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Increase in Domain Name Disputes

Monday, 17 June 2013

A record number of domain name disputes were recorded by the World Intellectual Property Office between 2011 and 2012 which is indicative of the increasing competition for domain names.

The figures revealed a year on year increase of 6 per cent to 2,944 cases which shows the growing importance of protecting your online brand.

Protecting Goodwill in Your Brand

The rise in disputes demonstrates the value of domain names to companies and the lengths they are going to in order to protect them. The related rise of “cybersquatting” is a cause for concern and companies should be doing everything they combat this threat and protect their brand on the internet.

By exploiting the goodwill in a brand, cybersquatters can be harmful to business; affecting sales and a company’s reputation.

Tips for Minimising the Risks of Domain Disputes

Due to the importance of online reputation in today’s marketplace, businesses should be mindful of the threats and minimise the risks of domain disputes arising.

Prevention is better than the cure.

Renewals - It is important to remember that registering a domain name merely confers a licence on the owner which must be renewed in order to retain the licence. Failure to do so can have serious consequences allowing an opportunistic third party to take advantage of the goodwill in a company to its detriment.

IP Infringements - A company should avoid registering a domain name that might infringe a competitor’s trading name or trade mark. A thorough check should always be carried out to ensure that IP rights are not infringed. This check will often have a wider effect on a company when creating a new brand or product range as it will want to ensure it can be protected offline as well as online.

Trademarks - A company should also consider registering the domain name as its own trademark as this may enable it to bring a claim for trade mark infringement, strengthening its overall position.

Variations - When registering the domain name it can be a good idea to register various spellings of the trade name or common mis-spellings of the domain name. The domain name should be registered with an array of suffixes, for example, .com, and .org.

Overseas Suffixes - Where the company is operating or intends to operate in another territory, the domain name should be registered in that territory to provide the company with effective protection in foreign jurisdictions.

Vigilance – Companies should remaining vigilant online and form an effective policing method to identify third parties abusing their trading name.

To find out how you can best protect your domain name or other intellectual property rights, please contact James Crichton via e-mail or by telephone on 0207 611 4848.