I hate my morning commute...

The X Factor ensurs they are one step ahead of cybersquatters


I hate my morning commute.  Not only do I have to sample the underarm aroma from various fellow commuters pressed far too close for comfort, as well as listen to inane conversations about characters from TV soap operas, but I now also have to hear discussion after discussion about The X Factor.

Yes, The X Factor season is upon us yet again and according to my offspring, we recently found out who the finalists of the competition are who will do battle every weekend from now until Christmas.  (And with that statement I know I have lost all powers over the remote control on a Saturday night until the winner has been announced in December.)

Some of the previous artists have become global superstars.  Leona Lewis won the competition back in 2006 and can now be seen in USA celebrity magazines hobnobbing with all the A-listers, B-listers and Russell Brand.  JLS were actually runners up in 2008 but appear to have hit the big time by almost selling out a concert at a UK cricket ground back in August. Finally, I happened to notice that Same Difference, the brother and sister act that came third in 2007, are due to appear in Pantomime in Broxbourne’s production of Sleeping Beauty.

The problem is that this is not really a “talent show”, it is a popularity contest.  The winners (and losers) are decided by the votes of the general public because they are more likeable rather than more talented.  It is all about the brand.  And in branding terms, there can be no bigger market than the Internet.

The team behind The X Factor are one step ahead in terms of intellectual property.  By the time the judges decided the fate of the artists careers on Sunday night, those lucky few who will appear on our TV screens in the weeks to come already have their domain name intellectual property registered.  In fact those domain names were safely registered as far back as July.  The TV production company left nothing to chance, ensuring they are one step ahead of the cybersquatters.

Unfortunately, domain law today is, to coin a phrase from our USA cousins, an ass.  It does little to protect the real IP rights holders, yet creates an environment where someone acting in bad faith can profit.  Let’s say that someone at The X Factor had forgotten to register one of the finalist’s domain names.  The moment his/her name was tearfully read out by one of the judges on Sunday night someone would’ve pressed “buy” on that domain name.  Their strategy is simple – profit.  If The X Factor wanted to get that name back (and assuming the registrant has not used the name in bad faith) they would have two options.  The first is to take the legal route, issuing a Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) case which they will ultimately win unless the domain name owner can prove he has a legal right to the domain name.  Unfortunately, this process can cost a fair amount of money and can take a couple of months (by which time the artist may have been voted off the show anyway).  The second is to simply offer the domain name holder a fee to give the name back immediately.  Either way, the artist and The X Factor production company loses.

Keeping one step ahead in protecting your future assets means forward thinking now.  What will your brands be in the future? Which markets will you be present in? Who will your new customers be?  Thinking about the domain names that you need in the future and registering them now, means you are protecting your critical online assets and stopping the big bad cybersquatter from flourishing.

Right, back to those discussions about The X Factor...


Written by Stuart Fuller, Director of Communications, NetNames

3 October 2012

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