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Article by Haseena Sabjee (Domain Name Administrator) and Jeremy Speres (Partner) Spoor & Fisher

The phenomenal growth of the domain names’ industry in the last several years has proven to be a challenge for many companies.

Managing and maintaining a domain name portfolio has become an increasingly complex challenge. Companies are forced to make important daily decisions about where, when and how to register domain names. Unlike the trade mark system where the same trademark name can be registered in different territories by different companies, domain names are unique in that the existence of a domain name under a particular domain space prevents the concurrent registration of the domain name by another party.

It is important to secure registration of your brand in the appropriate domain spaces before nefarious third parties or “cybersquatters” do so, bearing in mind that it is far cheaper to pre-emptively secure your brand in these spaces rather than going through costly recovery processes after the fact.  For this reason, it is important to implement a comprehensive domain name management strategy.

The starting point to optimize management of your domain name portfolio is to conduct an audit. An audit is the “health-check” of your domain portfolio.  It will give you a clear indication of all the domains currently under your control, identify online infringements of your trade mark, identify potential risks and gaps in your portfolio, provide a framework to determine the most efficient way to centralize your domains and identify how to protect your business against brand abuse in the future.

Thereafter, taking into account your company’s corporate structure, market, global presence, commercial objectives, competition and perception of risk, a domain name strategy detailing the steps to effectively manage your domain portfolio should be put in place.  Your domain name management strategy should be integrated with your other Intellectual Property strategies.  We also recommend putting in place an Intellectual Property policy document for clear governance of your company’s brand protection.

As this fast paced industry continues to grow, it is essential to ensure that your company keeps abreast of the changes as well as protect its interests from potential “cybersquatters” and phishers.  Please contact us should you require assistance with domain name management, audits, strategies, registrations or complaints: [email protected] or +27 12 676 1167.