Domain names – how to protect your intellectual property without spending a fortune on lawyers

Posted by Mike Eastwood on 23 March 2016

Mike Eastwood

We’ve all been using domain names since the early eighties. Your domain name – email or website address – is an important part of your intellectual property. Buying a few extra domains can help strengthen your brand online and reduce competition.

Here’s a few techniques to protect your domain name.

Buy the singular and plural

If your name has a plural, then consider purchasing the singular form and vice versa. For example, we purchased webalites.com years before we purchased webalite.com (we waited, patiently, for several years for webalite.com to become available).

Tip: to check when a domain expires go to whois.co.nz and type in the domain name you want to know about.

Buy common misspellings

Typosquatting, cybersquatting and brandjacking all sound like stuff out of movies… but it happens, and not just to big companies.

Lego reported spending over half a million dollars on legal action against 309 site owners who were taking advantage of Lego’s brand. One celebrity took a typosquatter to court – and lost – trying to get a fan’s “gripe site” taken down.

So, is there a common misspelling of your domain name? You should know – you’re most likely to type it incorrectly.

Buy phonetic version

We spent hours – no days – creating a unique word to name out business; and even though we knew it’s a phonetic word we still registered alternate spellings to protect our name and help lost visitors.

For example, our main domain was webalite.co.nz so we registered webalight.co.nz

Buy domain names for your key products

If you have some products with a unique name you can register a domain name for that product. You don’t need to create a new website (although sometimes that’s a good strategy) you can divert your domain name to a page on your site. For example, if you buy myproductname.com you can divert it to mywebsite.com/myproductname/

Different countries

If you are trading in multiple countries your domain is going to be important. If you’re using a Kiwi domain (e.g. companyname.co.nz) in the USA then it’s going to seem a little foreign to them. Conversely a Kiwi won’t be nearly as concerned about a .com address when dealing with a Kiwi company.

So, which domain names in other countries would it be useful to buy?

A word of warning

If you purchase a domain, and let it lapse, your domain name will probably end up turning into a billboard advertising similar domain names. I’ve noticed these have been less prominent in search results but you still don’t want your name associated with a page of other (probably dodgy) domains that are for sale.

Looking forwards

As the number of domains increases, and the search engines get smarter, this should be less important over time. However, right now you can increase your intellectual property protection by making a few smart choices.

Prioritise a list of domains you want to buy to protect your intellectual property and set your budget. Remember your domain name will need to be renewed every year – it’s a recurring cost.

 

Topics: Business

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