With the growth in generic top-level domains, organizations will need to better protect their brand online from business competitors and cybercriminals.
By Jack Rosenberger
When it comes to defending her client's brands and intellectual property in cyberspace, attorney Jennifer C. Wolfe relies on BrandShield, an online brand protection company, and its arsenal of Software as a Service (SaaS) tools.
Wolfe first became aware of the Israeli-based startup because of her participation as a council member of ICANN's Generic Name Supporting Organization, which is how she met BrandShield CEO Yoav Keren, who is also an ICANN council member. As a managing partner in Wolfe, Sadler, Breen, Morasch & Colby, an intellectual property firm in Spokane, Wash., and the president of Wolfe Domain, her own digital brand advisory firm, Wolfe tried BrandShield's Brand Protection System and was impressed with its brand-monitoring performance and its use as "a strategic intelligence tool."
"The BrandShield system provides very good data points in terms of tracking a brand online and letting you know what is happening," says Wolfe. "But it also lets you see who else is popping up in the online landscape. New sites are always appearing, and they might not be infringing on your copyright, but they are possible competitors. And BrandShield lets you plug in these and other competitors and monitor their activity."
Cyberspace Keeps Growing
The enterprise's need for improved online brand protection is expected to grow considerably as the number of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) increases from 22 to approximately 1,400 during the next several years. In addition, established global organizations face a multitude of online brand-protection problems, including sites that steal customer traffic, sell counterfeit goods and register domain names in violation of company trademarks, says Wolfe.
The SaaS-based BrandShield Brand Protection System doesn't just focus on domain infringement, but uses a deep content analysis that leverages statistical data with keyword and semantic analysis to identify brand infringement and risks. The system automatically ranks sites based on the risks they pose to an organization, enabling it to concentrate its efforts on the biggest offenders, plus keep a watchful eye on emerging business threats.
For lawyers like Wolfe, the BrandShield system lets them enforce compliance through a template of cease-and-desist letters, infringement reporting and registration forms.
"Nike and Coke might have their brands locked down, but the biggest companies in the world can't stop each and every infringement of their name," says Wolfe. "They don't have the budget to take action against everyone. But BrandShield lets companies track and prioritize on the sites that are really infringing on a brand, and it also lets them know about sites that are low threats, but are going to become medium and high threats."
Since its official U.S. launch in February, BrandShield has won some impressive global clients, New Balance and Swisscom. Edward J. Haddad, vice president of intellectual property at New Balance, is particularly pleased with BrandShield. "I was amazed at how quickly BrandShield was able to provide me with Websites which, based on some simple inputted criteria, could be potential threats to our brand," says Haddad. "The information is valuable not only for brand protection, but can be valuable to identify other online sites selling your brand and maybe competing with your ecommerce business."
With all of the new domains becoming available, Wolfe appreciates BrandShield's multiple capabilities. "BrandShield is much more than just a monitoring tool, but truly helps brand owners analyze important data about how their competitors are using new domains, particularly in the expanding new gTLD landscape. For a consumer goods company to know that a competitor just applied for laundry.tips or frozen.pizza could be really helpful in building a digital strategy. BrandShield provides not only the defensive but the offensive intelligence to be more responsive in a changing digital landscape."
About the Author
Jack Rosenberger is the managing editor of CIO Insight. You can follow him on Twitter via @CIOInsight. To read his previous CIO Insight article, "Assessing Current and Emerging Cyber-Threats," click here.