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Trademark registration is a crucial business process as it does not only protect a brand’s image but also its consumers by ensuring that they receive high-quality products and services. And it looks like organizations all over the world are seeing the value of trademarking their brands. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), for instance, saw a 19.2% increase in trademark applications worldwide in 2018, which translates to around 10.9 million.
Every year, however, courts also hear thousands of trademark infringement cases involving domains. It turns out that the very thing that helps protect an organization’s reputation also needs security.
In this post, we looked back on some trademark infringement cases and explored how brands can better avoid the same predicament using brand monitoring services like Domain Brand Monitor.
3M vs. 3N
First on the list is the lawsuit that 3M filed against Changzhou Huawei Advanced Material Co. Ltd. for using the brand 3N. 3M won the case, with the judge ordering the company behind 3N to pay for damages. The incident taught us that although the trademark is only for the two-letter word, imitating it and using its popularity to line one’s pocket indeed constitutes infringement.
DreamWorks Animation vs. Zeng
Zeng, a Chinese national, registered orientaldreamworks[.]com and shanghaidreamworks[.]com but never used them. He also quoted a price of more than US$15,000 for each domain name, prompting DreamWorks Animation to file a case against him. The judge ruled that this was a classic case of cybersquatting, especially since Zeng had more than 200 domain names under his name.
Disney vs. Stephan Huber
Although Stephan Huber’s shopdisney[.]eu domain name resolves to an online shop where he sells products that are not related to The Walt Disney Company and its creations, the WIPO panel decided in favor of the rightful owner of the trademark. The domain is confusingly similar to the Disney brand, and people may think that they are buying from Disney itself instead of Huber.
All three cases cited above ended with the trademark owner victorious. Still, when we factor in other aspects such as the reputational damages caused when infringements remain undetected, brands are often better off keeping an eye on their trademarks — starting with domain names.
That is where Brand Monitor comes in handy, and here’s how to use it:
1. Check for typos: The tool can detect typos, which can be used by bad actors to imitate your brand’s domain. When we ran 3M on the tool, it immediately identified 43 typos. 3N was one of them, along with 33m, 3mm, and 3-m.
2. Dig deeper: At this point, users have the option to investigate each typo or at least those that are very similar to their brands. They can do so using WHOIS Search. When we ran 3n[.]com on the tool, for instance, we found out that the domain has existed since 1998 and that the registrant is from China.
3. Wait for 24 hours: The tool returns a list of newly added, modified, or dropped domains related to the ones included in the tracker. Users can set up email notification so they can immediately be alerted to domain changes. That way, they can stay updated about potential trademark infringement.
Trademark registration helps protect a brand’s image and reputation. Unfortunately, that does not stop some people from using it in bad faith. Trademark infringement is a sad reality, but with the right trademark monitoring tools, no company has to live in it. Brand Monitor is one service that can help brand owners check for possible infringements involving their domain names.
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