Companies normally have several types of properties needing protection in order to safeguard their interests, including intellectual property, such as copyrights and trademarks—related to their company or brand.

Intellectual property in the Philippines needs to be registered to provide protection to its rightful owners. Proper registration is crucial, especially nowadays, due to the increasing number of cybercrime cases happening not only worldwide, but locally as well and one of the most common cybercrime these days is cybersquatting.

 Cybersquatting 

 Have you ever ran a search on a particular brand and ended up in a fraudulent site? This is a case of cybersquatting or domain squatting, meaning that the domain name associated with the brand was used and registered by criminals, particularly to profit from it. Simply put, it is a domain registration that was done in bad faith. These sites are used to lure people to malware sites, pornographic sites, pay-per-click advertising sites, or even to sites that hawk counterfeit goods.

 This is bad news for businesses because it lessens traffic going to their site, which results in loss of revenue, and worse, causes damage to their reputation too. It is even more alarming to note that the number of cybersquatting cases in the Philippines continues to rise.

One such incident rocked the country in 2013 when news broke that a daily deals site, Metro Deal, owned several domain names related to rival companies that led to pornographic sites. The rival companies include CashCashPinoy, Deal Grocer, Dealdozen, and Ensogo. A representative of CashCashPinoy reported that the dodgy URLs were already affecting their site.

Cybercrime Law in the Philippines

Fortunately, after years of bills being filed in Congress by numerous lawmakers, a more comprehensive anti-cybercrime law, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 or RA 10175 has finally been enacted.

Aside from defining cybercrime, it seeks to provide for the prevention, investigation, suppression, and imposition of penalties for offenses related to the misuse, abuse, and illegal access to computers, computers and communication systems, networks, databases, as well as the information and data stored therein.

This law received a lot of praises from the business community, mostly because it provides clear and specific provisions on enforcement and implementation, guaranteeing a more stern protection for enterprises. This law is expected to safeguard the security of data and computer systems, which a lot of local industries heavily rely on. This translates to lesser incidents of piracy, fraud, and intellectual theft, which can lead to an increase in investor confidence and rapid economic growth.

How to Protect Your Website from Cybersquatting

 Now that a law is already in place, businesses must take it upon themselves to proactively take measures to protect their intellectual property.

Below is a list of steps that companies can take to protect their website from cybersquatting,

Register Your Trademark

 As your first line of defense, it is imperative to register your trademark, as this is the only way you can claim and exercise your rights as its owner—both economic and moral.

Trademark registration in the Philippines is done through the Intellectual Property Office. Registering your trademark will discourage others from using it without your express permission.

 Register Your Domain

Proper domain registration is necessary for you to claim ownership. Make sure that it is registered under your name or your company’s name and not the name of your staff or someone you hired to design your website.

Domain registration needs to be renewed every so often. So, renew it before it expires to prevent others from stealing it and forcing you to buy it back.

 Monitor Domain Registrations

 Use a monitoring service that will tip you off—in case someone registers a potential infringing domain name.

Some monitoring services can be expensive, though. If you’re on a budget, you can do your own monitoring by checking for common misspellings and other variations of your domain through Google.

 Buy Domain Variations

Consider registering common variations of your domain name to prevent others from doing it first. This should include common misspellings or other typographic errors that people might enter when typing your brand name.

Try both singular and plural versions of your domain name and even its acronym. Also, consider registering all common versions of your domain. For instance, if you have a .com, also register .net, .biz, .org and .info as well.

While it will cost you additional money, the cost will still be significantly lesser than the cost of recovering your name from a cybersquatter.

Go After Violators

If you discover a cybersquatter, you have the option to go after him because you are the rightful owner of the domain. In case you find several violators, prioritize those that cause the most damage to your brand.

According to the new law, any person guilty of cybersquatting can be penalized with imprisonment of prision mayor or a fine of at least Php 200,000, up to a maximum amount equivalent to the damage caused or both.

Because cybercrimes are becoming more and more prevalent, businesses must always be vigilant to protect themselves and their property.

Know the law and how to use it to your advantage so that you can prevent your business from being the next cybercrime victim.

Author’s bio: Danella Yaptinchay is the managing director of Full Suite, a service company providing back end support to small businesses. She is a cofounder of Co.lab, a coworking space, and of the media company Homegrown. In constant pursuit of balance and self-development, she tries to apply the practices of yoga to her daily life.

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