Protect Your Brand from Cyber-Squatting Parasites and other Internet Nasties

Protect Your Brand from Cyber-Squatting Parasites and other Internet Nasties

Help Protect Your Brand

Your brand is your most precious asset, so you need to protect it, but not at all costs, because you are talking millions to copyright and protect your brand in every legal jurisdiction.

Protection techniques vary in cost and effectiveness, but basic protection is cheap.

Trademark Your Brand

Trademarking your brand gets expensive because you need to protect your brand in every country, even where you have no intention of trading. This is necessary because of the all-pervading reach of social media.

For example, if Ford had no expectations of trading in Zimbabwe and failed to protect the company trademark in that country, a nasty-minded individual there could attach a Ford badge to a donkey cart and then post pictures of it on Twitter and Pinterest that could detract from Ford’s image worldwide.

You have two options; you can fill in all the paperwork yourself, one country at a time or you can pay a trademark lawyer to do it all for you. The second is more reliable but is much more costly. Registration fees vary by country but are mostly in the £500-900 region, plus your legal fees.

EU protection is possible for less, but this will change if Brexit happens.

New Domain Extensions

In 1995, all you had to worry about were .net, .info, and .org domain extensions. You could buy all the ‘com alternatives for £50 a year.

Now there are hundreds of domain extensions and new ones are added every month. A cynic would say they are only designed to extract money from companies. However, they represent a wonderful opportunity for parasitical cyber-squatters if you ignore them.

Trademarking your brand internationally is the best, but most expensive option, but if you have limited your trademarking to the UK or EU, you can just buy the few extensions that could realistically represent a threat to your brand.

Registrars like LCN are trustworthy, keep your searches secret and allow you to buy multiple domains all from one screen, as shown below.

 

Most small businesses cannot afford the cost of copyrighting their brand in every country, so they compromise and just register it in their primary markets.

If you have trademarked your brand name, you can use a service that lets you buy every extension as it becomes available at a cost of only £2-3 each per year.

On Social Media

Trademark protection applies everywhere, including on social media, but you should still register as every variation on your brand before you are granted a trademark because prevention works best.

You need to be active on your customers’ favourite channels, and to associate your brand with good causes. That way, when things go pear-shaped, the prevailing opinion of your business is a positive one.

Monitoring Mentions

You need to know instantly when anyone is talking about you. There are various tools you can use including; Hootsuite, Mention, and TalkWalker Alerts.

If a negative mention of your business pops up, you need to respond to it immediately and move it away from public discussion into private messages or phone conversations. It might be worth offering recompense for any imagined wrongs, even if you suspect the individual is pushing their luck and just playing the system to extract cash from multiple companies. Check the user’s profile and see if it is filled with numerous complaints.

Search engines will rank any discussion about you as news, and it will appear high in search results when anyone is looking for you.

Contingency Plans

The best way to deal with this unwanted publicity is to instantly release many news items that reflect positively on your business. Instant release means having contingency plans, which many companies don’t have, leaving them scrambling to set up newsworthy items in a panic.

Your positive stories could include; how green your offices are, how you are recruiting new staff and how you are sponsoring some worthwhile endeavour for local children. Most importantly, set up a charity campaign and have it ready for an instant roll-out.

Long Story Short

Copyrighting is expensive and not worthwhile outside target countries for marketing.

Domain blocking is similarly expensive and is only possible after you have copyrighted your brand.

Buying the most likely targets for domain sitters can be done for a few hundred pounds a year, and will reduce your risk of attack by a domain parasite to acceptable levels.

After that, you must monitor social channels for mentions of your brand and act immediately to reduce the effects of any negativity.