x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Companies face new test on names for internet

Companies in the Middle East must protect themselves against so-called cybersquatters, laywers say.

Companies in the Middle East must protect themselves against so-called cybersquatters after the internationalisation of web domain names by the internet regulator next year, lawyers say. As a new gold rush is expected to take place after the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers board announced last week it would introduce non-Latin characters, including Arabic, to internet domain names, companies will need to be at the front of the line to ensure their trademark is not bought by someone else.

"From a company perspective, if you own a brand and you are on the internet, you've got to make sure you're the only Arabic person with that brand," said Rob Deans, a partner with the law firm Clyde & Co in Dubai. Cybersquatting or "domain squatting" are internet jargon for individuals who register words and names, including trademarks, with the intention of selling it. Cybersquatting has been curtailed as companies lodge complaints with the World Intellectual Property Organisation, but that process is often time consuming and may become backlogged with the influx of new scripts online, Mr Deans said.

"What we'll get is a significant amount of cybersquatters, which will become a bigger problem because it will be that much harder to get domain names back," he said. @Email:dgeorgecosh@thenational.ae