Much like a logo applied to physical products, a company's website domain name contains a great deal of brand equity and needs to be protected appropriately. The intellectual property community has come to understand the importance of these issues in recent months as cases of so-called cybersquatting abound and organizations prepare their applications for a new website registration option.
Cybersquatting involves malevolently registering or using a domain name with the sole intent of profiting from the reputation or trademark of another party. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, there were more than 2,700 such cases seen around the world in 2011 - the highest total ever recorded.
With the introduction of a new domain name provision that will allow owners to essentially apply original suffixes - such as a brand name - to their website addresses, there may be even more territory for cybersquatters to dwell.
"With the domain name coordinating body, ICANN, allowing for a massive increase in the number of new domains, brand owners' resources will likely be stretched even further," explained WIPO director general Francis Gurry.
In a rush to protect their brand equity and guard their company names from misuse, businesses are already filing applications for rights to additional domain names. According to the latest analysis from Afilias, 44 percent of large companies intend to submit a "dot Brand application" for recognition in the new system.