Startups: Monitor the use of your brands on the Internet!
Cybersquatting often refers to the age of the target brand. Classically, a brand derived its notoriety partly from its long history. This assertion must be mitigated. This is not always the case, and it is less and less the case. Abusive registrations of domain names reproducing or imitating trademarks in the information technology sector occur daily. However, outside of this particular sector, the rise of a brand to global recognition is rarely dazzling. Nevertheless, with the help of social media, an innovative product, an award of excellence, fundraising within the framework of an incubator, a happy crowdfunding, a creative or charismatic leader are all invigorating circumstances for the notoriety of a brand. Success attracts parasites. This statement ignores the time it takes for a brand to differentiate itself from its competitors.
The history of the Juul brand is a clear illustration. Founded in 2015, this manufacturer of electronic cigarettes has been forced, in just a few years, to initiate more than a hundred extrajudicial proceedings aimed at ending the use of domain names which were often unjustified, sometimes usurpable, or harmful.
In the fashion industry, Jacquemus (founded in 2014) is another example of a brand which, although in its prime, was early on to defend its reputation and integrity in UDRP proceedings. The use which is made of the disputed domain names proves to be harmful both for the company and for visitors to fraudulent sites: contamination via a computer virus (D2020-2073, Jacquemus SAS v. Wenben zhou, September 28, 2020) or passive ownership of the domain name (D2020-2076, Jacquemus SAS v. Michael Pe, September 24, 2020; D2020-2063, Jacquemus SAS v. Privacy Administrator, Anonymize, Inc., September 28, 2020).
In any case, it should be borne in mind that well-known brands are not the only ones targeted by cybersquatting. Start-ups can be exposed to difficulties falling within the scope of intellectual property, including cybersquatting and counterfeiting. In this regard, we advise these young companies: i) to conduct an audit of their portfolio of domain names based in particular on their development prospects; and ii) carry out surveillance, either continuously or temporarily (but at regular intervals), in order to identify and eliminate possible cybersquatting or counterfeiting cases.