Apr 2014 11

New rules mean brand owners must review SSL certificates now

Recent rule changes mean that certain digital certificates will no longer be trusted, potentially putting domains and valuable information at risk. CSC recommends that all brand holders review certificates now to find out whether this change affects them.

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Apr 2014 08

Tackling domain name infringements

By Stina Pilotti |

Domain names are central to the identity of most businesses today. Good strategies for domain name protection and monitoring can significantly reduce the likelihood of your intellectual property being misused online. But when they do occur, domain infringements can have rapid, far-reaching, negative impacts.

In the third installment of her blog series on digital rights enforcement, Stina Pilotti, CSC’s Head of Digital IP Advisory Services, looks at the options for enforcing your rights when domain name infringement happens to you.

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Apr 2014 03

‘Geo’ gTLDs set to boom around the world

The recent launch of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) has created a host of opportunities for businesses looking to register their brands and position themselves in the correct sector.

However, the expansion has created some more unexpected routes for businesses to take when it comes to their domains. One of these is so called geographic or ‘geo’ TLDs, which allow companies and individuals to register for the domain of the city they are based in.

World Map made of dotsThe first of these city domains to be widely available is .berlin, which has seen the suffix shoot to near the top of the new gTLD registration charts. Organizations and individuals have welcomed the opportunity to request web addresses ending in .berlin as an alternative to the more traditional options or the German national suffix .de.

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Mar 2014 31

The Inside Story on ICANN 49 in Singapore

By Tommy Ho

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) began its 49th public meeting in Singapore on March 23 with an announcement of new statistics and milestones intended to illustrate the progress of the new generic top-level domain (gTLD) program.

Singapore_200wIn his opening remarks during the first of three global meetings in 2014, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé emphasized that more than 175 new gTLDs have been delegated and are live on the Internet, including .nyc, .cologne, .trade, and .机构 (Chinese for “agencies/institutions”). ICANN’s chair Dr. Stephen Crocker also talked about ICANN’s recently established office and presence in Singapore (and Istanbul) as an indication of the organization’s increased global participation.

However, most of the first day of business at ICANN 49 was focused on an announcement made a week earlier by the US Department of Commerce signaling its intention to transition the stewardship of ICANN’s technical function in managing the root name servers for the Internet.

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Mar 2014 27

How to fight search engine fraud

By Stina Pilotti

Every minute, more than two million searches are made in Google. Appearing high in search rankings therefore becomes very important for companies in the struggle to reach customers and build their brands.

In the second installment of our three-part series on digital rights enforcement, Stina Pilotti, CSC’s Head of Digital IP Advisory Services, examines how brands can enforce their rights in online search.

SearchWith searching still the most popular activity online, your brand’s position in search results remains of paramount importance in the struggle to reach customers. What’s most important in search is how highly you are ranked and, of course, that you rank higher than competitors. Statistics show that 95.3% of search engine users never look beyond the first page of search results. If you’re on the second page you are, in effect, invisible. And because most people don’t scroll down but only look at the top part of the page, even a low placement on the first page gives a company a great disadvantage compared to listings “above the fold.”

Companies have spent years developing search engine optimization skills and keeping up with the latest algorithm updates. At the same time, fraudsters have also been honing their SEO skills and have succeeded in diverting traffic away from many legitimate sites to questionable and often bogus platforms.

What are your options if someone is infringing your brand in search? It depends whether the problems are in the search results or in sponsored/paid-for listings.

Search results. If people use your trademarked terms in keywords, there is little you can do to stop them. Google will not investigate or restrict the use of trademark terms in keywords at all, even if a trademark complaint is received. Microsoft will only investigate in certain jurisdictions, specifically Australia, Brazil, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. The way to fight back is to improve your own SEO performance, which is good brand-building practice anyway. Currently, the Google search algorithm gives increasing weight to your social media presence. So as well as traditional optimization, ensuring that you have a presence on channels like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ can also improve your rankings. Regularly posting material that’s relevant to your keyword can help push offending listings below the fold.

Quote_Enforcement_SearchSponsored and paid-for listings. The removal of sponsored listings in search engines is still a very hotly debated issue. There is a clear distinction in case law between the use of a competitor’s trademark as a keyword and the use of it in advertising text. This has shaped the way enforcement takes place in search.

The case law that has emerged is reflected in the way online providers have worded their rules and regulations and what they will and will not take action against. Both Microsoft and Google will investigate and may restrict the use of a trademark within ad text. Ads that use restricted trademarks in their text may not be allowed to run. This policy applies worldwide.

