Domain protection during a recession

Reading the mainstream news over the course of 2022 has been more than enough to give any company C-level team heartburn. Will there be a recession? If so, how long will it last? What should I be doing now to save costs in preparation? Etc. etc.

 

With a worldwide recession now seen as inevitable for 2023, we’ve seen some nervous movements in our industry with some brand owners considering reducing their domain portfolio in response to the looming recession. For us, this is extremely concerning since we have seen from previous recessions that retail is usually the first industry to be hit as people move their buying habits online. Consequently, online becomes a significant space for opportunities, both from a sales growth and an infringement perspective.

 

This was particularly true during the COVID pandemic and the knock-on recession where everyone’s purchasing behaviours, social interaction and cultural consumption moved to an almost entirely digital environment, even for those less internet savvy! Consequently, we also saw cybercrime mirror the online explosion in 2020 with phishing and scam fraud growing by 59%(1), counterfeit detections increasing by 38%(2) and malicious domain activity up by 22%(1)! More specifically, the WIPO, cybersquatting case filing surged with a 13.8% increase in UDRP cases in 2020(3).

 

Therefore, in preparation for this recession, in our opinion, brand owners should not be panicking and cutting domains, but rather investing in them. For us, our advice is clear – if a company is willing to invest in a trademark for that brand in a particular region, why not the domain? Carrying out our client framework mapping work continuously highlights how domains are heavily under-registered when compared to their trademarks and it is easy to see how a decision to cut a domain is made without thinking about the bigger picture.

 

Whether it is a cost-cutting exercise, an inter-departmental communication issue, or a belief that these domains aren’t “used” anymore, before cancelling any domains, companies need to ask themselves three questions:

  • Do you have a trademark registered for this brand in this country?
  • Do you have online / physical business for this brand?
  • Do you expect business within the next 5 years for this brand?

If the answer is YES to any of these 3 questions, then you need to keep the domain(s)!

 

Protecting your online presence is more critical than ever

 

We’ve written about this a lot, but the importance hasn’t diminished. Just as in the midst of COVID-19, a EURO spent on securing your brand online will pay dividends down the line, especially when considering the costs of having to fight any infringements as a consequence of the dropped domain(s).

 

With the recession looming, now is not the time for panic. It is essential for any business in a digital environment to understand the commercial value of their domain portfolios and adopt a strategic, long-term view to ensure they are adequately protected. This is even more critical when considering the predicted growth and importance of online business during the upcoming recession. Companies that fail to invest in their domain name portfolio during uncertain times, as they do their trademark and patent portfolios, are not only leaving themselves open to major brand and reputational risk, but they are also reducing the biggest growth and revenue channel they will have.

 

BRANDIT supported a number of clients in protecting their brands through the pandemic, and recession or not, we can face this next phase together with the right approach and thinking in place.

 

If you would like to talk to us on this topic, please contact us through our website or email us at domains@brandit.com.

 

 

1) https://www.interpol.int/en/News-and-Events/News/2020/INTERPOL-report-shows-alarming-rate-of-cyberattacks-during-COVID-19

2) Figure is based on the sale of counterfeit goods across apparel, toys, home goods, accessories and sporting goods between March and April 2020. https://iccwbo.org/content/uploads/sites/3/2020/08/2020-icc-sme-guide.pdf

3) WIPO,” WIPO cybersquatting case filing surges during COVID-19 crisis”, https://www.wipo.int/amc/en/news/2020/cybersquatting_covid19.html, Jun 2020

 

 

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