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Monitor that domain: protecting brands online

12-07-2016

As the number of top-level domains continues to expand, it’s becoming more challenging for brand owners to monitor for infringing use of their brands and trademarks online. Finally, there is an automated tool that can help.

In the early days of the internet it was simple. There was a limited number of generic top-level domains (gTLDs), such as .com, and country-code TLDs (ccTLDs), such as .co.uk.  If a brand owner was able to proactively register domain names for their brands, products and company names in those TLDs, as well as possible variations or misspellings, then they could be pretty confident that their customers would find their site, not that of a cybersquatter.

These days, of course, it’s not quite so easy. As the number of gTLDs has expanded, brand owners have become locked in an almost unwinnable battle against infringement. It’s no longer a viable business strategy to register domain names for every gTLD in existence, whether commercially or defensively – there are simply too many. Yet, by not registering those domain names, they are opening the door to potential infringement, brand dilution and loss of revenue.

At Novagraaf, we understand the challenge facing brand owners seeking to retain control of their trademarks and brand reputation online. That’s why we’ve developed NovaTrack, an automated web-monitoring tool that provides companies with a simple and cost-effective method of monitoring domain names for infringement activity.

Fighting back
From a brand owner’s perspective, domain names typically fall within three main categories:

  1. URLs to be registered and maintained: e.g. their company name and core brand names, and common misspellings, in core markets and gTLDs (.com, and .co.uk, etc).
  2. URLs to be monitored: e.g. domain names that fall under the above category but were not available to them for registration; domain names for less important (non-core) brand names, or in secondary markets or secondary gTLDs; less common misspellings/variations; or potentially contentious gTLDs (.xxx, etc).
  3. URLs to be retrieved and/or shut down: e.g. domain names registered by third parties and used for infringement purposes, e.g. look-alike sites, counterfeiting, typosquatting, brandjacking and other attempts to pass a website off as an official domain.

NovaTrack has been designed to help brand owners with these last two categories. It enables brand owners to quickly monitor domain names for infringement activity (without needing someone to manually log in each day to check a site), and captures the evidence they need to block and challenge those sites. 

How does it work?
NovaTrack monitors activity on a specified website for signs of suspicious activity 24 hours a day and seven days a week. This includes the following variables:

  • Does a DNS record exist?
    Confirms whether a registered domain name is in/has come into use.
  • Does a website exist?
    Indicates whether the URL auto-directs to another website or has its own content.
  • Has the length of the homepage changed?
    Alerts the brand owner if there has been any recent activity on the monitored site.
  • Does the site contain ‘suspicious’ words?
    Monitors for suspicious activity and captures evidence for retrieval procedures.
  • Have there been changes to the IP address?
    Implies a change to registrar or web server, or signals that the domain name has become available for registration.

When significant changes to these variables have been found, customers are alerted by email with a link tracking the full history of the domain name. The frequency and content of these emails can be tailored per domain, depending on its sensitivity/importance to the business. This enables a brand owner to be alerted instantly if a URL suddenly comes into use that it suspects has been registered by a counterfeiter, but to receive less regular updates for those URLs that do not fall under the same high risk category.

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Find out more

NovaTrack has been designed to complement our domain name watching service, which monitors for the registration of domain names that use specified trademarks, brand and product names, and other keywords.

You can find out more about the tool, as well as information on pricing, at www.novatrack.eu, or by downloading our flyer.

For tailored advice on developing a cost-effective domain name registration and/or monitoring strategy, contact your Novagraaf consultant.