Domain names and the Olympics

The recent announcement that Brisbane will host the 2032 Olympics is an exciting opportunity not just for Queensland but for the whole of Australia. Perhaps unsurprisingly, ‘Brisbane’ was one of the top five trending Google searches on the day of the announcement. However, this spike in interest immediately presented an issue regarding the registration of Olympics-related domain names.

Reserved names

auDA, the administrator of Australia’s national .au top-level domain, has reported an increase in attempts to register domain names which include the word ‘Olympics’ (or variations on that theme) together with terms such as ‘Brisbane’ and ‘Australia.’ auDA has made it clear that none of these applications will be granted as these terms are ‘reserved names’.

‘Reserved names’ are words, acronyms or abbreviations which are:

  • restricted or prohibited by Australian law;
  • the names or abbreviations of Australia or Australian states or territories;
  • a risk to the security, stability and integrity of the .au and global Domain Name System;
  • necessary for the proper administration of government; or
  • reserved for future use by auDA.

A domain name can only include a reserved name with official permission.

Olympic protection

Since the Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987 (Cth) prohibits the unauthorised use or registration of ‘Olympics’, ‘Olympic Games’, ‘Olympiad’ etc, these words are treated as reserved names and this restriction also extends to close alternatives such as ‘Brissieolympicz’.

When the public is seeking access to information about the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games, auDA's aim will be to ensure that information is of the highest quality and derived from legitimate sources rather than unofficial websites.

auDA will reject applications for domain names which include reserved names but will not discuss in advance whether a certain term will be acceptable. As 2032 approaches, the Olympics will be increasingly prominent in the Queensland economy and further local and national regulations will make the legal landscape even more complex. For advice on how these regulations may impact your business, or how to register and defend .au domain names, please contact our experts Shaun Creighton or Graeme Fearon.

This memo presents an overview and commentary of the subject matter. It is not provided in the context of a solicitor-client relationship and no duty of care is assumed or accepted. It does not constitute legal advice.

© Moulis Legal 2021

Key contacts
Graeme Fearon
Special Counsel