The increasing penetration of internet in India, accompanied by the rapid growth of the internet space in the last few years has created new opportunities and challenges for businesses and brand owners. On one hand it has made it easier for brands to reach the right customer via digital platforms, on the other hand, it has brought in a new wave of cybersecurity issues specially related to brand infringement across multiple digital platforms – domains, social media, online marketplaces, and app stores.

Infringements come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common ones attempt to pass-off as the real brand by creating fake website on similar looking domains, acquiring social media handles similar to real brand names and using the brand identity to sell fake products and apps.

In order for businesses to protect their brand equity and safeguard their employees and customers from fraud, they have follow a three pronged strategy; (i) Prevent Infringements, (ii) Monitor Infringements and (iii) Nullify infringements.

Prevent Infringements

A strong and comprehensive digital assets portfolio is a first step to preventing infringement and cybersquatting. Create a detailed asset acquisition and management plan that evaluates the availability of brand and trademarks across all domain extensions, and targeted social media handles for brand, sub-brands and trademarks. Post evaluation these assets should be acquired posthaste and the plan be regularly updated and evaluated to ensure that new domains extensions and platforms are covered.

An entry into the global TM database for domains is another preventive measure that can help brands assert their authority beyond the territorial restrictions of a trademark. The entry will allow them a) First right of refusal for acquiring a domain in new gTLDs sunrise period b) send a warning to cyber squatters before they infringe on domains and c) receive notifications when a matching domain is registered in the new gTLDs.

Monitor Infringements

A brand monitoring service is a great tool to identify and quantify the level of infringement and cybersquatting on a brand across multiple digital platforms. The monitoring service will continuously scan the entire domain space across 1500+ extensions, popular social media platforms, online marketplaces, app stores and other platforms. The service will identify infringements on the brand and quantify the threat that each of the infringements pose for the brand. The quantification assist in prioritizing the enforcement action and helps with deciding on the best course of action against the infringement.

Nullify infringements

The biggest challenge with online brand infringement is that they are not restricted to a geographical location or territory thus reducing the effectiveness of trademarks, local law enforcement and judiciary systems. There are defined processes, procedure and policies that have been put in place by ICANN and various other governing bodies to allow brand and business owners to enforce their rights on their trademark, globally. Mechanism such as UDRP, URS, INDRP, DMCA are few examples of processes that can be used by brand owners to take control of their digital asset and fight the onslaught of cybersquatting.

An experienced partner can help determine the best way to fight these infringements and utilize other less expensive and more efficient methods to neutralize infringements and cybersquatting.

As internet becomes more and more pervasive in our personal and professional lives, the threat from its abuse will increase exponentially. If businesses wish to protect their brand from online infringement and abuse they will have to setup dedicated monitoring and enforcement programs to stay one step ahead of cyber squatters and cybercriminals.

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