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Beefing Up Trademark Monitoring with Domain Brand Monitoring Solutions

Thousands of trademark infringement cases get heard every year—some of which are more unexpected than others. For instance, let’s take a look at one that originates in the world of fiction.

Like SpongeBob himself and Patrick, the Krusty Krab has been a centerpiece in the “SpongeBob SquarePants” cartoon series and movies. For the past two decades, the iconic fictional restaurant has been used in advertising and promotional activities by its producer, ViacomCBS. So when ViacomCBS got wind that IJR Capital Investment planned to open a restaurant named “Krusty Krab,” the producer filed a trademark infringement case.

And even while a Krusty Krab trademark does not exist, the court ruled in favor of ViacomCBS because Krusty Krab has a very distinct mark. And so the court disallowed its use commercially by someone else. The court also cited the same type of protection for General Lee of the “Dukes of Hazard” and “The Daily Planet” of “Superman.”

How Trademark Monitoring Tools Like the Domain Research Suite Can Help in Similar Cases

ViacomCBS may have ears in various places, allowing it to learn about the defendant’s plan to use the Krusty Krab name for his restaurant. However, it looks like even a leading entertainment producer could still beef up its trademark monitoring by extending it to the online realm, specifically in terms of domain brand monitoring. Here’s a demonstration of how the various components of the Domain Research Suite can help:

Tool #1: WHOIS Search

First, we ran ViacomCBS’s domain on WHOIS Search to find out if it uses the organization’s owners’ name or its company name as registrant. As shown in the screenshot below, the domain’s owner is CBS Interactive Inc., located in California, U.S.A.

We ran a WHOIS Search for krustykrab[.]com to see if anyone is using it. We found that an individual named “Peter Lukic” from New Jersey indeed owns the domain.

It seems that ViacomCBS has yet to extend its trademark protection efforts for Krusty Krab to cover domain registration. As the domain’s registration will expire in September of this year, ViacomCBS can contact the current registrant before someone else with malicious or commercial intent gets hold of it.

Tool #2: Domain Monitor

ViacomCBS would also do well to set up email alerts for when changes to the krustykrab[.]com domain name registration details occur with Domain Monitor. That way, the company would know immediately when its registration expires or when it gets transferred to a different registrar.

Tool #3: Reverse WHOIS Search

Gathering more information about a domain’s owner also helps in these cases. But a web search for Peter Lukic may not be satisfactory. We got eight profiles on LinkedIn alone, and several other results for people with the same name on Facebook, Amazon, Instagram, and Medium. Mixed Art LLC (the registrant’s company), on the other hand, is categorized as a graphic design service provider, and so it may not make sense why they use the domain krustykrab[.]com.

To satisfy our curiosity, we ran a Reverse WHOIS Search on the registrant and found 237 domains under Peter Lukic and 213 domain names that had his contact email address sales@mixedart[.]com in their records.

Given the considerable number of related domains, Lukic could be a domainer. If that’s the case, then ViacomCBS can quickly try to negotiate the sale of krustykrab[.]com with him.

Tool #4: Brand Monitor

To further strengthen ViacomCBS’s trademark monitoring, it can search for all domains containing “Krusty Krab” and other such names on Brand Monitor. That way, the company can receive alerts every time a domain that may be infringing its rights gets registered, modified, or dropped.

Brand Monitor can also help companies like ViacomCBS deal with cybersquatting as it can list down common misspellings of domains. In fact, it detected 260 variants of Krusty Krab, which the producer can look into.

* * *

It’s high time that trademark owners extend their trademark monitoring activities to domain monitoring as well. Gone are the days when trademark infringement only happens in localities as the Internet has made the problem global. Anyone can register a domain name using your trademark for a few dollars, as shown in the case of krustykrab[.]com. Worse, some people could abuse your trademark to misrepresent your brand.

The components of the Domain Research Suite can make trademark and domain brand monitoring a lot easier and more well-informed since it draws from a vast database of updated WHOIS records.

By WhoisXML API, A Domain Research, Whois, DNS, and Threat Intelligence API and Data Provider

Whois API, Inc. (WhoisXML API) is a big data and API company that provides domain research & monitoring, Whois, DNS, IP, and threat intelligence API, data and tools to a variety of industries.

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