As online retail becomes more and more profitable, big companies around the world like Apple, Microsoft, and Google feel the importance of ensuring that web domains directly linked to their products are under their ownership. This year, several famous companies around the world resorted to legal means to secure web domains that they think could affect their product marketability.
An ongoing legal battle is being waged by Gucci against an unknown online retailer to take possession of guccishoponline.org domain.
Some organizations and e-commerce companies in China register online domains names related to famous brands so they can either sell counterfeit products or make money by demanding to brand owners a sieable amount in exchange for ownership of the web domain. Cybersquatters, as they are called, use this tactic in thousands of web domains they own.
The World Intellectual Property Organization, an organization acting as the final arbiter over arguments regarding ownership of web domains, said that it had decided on about 3,000 cases since the middle of 2011 up to July of 2012. According to Sweet & Maxwell, the figure is considered the highest so far since 2007. Popular brands which asked ownership for such web domains included Cartier, Dior, Burberry, Swarovski, and Armani.
Sweet & Maxwell also disclosed that Gucci has asked Wipo to give them ownership of more than 100 domains in the six cases they brought forward. Swarovski on the other hand has managed to bring about 32 cases and won all of them in 2010.
Records from Wipo itself indicates that they have a busy year ahead of them as they already recorded a decision of 1,931 cases up to this month. Last year, the organization had adjudicated about 2,700 cases.
The American Apple, has also been at the forefront in securing web domains as it fights to control iphone5.com domain name although it has not released any products of that name yet.
Experts believe that the number of disputes will further increase with the introduction of a completely new set of domains next year. Tech giant Google has already applied for over a hundred domains under its name.
Basically, disputes happen when companies find a domain squatter or a competitor using their trademark.
Even high-profile individuals can also be affected by domain squatting. In one case, Paris Hilton filed and won a case over a squatted domain that uses her name. Celebrities like Pamela Anderson, Madonna, and Wayne Rooney also buy domain name cases to protect or further their names or brands.