My thoughts around the brand management space.
I started in the industry as a domain name attorney for Philips Electronics. I enjoyed my role very much. So much so that I left to understand and learn more about domain names in my subsequent roles with various registrars and registries. I now work for a company called Dataprovider.com whose technology is amazing through its simple and powerful approach to structure web content to provide intelligence. I have spent 17+ years in the domain industry, in roles, directly and indirectly,y related, and have observed and learned a lot that has influenced my drive and passion to make a difference.
Here are my observations of the brand protection/brand management space.
It baffles me that corporate brands outsource their IP assets to be managed externally, without taking an interest in learning what value they gain from these services/tools. I am not intending to disparage the providers of these services, in fact, I think they rightfully came about to sell “fear in a box” at a premium, because of the lack of knowledge that existed/exists.
A corporate brand, looking to enforce its online rights on the web, should understand a domain name’s lifecycle in depth. Why? To gain a thorough understanding of how to build an effective online strategy for their IP assets that help enforce their IP rights that will drive brand identity.
If IP professionals in the space displayed much-needed curiosity, they could also learn a lot from domain investors, who can educate anyone on the value of a domain name and yet are still “judged” wrongfully and at times ignorantly for their business strategies based on their affiliation with a few bad apples who had once “cybserquattered” on brand names online.
When I worked at Philips Electronics as a Domain Name Attorney (who had that title back then? Who has this title today?), I was naturally curious to understand the invoices received to gauge the value gained in relation to the price paid. I learned fairly quickly what the Registry cost was for a TLD and tried to clearly understand the margins that were added to the cost to register a domain name with a service provider. I never quite understood the pricing given that a brand can go directly to a Registry (not for all TLD’s) to register a domain name at a fraction of a cost.
I was compelled to write this because I work for a company that indexes content from the web, and structures the data to provide actionable intelligence. In other words, it is publicly available data from a website, indexed and structured, so this is not data that has been created. This is factual data from a website that is updated monthly to track changes. When I think about the lack of curiosity of the IP community (I am purposely stating IP community to include, all involved, sales/product folks at service providers, law firms, in-house IP attorneys), it makes me think that it would be interesting to know what drives every one of these folks to wake up each day and do the job they do. With the data we index today, if I had my old job back at Philips, I would have become more effective, ensuring that any service provider providing a service to us would have to be accountable and responsible for every cost line item that we are billed at the company. This would almost certainly drive costs down. In addition to all of that, the data itself is so powerful that an infringer would have to think twice before registering a domain name or using the trademark in any unauthorized fashion with any website content. The data would serve panelists from various dispute resolution centers well by aiding them in reaching decisions that are more consistent, creating more confidence for both complainants and respondents.
Dot Brands that have been applied for and are still unused – what are service providers doing to influence strategy and execution there? Again, the money spent on defensive registrations and applications – is it really worth it? OR is just safer to follow the mainstream route because anything different would create a perceived risk that no one is willing to stand by because they fear to put their job on the line.
The industry needs to have a holistic view and approach to the value of a domain name, in the context of the world wide web, with the ultimate aim to make the web a safe place for the user and also innovative enough to spark creativity as global internet penetration and smartphone mobile usage is on the rise.