Developing an effective online strategy to protect your intellectual property

By Stuart Fuller, Director of Commercial Operations and Communications at NetNames



 “Today, it is imperative for businesses to develop an effective online strategy that protects their intellectual property whilst keeping an eye on the opportunities that will arise in the digital world.
“The internet can be a dangerous place, with serious threats including counterfeits, piracy, reputational damage caused by social media and brand infringement threatening to de-value a firm’s IP assets.  With its estimated 4.63 billion pages, the internet is a vast and relatively unregulated space and last year there was a 15% increase in the sale of counterfeit goods online. 
“Therefore, before the internet evolves further, brands must develop an effective online strategy that protects both their intellectual property and their customers so that they can take advantage of the opportunities that the Internet offers.

“Here are some tips on how firms can protect their IP:

• Companies should make sure that their Intellectual Property is registered in the correct classifications for their intended use. In particular, in countries and jurisdictions where brands will want to defend their trademarks, thereby enabling effective enforcement should any infringements occur.
• The variety of digital platforms available, such as social media and mobile apps, make it difficult for those monitoring their intellectual property. In terms of digital marketing for instance, choosing a legitimate advertising supplier and making sure that a degree of control is retained over any content placed by an affiliate network, will help organisations monitor the online footprint more effectively.
• Write prescription clauses into any advertising contract stipulating liability if something does go wrong.
• Take centralised control over your domain names to rapidly respond to cyber-squatters, typo-squatters and rogue online retailers;
• Actively monitor online reseller prices. If prices are significantly lower than the RRP, it is a strong indicator of counterfeit activity;
• Businesses must remain proactive when managing their online assets. One option is to engage with a brand protection company that has the software to monitor how businesses’ trademarks are used online to catch infringement early. The best software must focus on the areas of the internet in which the businesses operates most and be complemented by an infringement removal or takedown service – to deal with problems swiftly and effectively.

“Ultimately, it is only those that adopt a proactive, precautionary attitude with their online assets that will successfully protect their brands online identity and continue to see the benefits of pursuing a multi-channel presence.”

(First published in Business Sense)