Insights 18.05.2021

Time for a digital refresh?

Responsibility for domain name portfolios, cybersecurity and online brand protection tends to fall across a wide range of business functions or different providers with no one department in complete control. Taking the time now to centralise your assets and strategic approach could make all the difference to protection, enforcement and budgets.

One of the biggest risks for trademark owners today is IP infringement on the internet. However, many companies are not aware that infringement by third parties has a direct or indirect impact on their sales, reputation or security. Detecting the abuse directly is essential to countering this threat. One of the most important strategies for achieving this is to migrate the portfolio into one central system to have a complete overview of the digital assets quickly at hand.

The importance of oversight

A company’s digital assets provide the foundation for its presence and protection online, and yet the registrations and infrastructure needed to support and secure online content often fall across a range of functions, from marketing to IT and legal. A wide variety of vendors are also often used, further complicating management and oversight. Centralising those assets and clarifying responsibilities will help to achieve the oversight needed to proactively protect brands online, and also provide opportunities to rationalise and secure a company's digital assets.

Step 1: Centralise

As IP professionals know all too well, careful planning is crucial when it comes to the registration and ongoing protection of a company’s intangible assets. However, many businesses have yet to establish a clear and consistent strategy for registering and renewing domain names, with decisions often left to marketing teams alone to decide.

In this sense, the first step for any business should be to capture and centralise what has already been registered in light of the company’s brand portfolio and geographical presence. Understanding existing registrations, and how they are being used and protected, will provide the overview that a business needs to assess whether:

  • the domain names accurately reflect the brand names and associated trademark registrations;
  • there are any gaps in coverage (e.g. core brands, product lines or trademarks that do not have equivalent domain name registrations);
  • domain name registrations are being maintained for products or trademarks that are no longer in use (bearing in mind there may be good reasons for doing so); and
  • there is consistency in the registries/registrars used to register the company’s domain names.

TIP: Migration of existing domain name assets is simple and easy to achieve with the right partner in place. For specific guidance here, contact our team

Step 2: Rationalise 

Domain name registrations may not be a major expense when assessed individually, but add them together and that picture will look very different. Even in the unlikely event that budgets aren’t tight, it’s nonetheless good business sense to rationalise a domain name portfolio to decrease costs and maximise protection. The exercise also facilitates future budgeting efforts, whether for new registrations or portfolio renewals.

Consider, for example:

  • Defensive registrations, such as common misspellings of your company or brand names, or terms/brands/slogans with which you are commonly associated;
  • One-off registrations (e.g. associated with a new product launch or marketing campaign);
  • Secondary TLDs and new gTLDs (for example, sector-focused extensions, such as .shop, or geographical extensions, such as .London) which deliver greater choice, but can leave you open to infringement activity;
  • Obtaining a professional assessment and recommendation from domain professionals!

TIP: Domain name management doesn’t have to be so manual or time-consuming. With the right system in place, you can automate and customise common tasks from renewals to bulk registration.

Step 3: Step up security

Depending on how active your business needs to be in terms of identifying and acting against infringement activity online (including counterfeiting activity, cybersquatting and look-alike sites), this step is also likely to raise the need to implement (or update) your online brand protection strategy to effectively monitor and defend your valuable rights online.

This can be a tricky balance for brand owners to strike, as the time and cost of pursuing third parties for infringement action can quickly add up, but so too can the loss in revenue and reputation from allowing such sites to continue trading unchallenged. 

Of course, online brand protection is just the tip of the security iceberg for IT teams, which is why effective domain name management also needs to include secure DNS solutions, SSL certificates, domain name registration blocking services (DPML) and domain locking (including Registry Locks).

TIP: Each business’s online needs and risks are different, which requires access to a whole range of different services, from anonymised registrations or domain name purchases to dispute resolution services (UDRP or URS) and WHOIS data checks. Consolidating these into a single system or provider will help you to design and implement a more consistent, streamlined and cost-effective solution to the evolving digital threat.

NovumIP’s Domain Name Management service and interface are fully customisable, enabling you to benefit from complete oversight and full control. To find out more or to request a demo, contact us today

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