Squatters, trolls and other unwelcome threats hiding under the bridge

By Peter Shackleton and Alex Tame (Founder, Tame IP)

 

The subject for the next couple of blog posts came from a recent conversation with Alex Tame, the founder of Tame IP. We were discussing the multitudes of challenges faced when launching a new brand: how to secure the right domain names or social media handles; how to ensure that the new brand wasn’t going to create conflict with an existing brand or trademarked terms; that the concept or technology wasn’t going to fall foul of patent trolls and other entities wanting a slice of your success. I could carry on with the list, but I think you get my general drift that by the time you’re finished considering all of the potential pitfalls, you wonder why anyone would want to launch something new in the first place.

So, instead of a blog talking about the woes of launching a new brand, Alex suggested a post or two outlining some of the positive steps that can be taken – and where focus should be placed.

In the beginning…

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The first step in this process is to understand the landscape and understand what a new brand needs.

Domain names and social media handles are key elements of a brand’s digital customer journey. An understanding of how you expect users to arrive at a ‘digital destination’ and who you expect to arrive there are key factors in determining what digital assets a brand requires and where threats may exist from not having certain assets.

Some of that insight is determined by a brand’s existing or expected customer segmentation (the graphics represent some of the ways in which social media users can be profiled and matched to those customer segments). Similar questions also need to be asked in relation to domain names relating to geography, SEO and context. Do you use ccTLDs or sub-domains for regional/country content? What is the impact on SEO? How will customers/users find your website: direct navigation, search, etc? Will context-related TLDs assist your brand profile and SEO efficiency? And what would be the brand impact in not having control of any of these assets?

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This cumulative knowledge enables a brand to determine which digital assets it requires and why.

Then we add in the issue of trademarks and patents, and this is where the costs can certainly start to take off as you consider what marks to register and which specific features of your technology to protect. Not only are there plenty of costs to consider as you embark on this journey, but unless careful searching is carried out from the start you could also end up with nothing to show for your efforts as patent offices throw up prior art in an attempt to demonstrate that you weren’t the first to protect your invention.

It may sound complex, but the answer to all of these questions will already exist within your business… somewhere. Typically, the legal team will be on hand to assist with these and many other questions, but a new breed of companies and departments is emerging that are looking at this from a business strategy angle – aligning the IP to the business strategy – recognizing that these intangible assets have value, and using this value to further enhance the business.

Now that the research is done and you’ve made the decisions regarding what assets are required, those requirements need to be budgeted for and decisions taken around the value of the assets to the business because, living in such a fast-moving digital world, it’s extremely unlikely that what you require is freely available.

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