Don’t let cybersquatters jeopardise your trademark rights
Your online brand’s trademark is one of your most valuable assets. It helps you distinguish your business from others and safeguards your reputation. But in our digital age, they are also increasingly vulnerable to predators like cybersquatters. Trademark cybersquatting occurs when a third-party registers domain names, especially with well-known company and brand names, with the intention of selling them. In essence, this allows them to profit from a registered trademark.
Recent reports show that trademark holders must become increasingly vigilant to prevent this from happening. In 2017, cybersquatting disputes related to generic top-level domains (gTLDs) increased to 12 percent of the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s case load. Country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) made up 17 percent. After the US, France filed the most cases.
TREx, an extra layer of security for trademark holders
Trademark owners now have a new way to protect their online brands. The Trademark Registry Exchange (TREx), a new service available through the Trademark Clearing House (TMCH), provides additional protection for your trademarks. The TREx service is available for TMCH-registered trademarks. Accredited agents – like EBRAND – will use this centralized service to match your trademark across various top-level domains (TLDs), currently 33 – soon to reach 40 and more expected to join them. (Including legacy TLDs and ccTLDs.)
During a TLDs general availability phase, registries will remove the availability of domain names that match your trademark so that third parties are unable to register them. In essence, this will help trademark owners block their trademark in any number of TLDs, eliminating the need for defensive registration against cybersquatters.
TREx is a simple, cost-effective approach to trademark protection as it eliminates costs incurred from both defensive registration and the renewal of those domains. You will incur no cost from TMCH to have a blocked domain overridden if at some point you decide you would like to register the domain yourself. Moreover, you will avoid the hassle of having to file a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution (UDRP) as you’ll be less likely to become a victim of trademark infringement in the first place.
But there are a few important caveats to consider:
- Domain names already registered by a third party prior to your signing up for the TREx service are, unfortunately, off limits. You will not be able to have these domains blocked. If domain names have already been registered under numerous TLDs, TREx may not be the best option for you.
- Once your TREx service is activated, it will be valid for one year and will be renewable each subsequent year. Your TMCH trademark record will need to remain valid for the duration of this period. If your trademark record expires before the end of the year, your TREx service will be cancelled.
- Variations related to your trademark are not protected under the TREx service.
How to subscribe to the TREx service
TREx is currently available to agents officially accredited by the TMCH or customers who are pre-paid trademark holders. Please contact an EBRAND Support Agent. We’ll get you started.
And keep in mind that EBRAND offers a variety of trademark protection and domain monitoring services. If TREx isn’t right for you, we’ll be happy to provide information about alternatives that are. Just remember: cybersquatters are lurking and if you don’t take action to protect your online brand’s trademark there’s a good chance it will be abused!