What is digital brand protection? When should I start monitoring my digital brand? Can a start-up afford online brand monitoring?
Zacco’s Digital Brand team was established in 2016 to bundle and concentrate their related services to Zacco’s intellectual property and cyber security service offerings. Business Line Director Tobias Harhoff (TH), Sales Manager Magnus Ljungdahl (ML) and Associate Attorney Jennifer Godorn (JG) took their time to share their knowledge and answer some basic questions on digital brand protection and management.
What is a digital brand?
JG: Basically, your digital brand is equal to the overall online presence of all products and services that you offer. Your digital brand represents an intangible asset that is strongly connected to your Intellectual Property rights. Domain names and trademarks are maybe the most obvious bits of your digital brand, but there is much more to it that needs to be protected and monitored.
ML: In fact, all the different types of intellectual property are increasingly connected and in our age of digitalisation, your digital brand is everything you do on your online channels. Counterfeits that are available on online marketplaces might infringe your trademark as well as your patent rights. Misses in security matters encourage cyber fraud, your clients’ data can leak, and all this will eventually damage your trademark and devaluate your intangible assets. Zacco with its holistic perspective on Intellectual Property has experts for domain names, trademarks, patents, software development and cyber security in-house. We take care of all these aspects of your digital presence and help you register, protect and monitor your intellectual property rights.
As an entrepreneur, when should I start monitoring my digital brand?
ML: As early and soon as you can. We don’t say you need to go and register a bunch of domain names, but you need to integrate decisions regarding your digital brand and other IP-related matters into your company’s journey. These decisions should be based on viable information and a clear strategy. Thinking things through at an early point will increase your Intellectual Property awareness and ensure you don't miss any opportunities or make expensive mistakes like not registering a vital domain name.
JG: And it is important to stress that all your Intellectual Property Rights are connected, you cannot look at just one at a time. If you protect your trademark portfolio in an effective way, these efforts needs to be backed up with a strategy for the corresponding domain names as well. Of course, it is an advantage for my clients that I have worked with both fields and have access to senior domain name as well as trademark experts among my colleagues with many years of experience in the field. Moreover, if I need e.g. digital forensics experts to investigate a matter for the client, I can find them at my office as well.
Let’s say, I have a small budget, maybe I run a start-up in its very beginning. Can I keep track on my digital brand anyway?
TH: All clients want to achieve cost effectiveness and we are used to adapt our services to budget restrictions. The requirements of our clients differ vastly, from multinational enterprises with massive resources to newly founded businesses with great ambitions. But then also their needs differ and we always try to find a way that works for each client. We have effective tools to offer with scalable solutions, enabling us to match each clients’ demand. We have effective digital brand and domain management tools to offer with scalable solutions, enabling us to match each clients’ demand. Zacco’s trademark and domain name interface called IP view also gives our clients a full time overview over their domain name and trademark portfolio.
What would be a typical problem that a digital brand consultant solves for a client?
JG: A client would ask for consultation and help if he or she notices that a domain name is taken. This problem comes in all shapes, and we can of course assist to solve it. Maybe someone else favoured and registered a name that you also think is best. If you cannot claim the name as yours by referring to a trademark registration, the solution might be to try to purchase the domain, where I assist on negotiations with the domain holder, or that you have to use a different name in a particular market.
TH: Or maybe a reseller or agent has registered a domain name for their local market. You can avoid trouble by securing your ownership of these domain names, and to regulate IPR ownership in relevant agreements. This makes it easier for you in case you want to change or expand your network of cooperation partners.
ML: Domain names might have been registered in bad faith as well. For example by someone who wants to steal traffic or commit cyber fraud by using a name that has connections to your trademark. In that case, we can assist you in legal disputes regarding the domain or with a takedown depending on your strategy and the urgency of the matter.
The collaboration between digital brand consultants and trademark attorneys or other Zacco consultants, what does it look like?
ML: As said, all your intellectual assets go hand in hand with each other, therefore you will find a close cooperation across all business lines at Zacco. As an example, to minimize the risks, a domain name would be secured prior to filing a trademark application.
JG: Or if a client wants to register a domain name in a country that demands a registered trademark, we can assist seamlessly with the help of Zacco colleagues at other locations or our extensive network of preferred agents.
TH: We also work closely together with our Cyber Security experts, e.g. in regards to basic issues as blocking domain names in a firewall or establish secure handling via DNS as well as more complicated security matters. As our client, you can rest assured that all issues connected to your digital brand is handled with a unique 360° perspective on Intellectual Property.