Consumers have easy access to a wide range of information online to enable them to make informed decisions about the goods and services they purchase. So, for many businesses, their brand’s online presence and reputation is an increasingly key element of business success.
There are many ways in which businesses can protect or enhance their brand online, including search engine optimisation, AdWords, content marketing and social media. However, there are also risks. Online infringement is becoming increasingly common, as is the misuse of trade marks or brands on social media. It is therefore very important that businesses have in place a clear online brand protection and management strategy and that legal advice is sought at the earliest opportunity in the event of any infringement by third parties.
As technology advances, online trade mark infringement is becoming increasingly common. Unauthorised use of a trade mark online still constitutes infringement. However, there can sometimes be difficulties with enforcement as trade mark protection is country specific, while the internet is without borders. It can therefore be difficult to enforce trade marks used on websites hosted in countries in which you do not have protection.
A domain name can be purchased from domain registrars such as GoDaddy, NameCheap, 123Reg and so on. However, it is important to know that whilst purchasing a domain name will mean that it is not available for a third party to use as a domain for its website, it will not automatically mean that you have the right to use the domain name as a trade mark. In order to protect your domain in a trade mark sense and enforce it against third parties, you would need to register a trade mark for that domain. Find out more about Trade Mark Registration and Application.
You can buy domain names from domain registrars. There are various search tools on the internet which allow you to check whether a particular domain has already been claimed or whether it is available for purchase. If a domain has already been registered, it might be possible to purchase this from the owner by making contact with the registrar or with the third party directly. Domains can typically be registered for between 1 to 10 years and it is important to ensure that domain registrations are renewed prior to their expiry.
AdWords are an online tool through which businesses can advertise their goods and services. Businesses often invest a large amount in advertising to increase website activity and therefore sales of products or services. However, this can also mean that third parties are incentivised to use trade marks of competitors (for example their name or product name) in adverts for their own products or services, in an attempt to capitalise on the goodwill and reputation of competitors. In this scenario, the owner of the trade mark can complain to Google regarding the advert in question on the basis of its trade mark. It is therefore very important to ensure that you have trade mark protection in all territories relevant to your business.
Social media is another avenue through which trade mark infringement can occur. The usual options for enforcement of a trade mark can be difficult on social media, particularly when it is not clear who is doing the infringing. However, the terms of service of most social media providers prohibit trade mark infringement and most have procedures in place through which infringement can be reported directly to the provider and infringing content removed.
Our team can help you to ensure that you have appropriate protection in place for your brand. We also have a lot of experience in dealing with trade mark infringements online and via social media and can guide you in enforcing your rights against infringers, whether that be directly against the infringing party, or through social media platforms, website hosts or internet service providers.
Call us on 03330 430 350 for comprehensive trade mark support and advice. Or make an enquiry online and one of our Trade Mark Agency team will contact you.