Domain Names & Protecting Your Brand

This recent case is interesting. French fashion giant, Chanel sued a company that was selling counterfeit knock-offs of their high-end products and the judge penalized the counterfeiters in a unique way.

Ultimately, in this case someone is trying to leach onto an established brand. The folks at Chanel recognize how powerful their brand is and rightfully chose to protect it. What is very interesting is that the judge ruled that mainstream social media platforms and search engines must de-index the counterfeit sites. This is the part that I found very surprising about the case. When I asked local attorneys their opinion – they said this is a pretty bold step for a judge. What possible implications could this have for marketers? Based on this case, a judge could potentially ask someone to change their domain name because it is too close to an established brand.  Maybe next time you are coming up with a brand, focus on becoming the next Pappy’s (St. Louis reference) and not McDowell’s (Coming to America Movie Reference).

So, what does this all mean to the small business owner or VP of Marketing? It means do the right thing and build your own brand. While you may be able to beat the system for a period of time, in the end building your own brand with its own story is the only thing that will be sustainable. Trying to leverage another brand will just get you in court or out of business.

If you want to sell perfume could you appeal to someone that would like Chanel but couldn’t afford it? Sure. What emotion could you play into from a product and positioning perspective that might make someone feel better about a unique product? Could you give $1 from each sale to a cause? Would that have more impact than counterfeiting a product?

The folks leveraging the Chanel brand – instead of taking the “easy” way out when it comes to launching a website – think about how you can be different and not a rip-off product. All of that energy could have been put to good use instead of being shut down.