Online Crooks Stealing Trademarks, Domain Names Can Be Thwarted

Cyberpirates don't fly the Jolly Roger when ripping off trademarks and domain names. They work in secret, but if you don't catch them early, they can scuttle your ship of commerce.

As the Internet opens the door to a global economy, your corporate identity is more vulnerable than ever before. With a proactive strategic trademark and domain name plan in place, you can remain a step ahead of would-be infringers, in the U.S. and abroad. Here are a few steps to consider.

  • Start off strong. Most countries subscribe to the theory that unusual or strong marks are afforded more protection than weak marks.

  • Register, register, register. Obtaining registrations in key countries.

  • "Spy." Monitoring the Web, registration databases, and various directories can be the most efficient and cost-effective way to protect your portfolio. Contacting a potential infringer before any serious amount of money has been spent building a product, service, or brand makes dropping a mark much easier for them."

  • Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Local representatives and distributors can be the main source of problems in international business, so register your trademarks and domains before you enter the country or select the local representative or distributor.

  • Think before you sue. While it's much cheaper to sue an infringer in other countries, avoid litigation whenever possible because the results can't be guaranteed. When you can't avoid litigation, select your counsel carefully.

Douglas Wolf is a shareholder and co-chair of the Trademark Group at Boston-based Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C., (www.wolfgreenfield.com), one of the most experienced law firms devoted to the practice of intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and related litigation.
He can be reached at 617.646-8260 or douglas.wolf@wolfgreenfield.com.