The growth of internet and internet related facilities have made brands shift a major part of their business online, some generating the entirety of their income through online sales. With the rise in such services, these companies have also become susceptible to different forms of online infringement. These include spam emails, phishing, cybersquatting, brandjacking, etc. Online advertisers bid to use keywords from search engines that feature famous brand names to divert customers to their website which damages the brand’s reputation. Thus, it becomes important to safeguard your business.
In this blog, we will see brands and trademarks on the internet and how to protect them from infringement.
Domain names and trademarks
A registered domain name can not only drive traffic to your website but can also become the very name by which your business is known. A domain name can be registered as a trademark if it is distinct and is capable of differentiating your website from others. While finding out the right domain name that can be registered as a trademark, you must conduct a thorough trademark search to check if there are any names similar to your website. We recommend hiring the services of an IP attorney who will help find the right name and guide you throughout the trademark registration process.
A registered trademark as a domain name gives you an extra layer of protection and gives infringement claims to the trademark owner.
- The trademark or the domain name owner must monitor the use of their website and save screenshots of possible infringements. However, not all infringements lead to loss of brand, for instance, when Coca-Cola discovered that two users had started a facebook page in their name that had millions of followers, instead of suing them they decided to partner with them in managing their facebook page.
- You may also provide the service providers with infringement details, such as the exact URL so that it helps with identification of the infringer. Further, using legal assistance and adopting traditional enforcement strategies like a cease and desist notice may also help enforce trademark rights.
- It is also recommended to build a strategy for potential infringement. This involves identifying where infringement may occur and what are the threats to the brand.
- On social media, companies should take time to get to know these sites in order to understand how to improve their brand protection. The infringers can obtain vanity URLs through social media sites (for example: www.instagram.com/teacups) . Thus, companies must identify the account names they want to obtain before they are obtained.
- If a company is launching a new product, then it may consider creating two accounts on social media, one for the brand and another for the new product. Registering these accounts on social media helps keep them out of reach of third parties, saving protection and enforcement costs.
- Social media companies often have intellectual property protection policies in place to protect their users from trademark infringement. Twitter has policies in place which address trademark infringement, impersonation and name squatting(when a third party creates an account using the name of the original owner). Their policies clearly read that accounts that have an intent to mislead people will be banned from the platform. In another instance, Facebook has an “IP infringement form” which allows aggrieved trademark owners to complain about trademark infringement. According to facebook such content shall be removed promptly while also notifying the infringer. Repeated offenders will be banned from the platform. Further, facebook allows users to DM the third party directly in case of trademark infringement through direct message and if that fails they may raise the claim to facebook.