Companies spend large amounts of time, effort and money in developing and promoting their brands. The internet has played a key role in expanding the power of brands by providing countless new ways to market a brand. At the same time, it has made it much easier for others to profit from another company's brand through infringement and misuse and for others to disparage a brand, tarnish its image and impair its value.
The growth of the internet and its use of domain names pose one of the greatest challenges to the protection of brands and trade-marks. In order to mitigate the risks to one's brand there are four things to keep in mind:
- Monitor the internet for everything about your company, its products and services. Hire one of the companies that perform monitoring services if you do not have in-house expertise.
- Register and monitor your trade-marks in every country where you are doing business or expect to be doing business in the near future. Generally speaking, a registered trade-mark will trump a domain name and a social media username that incorporates the trade-mark.
- Register and monitor your trade-marks as domain names and social media usernames.
- Establish a social media policy for your company and your employees and require your licensees and franchisees to have one also.