Intellectual property, trademarks and copyrights–if you are in business, you probably know what these are and how important they are. However, an online business has additional factors that must be considered to protect its brand within the Web’s wide exposure.
What follows is an excerpt from a Brandsplat Video Report in which Brandsplat CCO Enzo F. Cesario interviews Daniel Greenberg, director of domain name management and online brand protection for Lexsynergy. Greenberg is also a practicing attorney who specializes in Internet Law and Trademark Law. (Watch the complete Video Report )
CESARIO: Can you tell us a little bit about brand protection? Can you define it for us?
GREENBERG: Brand protection involves various methods that allow a brand owner to prevent third parties from infringing upon their particular mark. So, for instance, it includes buying a trademark, registering a domain name, registering copyrights, patents and designs where applicable. In essence, it prevents third parties from using the particular mark unlawfully. For instance, the word Brandsplat would be a trademark, the domain name is Brandsplat dot com and the layout and content of the site would be copyright. So, all these put together is intellectual property, which amounts to brand protection.
CESARIO: So is your domain name an online trademark? Can you expound on that?
GREENBERG: Yes, it has become a species of online trademark. For instance, most people do their business online, they shop online, they bank online; and if you don’t have control of your brand over the Internet, it will be very difficult for customers to locate you. So, if you had to compare it to the bricks-and-mortar world, it’s almost the signage that is outside your business. For instance, in the online world, if you don’t control your particular mark or your brand, it’s as if your competitor has taken your particular mark and put it outside his store. So it has become a brand identifier on the Internet.
CESARIO: I see. So how has Lexsynergy protected their brand online?
GREENBERG: When we first started off we were very cost-conscious, so we started with a Google search and a free online trademark search, which you can do with several databases online, to see if anyone else was using the name Lexsynergy. It is an invented word that doesn’t mean anything, so it’s easier to protect. We then secured the domain name in all generic top-level domains, such as com, net, org, info, biz, tel (e.g. Lexsynergy.com, Lexsynergy.tel, etc), and in the countries where we trade or intended to trade. Country code top-level domains or ccTLD (e.g. Lexsynergy.co.uk or Lexsynergy.us), we secured those. And once we had done those, we branched off and started to file trademarks to protect ourselves. And obviously, trademarks are more expensive so we did that at the end as the business grew.
CESARIO: Those can be very expensive. How would you advise a business that doesn’t have a lot of resources to protect their brands online?
GREENBERG: I would start off by coming up with a unique name first, just to make sure that no one else in your particular industry is using that particular mark. I would also try to find an inventive word such as Google or Kodak — those words that mean nothing. For instance, Apple is a very good trademark for computer products in a computer store, but a very poor trademark for a grocery store because it’s descriptive of what it would be selling. So come up with a unique name, then do these online searches through social networking sites or search engines; and if they’re available, go for the domain names, then go for the trademarks. And just remember trademarks are territorial, which means that you only get protection in the country in which you register the mark, and domain names are international, in that they give you international exposure. So I would advise to go that route.
— Enzo F. Cesario is an online brand management specialist and co-founder of Brandsplat, a social media company that uses blogs, articles, videos and social media to drive traffic to your site. For the free Brandcasting Report go to http://www.BrandSplat.com/ or visit our blog at http://www.iBrandCasting.com/