The Benefits of Software for Domain and Trademark Monitoring
Let’s say that you have a great idea for starting up a small business; selling pizza at a pizzeria you inherited. You name your store “Mike’s Pizza” and open your doors to customers. After you start having some success, however, a competitor opens up a shop across the street, called “The Mike’s Pizza,” and starts selling worse food. Now customers don’t know which one of you is the legitimate salesperson and which one is just a con-artist trying to cash in on your success! To make matters worse, since people are confusing the two of you, some people have your excellent pizza and mistakenly laud The Mike’s for it, and others have The Mike’s pizza and mistakenly condemn you for it’s low quality. New people in town don’t know who to go to, and returning customers become increasingly confused. Over time, the reputation of your brand erodes, and it may even cost you your business.
Unfortunately, the same situation can occur with online businesses. In fact, it can occur even more easily since cyber con-artists don’t have to fuss about managing brick-and-mortar locations and can reach a global audience with ease. If you wouldn’t tolerate it in your store, why tolerate it on your website? One of the easiest things you can do to protect your brand is register your domain for a trademark.
What is a Trademark?
Despite the “mark” moniker, a trademark is not a physical entity that gets attached to your domain in any way; rather, it is just a set of legal protections that you have as the domain owner to defend your name from those who wish to exploit it for their own purposes. To put it another way, it’s more akin to insurance, should someone damage your brand, than a shield protecting it from damage in the first place. That being said, don’t underestimate the value of a trademark. For small businesses who may not have a squadron of lawyers to safeguard their intellectual property, a trademark may be the best form of brand security available.
In order for your domain name to qualify for a trademark, all that really needs to be the case is that your name is distinctive (in other words, not just a generic phrase or word) and that customers associate it with your business. This means that if, for example, you sold bread online, the domain “bread.com” would likely not qualify, but “carbohydratecreations.com” very well might.
Why do you need one?
Applying a trademark to your domain is similar, in essence, to calling dibs. It declares that you are the sole entity that has the legal ability to use the name. Indirectly, it also means that others who use the name, or use a version of it similar enough to cause confusion, are therefore doing so illegally. As a result, it guarantees you certain protections and rights and makes it easier to dispute others who are using the name fraudulently. Although a trademark is not a perfect security measure to totally protect your domain and your business, it goes a long way, and it makes the life of hackers or cyber criminals wishing to harm your brand significantly more difficult.
Monitoring your Trademark
Once you have obtained a trademark on your domain, you may be wondering how it can be enforced. After all, the number of total websites on the internet is increasing at an unprecedented rate, and it’s so easy to register a domain! So how is it even possible to know about an infringing site before it has already damaged your business? Luckily for you, many domain registrars come equipped with software to monitor your trademark for you.
101domain, for instance, offers a range of trademark protection packages, spanning from a US state trademarking watch for $395 annually all the way up to Global domain monitoring, including homographs (characters that look the same on a computer but are actually different, such as a capital “i” and lowercase ‘l” [I/l]), for $999 annually. This may seem like a steep price, and it may even be more than you paid for your domain in the first place, but bear in mind that people who register fraudulent websites are more clever than most people give them credit for, and if you leave the window open for them, they may well inflict more than that amount in damages to your revenue.
No matter which package you opt for, you can rest assured that you will be investing in reliable software backed up by a team of professionals, all doing everything they can to safeguard your rights as a trademark holder.
It should be obvious by now that trademarking your brand goes a long way for protecting your property and your security as a business owner. Starting a business is risky; a lot can go wrong very quickly. It’s a fast paced world and your reputation means almost more than the quality of your products themselves. Trademarking your domain can help stop some of these problems before they even occur. It can help you maintain sovereignty over your property.