There is a difference between search engine liability and the liability of the advertiser who purchased the keyword and is responsible for the content of the ad. While courts have been reluctant to impose liability on search engines, this has not necessarily been the case for advertisers.

Auction sites. Although they have a narrower market than the major search engines, auction sites are also targeted by fraudsters. Platforms such as eBay, Amazon and Alibaba all have straightforward complaint procedures and in some cases protection processes, like eBay’s VeRO program and Alibaba’s Aliprotect. In our experience these sites are quick to respond, and well-founded complaints about infringing listings are usually successful.

Ultimately, enforcing your rights in search engine results is an excellent investment, because it contributes to your brand-building efforts while knocking fraudsters out of the way.

For more information on CSC’s enforcement services or to request a complimentary consultation with an online enforcement specialist, please visit cscglobal.com.

Further reading: This recent article in World Trademark Review explores one of the most urgent issues facing brands today: how do you protect your brand when its “digital footprint” is growing all the time?

 

Mar 2014 25

Upcoming ‘dot UK’ extension provides new online branding opportunity

In June 2014, “.uk” will be launched, giving organisations an opportunity to buy a shorter domain name extension.

dotUK_200wUntil this year, the UK has been one of only a few European countries not allowing people to register domains directly before the country code extension (like .fr or .de.). This new option means people using – or thinking of using – a .uk domain can present a “shorter, sharper” online presence. When UK registry Nominet researched the appeal of .uk, 72% of businesses said they thought .uk should be an option alongside .co.uk, org.uk, and so on.

In the UK, 35.7m people use the internet every day. And 37% of UK internet shoppers now buy online every week.

According to Nominet, 81% of people in the UK prefer .uk domains when searching or buying online. At over 10.5 million domain registrations, .uk is the 3rd largest ccTLD—and given the size of the UK economy, .uk offers an attractive opportunity for corporations outside the UK too.

Dot UK at a glance:

  • Launch date 10th June 2014.
  • Most existing holders of .co.uk, .org.uk, .me.uk, .net.uk, .plc.uk or .ltd.uk domains will have the corresponding .uk domain reserved for them for 5 years. To find out your rights in .uk, visit the lookup tool.
  • Registrants must maintain their existing domain name to continue to qualify for the right to register the .uk name.
  • Companies wanting a brand new .uk domain, where there are no existing domains with rights, will be able to register one from launch, on 10th June 2014.

It’s important to note that for eligible companies, your .uk brand will be reserved until June 2019. It will not point to any website until it is registered, so it’s important to take action as soon as possible.

Quote_NominetNominet CEO Lesley Cowley said: “The new .uk is for people who want a short, memorable domain in the UK’s favourite namespace. We already know 81% of UK consumers prefer domains ending in .uk when searching or buying online, and we found the new domain has extra appeal among a more tech-savvy, digitally engaged population.”

Welcoming the new domain, CSC Digital Brand Services VP Mark Calandra said“This is a great opportunity for businesses operating in or marketing to the UK. With the domain space being limited, it will give organizations a new way to launch their businesses and communities online.”

To find out your rights in .uk, visit the lookup tool.

And to learn how CSC can help you get set up in this exciting new namespace, please contact your CSC representative or get in touch with us via dbservices@cscglobal.com.

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Mar 2014 20

Enforcing your rights in social and mobile

by Stina Pilotti

Today, many brands’ digital footprints have expanded beyond domains to include social media and mobile apps. But these channels, run as they are by many different vendors, lack central regulation. How can brand owners enforce their rights when faced with a serious infringement of their trademark in these channels?

In the first of a three-part blog series on digital rights enforcement, Stina Pilotti, CSC’s Head of Digital IP Advisory Services, looks at the challenges of social media platforms and mobile app stores.

SocialMedia_200wEveryone wants to see and be seen. Social platforms like Facebook and Twitter and popular app stores such as Google Play give brands as well as people a way to raise their profiles. But unlike domain names, where years of published case law has provided fairly clear guidelines on what is acceptable and what is not, the social and mobile worlds all have their own regulations and policies and no published precedents or case law to provide guidance for brand owners facing infringements. What can you do when someone infringes on your brand in these channels?

