This week Yurong Lin, chief executive at CommonName, warns against the perils of losing your domain name to a cyber-squatter.
Promoting your business online is getting tougher all the time, and a large part of this is protecting your online presence from attack by cyber-squatters.
After you've been to the domain registry and paid to ensure your foothold in cyberspace, the challenge is to beat off the cyber-squatters. But taking the case to court can be costly and time consuming.
Cyber-squatting has proved very difficult to eliminate. The internet has grown so rapidly over the past decade that no international legal standards are in place for the acceptance of domain names.
As a result, many domains were registered by the wrong entity, with the intention of profiting from another's established brand.
This may change after the US Court of Appeals ruled in the recent sex.com case that domain registries are legally obliged to protect customers' domain names like a "plot of land".
Organisations need to be careful that they don't just buy a domain and then fail fully to use and protect it. You wouldn't buy a house and not move in, after all.
Internet keywords increasingly play an important role in driving traffic to your website. These are shortcuts, saving the hassle of having to remember long or complex web addresses.
A recent survey showed that 93 per cent of users prefer to type in a company or product name instead of a lengthy web address. Fortunately, it's actually very easy to protect your own keywords.
The important point is to use a keyword provider that will check and approve that you are legally entitled to the term or terms you want to register.
Some companies enforce strict keyword acceptance policies, preventing keywords being registered by the wrong entity. This gives you a competitive advantage and peace of mind that you are immune from any type of squatting.
Should a keyword provider not offer these guarantees, conflicts can arise. Unfortunately, many keyword providers don't enforce stringent acceptance guidelines.
This leaves the path open for cyber-squatters who deliberately mislead your valuable customers and steal your traffic.
Although establishing your brand online is becoming easier through domain names and the use of search facilities, using a registered internet keyword service enables you legally to protect your emerging cyber-assets.
This makes it easy to prove ownership, should someone else try to claim your internet keywords.
With this safeguard in place, you can ward off the cyber-squatters and safeguard your online presence. And, more importantly, ensure that your customers are interacting with you, not a rival.
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