The Internet makes it easier for businesses to get the word out about their products and services, but it also makes it easier for unscrupulous individuals all over the world to steal ideas or to damage your company’s reputation. Protecting your brand should be an important aspect of your overall business model, regardless of the size of your company. Even small to mid-sized companies can be impacted by branding issues, so make sure that you take the necessary steps to protect your intellectual property.
Consider for a moment all of the time and money that you have put into building brand awareness. If another company sees your marketing campaign and decides to steal your ideas, you should never be flattered. Instead, you should look at the large potential financial loss that the new company is inflicting upon you.
The modern world requires online protection for your brand. There are many things that you can do to secure your intellectual property, including trademarking anything that is unique enough to pass the qualifications for receiving a trademark. Once you have a trademark on your item, you will have a strong legal standpoint against anyone who attempts to make money off of any item that is extremely similar to yours.
Unfortunately, some individuals or companies are more nefarious than simply stealing an idea. It is all too common for someone to cybersquat on a domain name that should belong to a legitimate business instead. Even if you have a .com domain name in place, someone else might register the .net or the .org in an attempt to either get money from you in the future or to trick your customers into thinking that they’re doing business with you. Some people will even take it so far as to utilize a similar domain name and email address to try to gather personal data from your customers. If this happens, it can be a public relations nightmare.
The best way to avoid cybersquatting and various criminal activities is to register all similar domain names. Although this can be expensive, it is not necessary to actually host a website for each domain name, and this will greatly reduce the associated costs. You can set up each of the domain names to bounce to the right one, and this will also increase your odds of capturing a larger customer base.
In order to maintain a high level of control over your brand, you will need to take steps to keep an eye out for intellectual property theft. There are some companies that can be hired to do this for you, and you can also setup Google alerts to notify you every time a website or news article mentions a specific product or name. Keep in mind that a person who steals one of your ideas is most likely not going to use the exact same name that you do, however.
If you find someone selling your trademarked product, send him or her a cease and desist letter. Keep a copy of all correspondence in case you end up having to take legal action to get the issue resolved.