NetNames Director of Commercial Operations continues his series looking at strategies to avoid Intellectual Property abuse in the fast changing online world.
STRATEGY TWO - THE PERFECT ECONOMY STRATEGY
It is inconceivable for a brand holder to wage war on every intellectual property infringement that occurs. The right strategy for one company may be completely unsuitable for another, based on the resources they have at their disposal, their industry and their appetite for eliminating the problems. The key to a Perfect Economy Strategy is to understand which infringements you can neutralise based on the resources you have available, and which are simply unattainable unless additional resources are made available. In other words, an organization needs to pick its battles carefully, ones where the return on investment is clear to see.
One market segment that faces a constant war with infringers is the finance sector. It took years of education and market spend from some of the biggest organizations in the world to build trust in the Internet. Fifteen years ago, it was viewed by many consumers as a lawless place. Today, we will happily share personal information at the touch of a button, using apps on our smartphones. In our quest to become more engaged, we will often accept requests to become “friends” with people we barely know. We will intentionally, or more often than not unintentionally, share the most personal of details with people we have never met before. Herein lies one of the fundamental threats posed by the Internet and one of the reasons why cybercrime is showing no sign of abating.
One of the biggest threats to financial institutions today is phishing. This involves fraudsters pretending to be from a legitimate organization, such as a bank, sending misleading emails that request personal and financial details from unsuspecting people. Phishing is usually associated with spam, whereby thousands of messages are sent out in the hope that a few people will be caught and supply their financial and personal details. The reason why this type of infringement is still so popular is that it costs virtually nothing to perpetrate, yet the gains can be significant, even if the fraudster only tricks one victim.
Banks are seen as fair game by the perpetrators, who are constantly looking at ways to take advantage of their intellectual property. Unfortunately, phishing still appears to be a growing trend. According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group’s 2014 H1 Study (www.antiphishing.org), there were almost 124,000 phishing attacks in the first six months of 2014, the highest number for over five years, with Banks (25%) and e-commerce websites (32%) being the most frequently targets. Fortunately, only 1,800 of those were targeted at Australian organizations. Over 22,500 domain names had been registered in that period for the specific purpose of phishing attacks, with less than 1% of them being registered in the .au top level domain registry (fewer than 10, to be more precise).
Many organizations use domain name monitoring tools to provide valuable intelligence in combatting intellectual property abuse. Understanding where third parties are registering domain names that infringe existing IP and could be used to deceive others is a central part of a Perfect Economy Strategy. A domain name is often at the core of all online infringements. However, it should be remembered that domain names can be registered in a matter of minutes, with damaging content appearing on the Internet within hours that will not be picked up by even the most robust domain monitoring strategy for at least 24 hours. Many of the domain names registered for these attacks don’t actually match existing IP – numbers are used instead of letters to hoodwink people. Not convinced? Try seeing how long it takes for your brain to read the following:
The Perfect Economy Strategy is a starting point for any intellectual property protection. It is rarely one used in isolation, rather forming part of an overall battle plan. However, it is vitally important. Consider the hidden costs of war: time lost, political goodwill squandered, an embittered enemy bent on revenge. Sometimes it is better to wait, to undermine your enemies covertly, than to hit them straight on with everything you have in your arsenal.