The Internet today has efficiently created a wide range of opportunities for business firms, companies, organizations, and individuals to communicate their brand messages and reach their target audience. However, keeping aside the Internet’s openness, versatility, and global reach, its unregulated character has created a fertile ground for Trademark and Copyright Infringement too. In the broadest sense, online Intellectual Property (IP) infringement covers the sale of counterfeit products and services through the Internet and a variety of its activities, including cybersquatting, phishing, SEO, and unsolicited email marketing. These activities make up for what we may refer to as the dark side of the digital era.
According to various reports and surveys conducted, the fastest growing area of counterfeit trading and Intellectual Property Infringement is online. Companies can’t nowadays depend on conventional legal remedies for dealing with trademark and copyright abuse on the Internet. Therefore, they must build a proactive and multi-faceted strategy for Copyright and Trademark Protection, which must offer effective methods of adapting to the challenges of the online environment. It should also help the companies in overcoming some of the limitations in the conventional legal approach. For instance, like other forms of Intellectual Property Law, the Trademark Law is also governed by the principles of territoriality. However, on the Internet, it is quite easy to maintain an anonymous identity with the help of offshore internet servers. Consequently, the infringers with this kind of virtual presence can generate huge profits. The difficulties associated with the conventional legal approach leading to successful online IP infringement further includes the aspect of lack of uniformity in the legal landscape. Varying IP laws and regulations in different jurisdictions make it arduous to navigate the legal landscape.
Nevertheless, all is not lost yet as a growing number of technologies and monitoring services are now available to reduce IP violation, support online brand protection, and safeguard brand equity. As a company’s brand and IP assets account for an extreme percentage of its overall business value, a strategic protection program is indispensable for protecting this highly valuable asset base.
AUTOMATED TRADEMARK MONITORING SYSTEMS
For preventing the Trademark Registration of confusingly similar or identical marks by third parties, automated trademark monitoring systems and services can prove to be extremely beneficial. With surveillance mechanisms, these systems monitor trademark use by third parties across product development, point of sale, and distribution. They also efficiently track activities involved in digital marketing, advertising, and social media marketing – that may have a bearing on the brand value and its entity and integrity. Furthermore, they help in signaling to infringers and violators that a trademark is actively protected.
PRIORITIES AND OPTIONS
As the Internet has immensely transformed the business landscape, it has become imperative to keep IP protection strategies in place and outsmart IP infringers in the online marketplace.
Rapidly putting a stop to online infringing activities should be the topmost priority. It requires immediate action for ensuring that no incriminating content is accessible online. Web screening companies linking up with various E-commerce platforms and internet service providers can detect and disable infringing websites and portals.
Claiming monetary damages from infringers can be a tough task, especially, in the present borderless digital society, where tracing the identity of an infringer is another complicated process. The courts and other authorities can help in stopping the illegal use of brands online by initiating legal proceedings against unauthorized use.
As the IP infringers are nowadays all equipped with the latest smart technologies and tools, the in-house legal departments and providers or specialized services can tackle such issues and provide solutions in a professional, cost-efficient, and responsible manner.