Thursday, November 26, 2009

Is Your Intellectual Property Insured Against Brandjackers & Cybersquatters?

Take a few moments to INSURE that you are on the right path to protecting valuable intellectual property from Intellectual Property thieves which, if left unchecked, can cause loss of rights in your trademarks, copyrights and confidential information.


What exactly is cyber squatting or brandjacking? When dealing with trademark issues, we have dubbed them "Branditos." Branditos are "cyber bandits who steal from those who brand it."

Do you know what the greatest threat to brand equity is today?

Cyber squatting, sometimes called brandjacking, increased by 33% in 2007. Why the increase? First, since most generic dictionary words and terms have been registered as domains, brandjackers now turn their attention to trademarks. Secondly, brand names in domains help brandjackers drive traffic through search engines. If you have a website selling goods or services, or simply market through the Internet, you should become familiar with the most common types of cyber squatting.

Why should you care?

Trademark owners must "police" their marks against unauthorized usages, or lose rights completely. Registration is only the beginning of protection for trademarks and valuable business good will. Many trademarks have been lost through benign neglect of their owners who failed to take simple steps along the way to eliminate infringers. Most often, this was simply because the owners did not understand the basic legal principles necessary to protect valuable brands.

For example, allowing new entrants into the market who are using an identical or potentially confusingly similar term for the same or related goods and services causes your mark to lose distinctiveness and weak. Marks can be legally challenged as "descriptive" or "generic," meaning you will be unable to enforce rights against third parties. Once it has happened, it is too late to regain rights.

In the Internet age, "dilution" of your brand can happen quickly where brandjackers deliberately register misspellings of trademarks to divert customers, place them in Meta data, and buy them from search engines to place competitive ads.

Cost should not be the deciding factor. A risk management program and enforcement plan can be implemented on a cost effective basis without the need to file expensive litigation.

Clients most often confuse their own registration of a domain as protection against others. This is simply not the case. The same or similar domains with varying words and spellings from yours are illegal if they are used to offer competitive goods and services.

Copyright 2008 Hodgson Law Group
Cheryl L. Hodgson, J.D.
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