The starting point in the U.S. is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and in Europe, Article 14 of the Electronic Commerce Directive. Both pieces of legislation oblige service providers to act when someone brings to their attention a copyright infringement that has taken place on their platforms. Accordingly, most service providers in both the U.S. and Europe have procedures for DMCA takedown notices.

For other types of infringement—for example, when somebody impersonates you or uses trademark-protected content—each platform’s own policies determine what happens. It is not always clear who at the provider makes decisions about removal and suspension, and on what basis the decisions are made. The policies themselves are opaque: there is no clarity or consistency around when or why providers will take action. And because no decisions are ever published, there is no case law to follow.

The key in the first instance, then, is to be familiar with each provider’s terms and conditions. As the following summaries show, each one has nuances that brand holders should be aware of.

Twitter’s usernames or ‘handles’ are a big deal for both users and brand owners. You can request to have a username suspended based on complaints such as trademark infringement or impersonation. And as part of the suspension request it is sometimes possible to request the transfer of the username.

However, there is no general procedure for having usernames transferred—this must be part of a suspension request. Twitter can also take action against serial infringers, terminating the accounts of those it deems to be “repeat infringers.” However, there is nothing to prevent the person behind the offending account from setting up a new account with new contact details.

Facebook has a complaints process for infringing usernames but the company only “reserves the right to remove or reclaim a username if we believe it is appropriate.” While the company mentions responding to complaints about usernames that do not closely resemble a user’s actual name, there is no further guidance about Facebook’s policy.

Although its guidelines state that usernames are not transferable, Facebook’s “statement of rights and responsibilities” notes that as a user you promise that, “You will not transfer your account (including any Page or application you administer) to anyone without first getting our written permission.” This indicates that a transfer is possible under certain circumstances.

Pinterest will update, transfer or suspend usernames, Pin Board names, or any other content that has been reported as misleading or in violation of a trademark. However, like Facebook, its rules lack clarity, referring to action that it “deems appropriate.”

Apple’s App Store does not resolve infringements itself but instead uses a complaints policy in which the App Store Legal Team puts brand owners in direct contact with the provider of the disputed app.

Google recommends that brand holders contact the creator of infringing content directly or, for fraud or impersonation, get in touch with law enforcement. However, it bears mentioning that complaints made via Google’s media channels may be published on chillingeffects.org, a clearinghouse that displays cease and desist notices.

The good news for most of the online platforms is that action can be fast: complaints are often turned around in less than 48 hours.

Overall, the fragmented nature of social and mobile app spaces makes enforcement complex for brand owners. As with domain names, there is a strong argument to be made for defensive registration of usernames and handles in order to pre-empt the difficulties of enforcement.

And as always, it’s worth talking to an expert partner who knows the platforms in detail and can get to the right solutions quickly.

For more information on CSC’s enforcement services or to request a complimentary consultation with an online enforcement specialist, please visit cscglobal.com.

Further reading: This recent article in World Trademark Review explores one of the most urgent issues facing brands today: how do you protect your brand when its “digital footprint” is growing all the time?

Mar 2014 03

ICANN opens comment period on DNS collisions in New gTLDs

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is looking at new ways to reduce the risk of traffic intended for internal network destinations ending up on the internet via the Domain Name System (DNS).

Collisions in the DNS namespace have the potential to expose significant security-related issues for users of DNS.

While the ICANN report did not find that new generic top level domains (gTLDs) will fundamentally increase the risks associated with DNS namespace collisions, it is dedicated to reducing the risks of the events occurring.

The research commissioned by ICANN did indicate that every TLD that has been added to the root since 2007 has exhibited some symptoms of collision activity prior to delegation, with the most problematic DNS namespace collisions occurring not just at the TLD level, but wherever collisions cross administrative control boundaries in the DNS.

The report commissioned by the organisation included a host of recommendations, from minor fixes to the extreme of killing a delegated second-level domain to deal with the issue.

ICANN described the report and its recommendations as a “comprehensive” approach to reducing current and future DNS namespace collisions. This will be carried out by altering operations of potential namespace issues and providing the emergency response capabilities needed if systems are adversely impacted.

In total, 11 recommendations were made in the report, which it is hoped will go a long way to reducing namespace collisions and the potential security issues that may occur as a result.

The recommendations include permanently reserving the .corp, .home and .mail TLDs, making more technical information available regarding the introduction of new gTLDs and the issues surrounding DNS namespace collisions.

