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Effective Steps for Startups to Secure Online Identity and Brand: Expert Insights by Ankur Raheja



In this insightful interview, we engage with Mr. Ankur Raheja, an expert in intellectual property and online brand protection, to explore the critical steps that new startups must take to secure their online identity and brand presence on the internet. With a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field, Mr. Raheja sheds light on the challenges startups face in safeguarding their domain names, building trust with customers and leveraging trademark protection to defend their intellectual property. Join us as we delve into the realm of online branding and protection strategies with Mr. Ankur Raheja.

What are the key steps a new startup should take to effectively secure its online identity and brand on the internet?

Mr. Raheja: The foremost requirement for any startup is to adopt a distinctive brand name that is not identical or similar to existing trademarks. This is crucial to avoid legal complications. Startups should conduct due diligence, including trademark database searches and online searches, before adopting a name. Availability of a .com domain can indicate safety and alternative domain extensions can be considered if .com is unavailable. Trademark registration adds further security, both locally and internationally.

Can you share some common challenges that startups face in protecting their domain names and how they can mitigate these risks?

Mr. Raheja: Startups may encounter similar brands from different regions due to the global reach of the internet. For instance, a US company’s UDRP case against a domain in Asia failed due to prior usage. Responding to claims promptly is essential. While domain availability is an indicator, it’s not foolproof. A hotel adopting ‘Raffles’ faced a dispute with an established chain. Due diligence would have helped.

What measures should startups implement to ensure their online presence is secure and trustworthy for customers?

Mr. Raheja: ICANN’s gTLDs offer diverse domain extensions, but securing every keyword in each extension is impractical. Trademark holders can use UDRP for disputes. Domain Name Abuse policies can lead to domain suspensions. India’s Domain Name Abuse Policy, released in January 2023, is a resource. Startups must use these avenues to ensure security.

How can startups leverage trademark protection to safeguard their intellectual property and prevent unauthorized brand use online?

Mr. Raheja: Brand protection services can detect similar domain registrations and unauthorized sales. Legal actions, civil or criminal, are possible against violators. Seeking injunctions and damages through civil courts is an option, as seen with InfoEdge. For cybersquatting, forums like WIPO, CAC and NAF can be approached under UDRP, requiring trademark evidence. Jurisdictional challenges are addressed by these mechanisms.

In this comprehensive interview, Mr. Ankur Raheja provides valuable insights into the crucial aspects of securing online identity, protecting brands and leveraging trademark protection for startups. His expertise sheds light on navigating challenges and building a secure and trusted online presence.

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