Like a stubborn dog with a bone, I am not ready to drop this topic…not yet anyway! Back in February, you may remember we commented on a trend we had noticed, whereby companies were wanting to reduce their domain portfolios? Well, since then, it has been playing on my mind as I feel we need to expand a bit more and delve deeper into the value of domain names in a company’s IP portfolio. So….

 

Let’s set the scene

Back in 1985, the world’s first domain name was registered when the internet was still largely a non‑commercial platform. Wow! That doesn’t seem that long ago, does it? Anyway, as the internet evolved and we all got more onboard with this thing called the World Wide Web, the domain landscape developed and grew like wildfire. Fast forward to today, and partly thanks to the COVID pandemic, the internet has become like our right-hand man and the number of domains, and types of domains, are mind-blowing!

 

Domain names rise up the ranks

Despite often being overlooked or viewed as the IP’s poorer cousin, the domain name has been quietly building a place for itself in the IP world. They have evolved from being a functional necessity to an essential asset for any company wanting to build a strong online presence. So why is it they still have to fight for their spot on the IP top table along with trademarks, patents and copyrights? How come the main navigational tool of the global internet, registering in its millions and on which billions of e-commerce dollars are spent on a daily basis, is not considered a valuable IP asset? While there are differences, I do not believe these diminish the value of domain names, but rather add to them.

 

Inter-departmental approach

As mentioned in the previous article, brands have never been more vulnerable with the ever-changing risks associated with online cybercrime. It is therefore essential that organisations adopt a proactive plan and collaborate with multiple departments (Management, Finance, IP, Legal, IT, Marketing etc.) across the business to ensure their domain portfolios are well organised and effectively managed – similar to how companies manage trademarks, for example. Looking at the bigger picture and understanding the role each IP asset plays is key. By truly appreciating the relationship and value between a company’s brand IP assets and its registered domains will allow organisations to adopt a strategic, long-term view that will stand them in a much better position to fight the onslaught of potential infringers and attacks.  As a result, businesses will be able to sleep a little easier knowing that their brand’s reputation is better secured, and customer trust is protected.

 

Don’t underestimate the value of your domains

I recently read a quote that said: “Those we underestimate in life can often serve as guides to our lack of vision.” This cannot be more relevant when considering domains and their value as an IP asset. While the above covers a lot of important points, I cannot stress more that companies who fail to grasp domain trends/challenges and chose not to invest in their domain name portfolios, as they would their other IP portfolios, are showing a lack of vision and are exposing their brands to additional risk. After all, a domain name is the core of your online presence and having several domain names is important for driving user traffic, boosting search engine visibility, and protecting your valuable brand.

In this age of e-everything, managing a company’s Internet presence is critical and a domain name portfolio is the strongest intellectual property asset a business can use to build a proactive and robust strategy that will promote and protect its online identity.

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