Internet piracy comes in many guises. Some people try to use or register a domain name - the unique internet identifier that allows users to access web sites - similar to a well-known brand belonging to another.
Others download copyrighted software and artwork. Or there are those who create a spoof web site, copying some aspects of a genuine web site but adding 'amusing' or embarrassing differences. Nearly all piracy problems on the net can be tackled by good housekeeping, however.
If someone registers a domain name that is confusingly similar to your well-known brand, you need to be aware of the problem as soon as possible.
An internet monitoring service can do this. Your options may then include invoking a domain name dispute resolution policy to ensure that the name is suspended, and starting legal proceedings for trademark infringement.
You may avoid litigation by registering your key brands as domain names in key territories. Registration is done on a first come, first served, basis.
If you want to protect yourself against the downloading of your software, artwork or text, make sure that you own copyright in such works. If the work was not created in-house but commissioned, you need to secure a transfer of rights from the creator. You may then be able to obtain an injunction preventing the work from being copied and distributed. But the cheapest way of dealing with the problem is often to contact the service provider, who may shut down offending web sites to avoid being sued. The following checklist may be helpful:
- Secure appropriate trademark registrations.
- Ensure you own copyright.
- Employ an internet watching/monitoring service.
- Secure domain name registrations in key territories incorporating key brands.
- Take swift legal action to preserve your rights and mitigate any loss.