By Daniel Hunter

According to a new market study commissioned by NetNames there is a stark disconnect emerging between the measures that organisations take to safeguard intellectual property (IP) offline and how they protect assets online.

The findings emerged in a survey exploring the attitudes of 100 UK business executives and their views on the value of online assets. The research reveals that 92 per cent of executives have proactive processes in place to defend IP offline with the most popular measures including employing legal methods (53 per cent), registering trademarks (44 per cent), keeping new ideas secret (40 per cent) and applying for a patent (36 per cent).

In contrast, just 40 per cent of businesses have introduced systems to protect their online IP. The most popular tools used for defending online assets are domain name management services, SSL certificates and anti-piracy monitoring controls.

The research also revealed that 60 per cent of businesses have a designated executive with responsibility for protecting offline IP and nearly half of those (28 per cent) have appointed someone at board-level.

Yet, despite 96 per cent of companies admitting that guarding their online assets is important, or going to become even more important, to the success of the brand over the next year, only a fifth (21 per cent) have a board-level executive with responsibility for protecting online assets and over a third of respondents (37 per cent) admitted that no-one is responsible for defending IP on the internet.

“Online assets such as corporate colours, brand names and logos are all valuable trademarks that contribute to a company’s success and recognition in the marketplace," Gary McIlraith, Chief Executive Officer at NetNames, said.

"Any online infringement of trademarks, or false claims of association by more questionable organisations, can damage trust in a reputable brand, lead to revenue loss or have a negative impact on search rankings.

"The new face of digital crime is often unseen so today’s businesses must be forward-thinking and take precautions to ensure that trademarks are effectively protected by developing the ability to identify online violations and quickly take action to remove any infringements.”

Gary McIlraith continues to explain the importance of developing a brand protection strategy for online assets.

“Over the next year, the internet will experience a .BigBang and will effectively be reset by the introduction of top level domains (TLDS) that offer cyber-criminals new opportunities for domain-name hijacking, traffic diversion, counterfeiting and other forms of brand abuse," he said.

"Before the internet evolves further, brands must develop an effective online strategy that protects both their intellectual property and their consumers so that they can take advantage of the opportunities that TLDs offer to strengthen customer relationships and grow revenues.”

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