Why .com is not enough
The other day I was listening to a quite interesting podcast, with an entrepreneur who had started a business which today is on the international market and has a turnover of closer to 10 million USD. The entrepreneur talked about their roughly 100 intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks), whereupon I out of curiosity decided to have a look at where this business actually was standing with regards to “digital rights”, a.k.a. the domain names. Sadly, and not very surprisingly, they were mildly put neglected. While the company did own the .com and a handful of other domain names for their main brand, the remaining domains were registered by others. Out of the top ten largest economies in the world, the company in question owns only one of the regional domains, despite local sales.
This is unfortunately not an uncommon scenario. Throughout my ten-ish years in the domain business, I have seen this too many times: A company being good at legal protection for their brands, while the digital protection is lacking.
Why is that? As a company you can spend hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, on a website, marketing, and IT infrastructure, but the domain names, that are the hub of the digital presence, all too often slip through the cracks. It is a bad equation when combined with the fact that domain names often are simple and cheap to register, and by that “easy prey” if they are available when the company is expanding.
For example, did you know that trademark registers are under surveillance by less benevolent people who have put into system to register domain names based on the trademark applications?
Contrary to this, I have seen several good examples of how you, as an entrepreneur or marketing manager, can save yourself both headache and money by instead having a proactive approach to your domain names.
“We have the trademark rights, so we’re protected”, can be a common logical fallacy. It’s great to have the help by legal protection of your brand, but sadly it’s not that simple. You are not guaranteed a domain name only because you have the right to the trademark.
Domains are registered on a first come, first serve basis, and in the wrong hands the damage could be done quickly. Domain names are therefore an important part of protecting your business against various types of brand infringement or fraud. Owning the regional domain names for the current and coming markets are thus today more or less a question of hygiene. Partly because it creates a positive user experience, but also because it helps ensure that our clients safely can interact with us and that we’re doing everything we can to avoid, for example, pirate copies, email fraud, or phishing.
If there is anything that is becoming more and more important in our digital and global world, it is the relationship we have to our clients. Keeping a good digital (and legal, of course) brand hygiene helps protect this relationship.
A take away from this text is to include the domain names in the same discussions and forums as where you discuss marketing strategies, patents, and trademarks, so that you’re well prepared to avoid any potential pitfalls.
Want to read more on this topic? Read, Which domain names should i consider registering?
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