain control of the domain.

Legalities of Domain Drop Catching

Registering a dropped or expiring domain name is not illegal. You are registering a domain that nobody has claimed anymore and legitimately registering it through the formal registration channels. However, if your domain name infringes a trade mark or you are using it to imitate a brand or company, this could be considered cybersquatting.

If you have engaged a domain drop catching service, you should ensure that any pre-application for a dropped domain name does not infringe on any registered trade marks. In Australia, check the ATMOSS register to determine any names, logos or brands that may be infringed if you end up registering the domain name.

It is important to note that registering a dropped domain name does not grant proprietary rights to the name. Rather, the domain holder has a licence to use it for a specified period. If you wish to claim ownership of a domain name, you should request for it to be trademarked.

If someone else has registered a domain through a drop catching service that infringes your trade mark, you have options available to you to resolve the dispute. The auDA, being the .au Domain Administration, is the industry body for the .au domain space. You can request that auDA investigate through their Dispute Resolution Procedure on an infringing domain name. This process involves filing a complaint and an auDA panel resolving the dispute. The cost for this resolution process varies from $2,000 to $4,500 depending on the number of members on the panel.

Key Takeaways

While domain drop catching is legal, you must also hold the registered business name and trade mark to claim rights over the name if a legal dispute arises. As domain registration is based on a first come, first served basis, it is best to register a trade mark for any domain you register if you want to hold rights to it. If someone is infringing on your trade mark, get in touch with our IP lawyers on 1300 544 755.


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