What is the point of building up a brand, spending money on advertising and promotion, only to find that your name/product is being ripped off in another part of the world, or on your own doorstep?
Perhaps only 5 years ago such issues were the concern of large corporations only. The proliferation of the Internet has changed this, and all companies, no matter what their size, should be aware of the issues involved with their own brands.
The most important change that has taken place is the supposed globalisation of markets. Where once only those in your immediate locality would have heard of you, now with most reasonable businesses having at least a web presence, it is far easier for companies to become known and to publicise their services far and wide.
Whilst this is obviously a good thing from the point of view of sales, such exposure only goes to leave the unsuspecting vendor from attack on other fronts. Having built up a good name, it is now incredibly easy for someone to pass off as another, or to register your name in another jurisdiction and begin trading, perhaps in a manner not in keeping with your firm's image.
Ways in which firms suffer
Logo/trademark infringement - It is now the easiest thing for any web user to make a copy of your firm's logo and download it on to their own desktop. Having done this, they can just as quickly doctor that logo and use it for their own purposes either on a web site or through another medium.
The effects on the firm are numerous. Firstly, there is the chance that another organisation can pass off as you with relative ease. Secondly, any misuse of the logo by another can result in the dilution of the brand. The third result is lost revenue through a combination of the above factors.
Domain abuse - Any company with a reputation in a field or with a recognised market share are liable to fall prey to others registering a desirable domain. Whilst previously firms might only have concerned themselves with trademark registration, now they have to own a domain name in order to identify their goods/services over the Internet. The problem with this is that not many firms have recognised the need to protect their Internet presence any further than their immediate locality.
This may seem strange when one considers the global nature of the Internet. In fact, many small companies have now found themselves to be a global supplier of goods, yet still do not have a local domain for countries they supply. This...