Brand protection online is an important issue facing brands these days. One aspect that gets a lot of attention is managing domain names and monitoring typosquatting. But this is only part of the problem. Monitoring websites is an even greater problem.
The cost to brands of counterfeit and pirated goods is huge. Imports of these counterfeit and pirated goods are worth nearly half a trillion dollars a year, or around 2.5 percent of global imports, with US, Italian and French brands the hardest hit and many of the proceeds going to organised crime, says a new report by the OECD and the EU’s Intellectual Property Office.
According to the report, “Trade in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Mapping the Economic Impact” the value of imported fake goods worldwide was US$461 billion in 2013, compared with total imports in world trade of $17.9 trillion. Up to five percent of goods imported into the European Union are fakes. Most originate in middle income or emerging countries, with China the top producer.
Fake products crop up in everything from handbags and perfumes to machine parts and chemicals notes the OECD. Footwear is the most-copied item though trademarks are infringed even on strawberries and bananas. Counterfeiting also produces knockoffs that endanger lives – auto parts that fail, pharmaceuticals that make people sick, toys that harm children, baby formula that provides no nourishment and medical instruments that deliver false readings.
One company that believes it can assist brand owners deal with brand protection online is BrandShield. BrandShield was spun-off from the Israeli Domain the Net registrar, which founder and now CEO of BrandShield Yoav Keren told this writer was the largest Israeli registrar serving many companies including Nasdaq, New York and Israeli stock exchange companies. The company is also an example of how governments can assist technology start-ups having received assistance through a technology assistance fund.
BrandShield has been independent of Domain the Net since it was established in 2013 and has partnered with FairWinds Partners, while Keren has been involved in new gTLDs since 2000. He was one of those pushing for a Hebrew internationalised domain name. The new gTLD programme was the catalyst for Keren to start BrandShield, sensing that there was no company offering adequate brand protection in the new environment.
Now with the launch of hundreds of new gTLDs and hundreds more to come, the problems of trademark infringement, fraud, brand protection, stealing traffic and users, redirections to competitors and slander are all “growth” industries. And protective registration of domain names in new gTLDs is simply not the answer to dealing with the problem.
So the problem Keren explained has moved way beyond the actual domain name registered.
“Who cares if someone registered your brand domain name last week,” Keren asked rhetorically. “There are pages and pages of content that relate to your brand with more traffic, better SEO and are more damaging.
“The problem can effect brands of all sizes. And while large brands have the resources to monitor how their brands are represented online, small- to medium-sized brands have never been able to do so effectively. And even large brands would find it more effective, financially and through their ability to monitor, to outsource.
Keren likens BrandShield from moving from the bicycle era to spaceship. “The big difference is BrandShield’s ability to use artificial intelligence to analyse multiple web metrics, including content.”
Brandshield uses what Keren describes as “natural language processing (NLP), which is similar to technologies used by search engines. But BrandShield analyses from a brand perspective – analysing the code, content, search engine results, logo recognition and more – all the metrics used for analysis.
“And it goes beyond websites and domain names monitoring mobile apps, paid advertisements on search-engines, marketplaces such as eBay and Ali-Baba and social media. Each has different problem. Using multiple metrics and big-data, the algorithms prioritise the level of risk and allow the users to focus on the problems that really matter.
The software can be used to assist with takedowns of infrinfments. And businesses from consulting companies, law firms acting on behalf of their clients or in-house can all use it, while smaller companies can even monitor brand abuse themselves.
It even covers the Chinese and Japanese languages with additional languages coming in addition to already covering all Latin languages. And it covers all ccTLDs and gTLDs.
Subscriptions are sold on a yearly and per brand basis.
For more information, see brandshield.com.