Perhaps one of the most beneficial off-shoots of an online world is the ability to market yourself relatively free of charge. Whether it be through blogging, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter or personal websites, the opportunities for individuals to create their own brand are seemingly endless.
But what happens when that brand, which often comprises your online identity, is compromised?
Delia Ephron is an author who relies heavily on web traffic to sell books and promote upcoming projects. When she recently noticed that her domain name was “for sale,” she was quickly forced to come to terms with the fickle nature of online branding.
A family member who had been tasked with managing her website let the renewal deadline pass and as a result, the domain name was snatched up.
“Someone else owned my name,” she said in The New York Times piece. “Someone could use it to say or show pretty much anything they wanted. I felt violated,” she said.
Ephron goes on to chronicle her experience of losing and re-gaining her domain name. She discusses the claim that she filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization essentially asserting, in her own words, “that my name was well enough known to be, in effect, a trademark.” The WIPO agreed with her and ordered that the rights to the domain name be transitioned back into her hands.
Moral of the story goes something like this: know your rights when it comes to intellectual copyright and online publishing. Be vigilant when it comes to renewing domain names and be sure to Google yourself every now and then. You might be surprised by the results.