Emergency response options are limited to situations where there is a reasonable belief that the DNS namespace collision presents a clear and present danger to human life. Another recommendation would see ICANN require new TLD registries to publish the controlled interruption zone immediately upon delegation in the root zone, with collision-related restrictions then removed after a 120-day period.

Other recommendations included relieving the prohibition on wildcard records during the controlled interruption period and the monitoring of the implementation of controlled interruption by each registry to guarantee the correct procedures are followed and standards are upheld.

Feb 2014 19

CSC Digital Brand Services Names Patrick Hauss as a European Regional Director

patrcik_hauss_prBased out of CSC’s Paris office, intellectual property expert will focus on helping brand owners manage their digital assets.

Wilmington, DE (www.cscglobal.com): One of France’s leading intellectual property experts has joined CSC Digital Brand Services as a regional director in Europe.

Based in Paris, France, Patrick Hauss is an academic, author, and IP practitioner who has held senior positions at organizations within the domain industry and at major global brands. Most recently he served as consultant to DotParis, the new domain for the French capital.

Hauss was previously responsible for brand protection, trademarks and domain names at Orange and Crédit Mutuel CIC Bank Group. Formerly he was a shareholder and chief commercial officer for a major European domain name registrar.

Continue reading the full press release ….

Feb 2014 18

To Block Or Not? For Trademark Owners Tackling New gTLDs, the Answer is Yes

by Tommy Ho

In our recent webinar on how to prepare fodpmlr the launch of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), we reviewed the key things that trademark owners should consider when deciding on their approach to this program. One of the key considerations for proactively preventing trademark infringement in new gTLDs is whether to use domain blocking. With multiple new gTLDs launching each week, trademark owners shouldn’t delay in deciding if this is the right route for them.

What is domain blocking?

A domain is blocked when it is allocated but not delegated. This means the DNS name servers that allow the registrant to use the domain for a website or for email are not activated. Blocking is particularly useful when a trademark owner wants to protect their brand in an adult-oriented top-level domain (TLD) such as .xxx.

The Donuts DPML

The Donuts Domain Protected Marks List (DPML) provides blocking for an exact match of a trademark, or ‘contains’ terms (strings that contain an exact match of the mark along with other relevant keywords) for a minimum registration term of five years across all the Donuts-managed TLDs. Covering approximately 200 extensions (compared to a potential 600-plus open new gTLDs in ICANN’s overall program), the Donuts DPML could feasibly provide protection for a trademark in one-third of new gTLDs, for a single fee.

At the time of writing, a search of Interbrand’s top 100 global brands indicates that nearly a quarter of these company names have been blocked in the Donuts TLDs using a DPML block.

Is domain blocking right for my company?

There are several issues to bear in mind when deciding if the DPML is right for your company and trademark:

  • Donuts cannot provide a definitive list of its 200 TLDs at this time, although it has already signed close to one hundred registry agreements with ICANN and is halfway to its target number.
  • A Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) registration with proof of use is a mandatory pre-requisite for domain blocking. The signed mark data (SMD) file is required at the time the block is registered.
  • DPML is not a wildcard service. If a mark owner wishes to protect a mark name as well as other strings, each must be filed and purchased separately.
  • Any mark owner, including the DPML holder, may ‘override’ the block in a specific TLD, thereby activating the specific domain name as long as they provide a SMD with an exact match of the blocked term (applicable override and registration fees apply).
  • More portfolio registries are expected to launch blocking services soon. Demand Media, now rebranded as Rightside Registry, has already announced its DPML service, which provides blocking in more than twenty-five TLDs.

Overall, domain blocking is a worthwhile consideration for brand and trademark owners. It offers a simple, cost-effective and flexible way to protect trademarks in new gTLDs. And with these domains likely to form part of most brands’ “digital footprints” from 2014 onwards, domain blocking is a necessary added protection.

To request a DPML consultation with the CSC Brand Digital Services team, please visit cscglobal.com.

Further reading: For details on the data-driven approach to gTLD strategy that we are taking with our clients at CSC, please read our recently published piece on “How to make the most of new gTLDs without committing excess time and budget”)

Upcoming webinar: Rights Protection in New gTLDs and Rightside’s DPML

CSC and New gTLDs

CSC Digital Brand Services works with trademark owners around
the world to help them optimize their brands in the entire digital space, including new gTLDs. CSC is an accredited registrar and trusted service provider for the Donuts and Rightside registries. Our Brand Advisory Team, available to all CSC clients, is dedicated to helping our clients develop and implement successful Internet and domain name strategies.