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Buying Businesses - Domain Name Issues

When purchasing a business in Australia; assuming the rights to use any .au domain names used in connection with the business are also included in the sale can result in a nasty shock - and perhaps major legal headaches later on.

Quite often people may buy a business and use the domain for an extended period before realising that legally, the licence for the name still belongs to the previous business owner.

The transfer of ownership, or more accurately, licensing of a domain is not implicit in the sale of a business. A deed of sale that explicitly mentions the domain name and that the registration is to be transferred to the new business owner is absolutely crucial to avoiding many complications.

Even in that scenario, things may not go smoothly, so contract wording needs to be even more definitive.

Prior to a transfer of registrant taking place, a transfer procedure must be followed via the domain registrar that manages the name - and that process also requires the involvement of the current registrant. 

Regardless of whatever a deed of sale may state indicating otherwise, a registrar won't be able to transfer a domain name to the new business owner without the correct transfer documentation being signed by the person it is being transferred from.

In a case where the seller doesn't want to sign the transfer paperwork or cannot be located; but the deed of sale mentions the Australian domain and transfer to the new owner is part of the contract, the only options are to file a complaint with the auDA (the overseeing body of .au domains) or via the courts. Both can be stressful, lengthy and rather expensive processes; without any guarantee of a positive outcome.

With an ounce of prevention being far better than a pound of cure; it's very important to ensure a business deed of sale is very specific regarding not only what happens concerning an associated Australian domain name but who will be doing what and when - and that a solicitor examining the contract also has a good understanding of the issue. The future of the newly acquired business and the livelihood of the new owner may depend on it.

Available Domain Name Search & Register


How to register a name: Enter your choice in the search tool and click 'GO'. If after the check the domain names search results show your choice is available, you will then have the option to proceed to purchase registration; which is a very quick and easy process - start a search and find your ideal website address now.