Arun Hill: When we think of luxury brands, reputation is everything. These brands have become almost exceptionally good, creating quite unique experiences.
Prudence Maliki: Third-party registrations can really dilute brand image. Also, they can impact reputations of luxury brands, as well as potentially devaluing a brand through the sale of sub-standard and sometimes even dangerous counterfeit products.
David Marques: Just the change of a letter, a typo in the address that you place in the browser is enough to send the consumer somewhere else.
Announcer: The Ideas to Innovation podcast from Clarivate.
Joan Walker: Hello, I’m Joan Walker. Welcome to the Ideas to Innovation podcast. In this new series, we’ll be talking to the people who live and breathe the process of turning ideas into innovation, the technologies that we depend on, the medicines that we rely on, the electricity that powers our day-to-day life. They were all once ideas before becoming inventions, inventions that have changed our lives for the better. Join the conversation with experts and industry leaders to discuss innovation at its core.
Long before queues were synonymous with the launch of the latest sought after tech gadgets, queues outside luxury brand boutiques were commonplace. There is a timeless appeal to luxury brands. Consumers associate superior quality and exclusivity with luxury brands. These brands in turn command premium prices for their products.
Luxury brands are masters when it comes to the art of brand building. They have consistently excelled at inspiring happiness and evoking quality and prestige, but the digital age means luxury brands no longer have the luxury of simply relying on tried and tested approaches to brand building.
In a new report, Luxury brands: Re-calibrating Brand Strategies for A Changing World, Clarivate looks at how luxury brand owners are adapting to today’s volatile and increasingly digital environment. Clarivate leans on its brand IP and analytics, first unveiled in their inaugural Top 100 Best Protected Global Brands, to uncover new insights, insights that inform and guide brand owners as they navigate through the most challenging of times.
Joining today to talk about the new report are several subject matter experts from Clarivate. We have Arun Hill, analytics consultant, Prudence Maliki, senior manager, global industry relations, and David Marques, principle consultant, litigation products and strategy. Welcome, one and all. Welcome, Arun.
Joan: Welcome, Prudence.
Prudence: Hello. Hello.
Joan: Welcome, David.
David: Hey, Joan. Happy to be back on the podcast.
Joan: Yes. Good to have you all here today. Now, I’d love for you to you just introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about your background. If we could start with you, Arun.
Arun: Sure. Thanks, Joan. I’m Arun Hill, and I’m a analytics consultant with our Patent Services team here at Clarivate. My background is in law, but I particularly focus on how the law responds to new technologies. In my actual role, I take IP data and turn it into intelligence on behalf of our clients.
Joan: Thank you. That is very neat. Very neat, indeed. Over to you, Prudence.
Prudence: Hi, everyone. I’m Prudence Maliki, and I’m a senior of the Global Industry Relations team. Part of MarkMonitor, which is part of the wider Clarivate group. Now, I’ve worked extensively with domain names and domain registrations for over a decade, and I’m currently focused on advocacy, policy development, and industry relations.
Joan: Thank you for that, Prudence. David, over to you.
David: Hi, everyone. I’m David Marques. I’m based in Lisbon, Portugal. I have a legal background. Most of my career has been spent in legal analytics, which in other words means turning court cases and litigation and all of that into actual data that can be used for decision making, be it by corporations or governments. Currently, I perform the role of product manager of the Clarivate suite of litigation products, the most notable of which is Darts-ip intellectual property and litigation database.
Joan: David, thank you for that. Let’s just dive right in, shall we? Now, I have to say maybe it is a confession. I have a soft spot for shoe brands. I really do love footwear. The ones that I find myself drawn to are Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Vivienne Westwood, even though I can’t walk in them. Today’s discussion really does entreat me.
The fact is luxury brands have honed their craft in branding, building, and storytelling. They’re masters of creating an aura of prestige, quality, and may I even add there a little bit of mystery for their brands. You want it. It really is one of those things that you save your hard earned money to really go out and treat yourself.
Tell me, Arun, how does the science of brand IP and analytics come into play here?
Arun: Sure thing. The interesting thing is that we’ve been applying analytical techniques to pattern data for years now, so much so that it has become a discipline in its own right, and patterns are now maybe seen more– It’s seen as more than something that your lawyer or your attorney would potentially look at. We also talk in terms of pattern landscapes as well, which is where we survey patenting activity in a technology area. We can determine things like who’s playing in that space and what technology trends are going on and so on.
The philosophy behind brand IP and analytics is that we bring those techniques closer to brand ecosystems in the same way that we’ve already done with patterns. In other words, we make use of trademarks of litigation data and domain data to really understand the brand landscape or brandscape as we call it.
Joan: Excellent. Thank you for that. Let’s stay on the topic of this luxury landscape or brandscape, as you said. I like that. If we can broaden it out and look at the wider landscape. The luxury experience is traditionally rooted in a physical in-store experience, going to a department store or a boutique, and it smells lovely and you’re greeted at the door, and you generally feel that somebody is glad to see you.
A macro trend that luxury brands face is digitalization. Now, in the report, digitalization is mentioned as possibly the sector’s greatest challenge and opportunity to date. Arun, I’m going to ask you again, how is that so?
Arun: Yes, I think that’s absolutely right. When we think of luxury brands, reputation is everything. If you put aside the price tag for a second, it’s fashion shows, it’s personalized shopping, it’s waiting over five years for a Birkin bag even.
Arun: [chuckles] These brands have become almost exceptionally good at creating quite unique experiences, but historically though, they relied on the fact that come rain or shine, they’ll probably get customers physically wanting to show up to their stores and to fashion shows and so on. Now the reality is that we live in a digital world, so I think there’s a bit of a tipping point. It certainly feels like it’s been expedited by the pandemic. That comes with its own set of risks, right?
As a luxury brand, how do I continue to expand my customer base, maybe, and still retain control over the brand? I think that’s really difficult. One of the most interesting findings that we actually had from the report is that computers, software, electronics, they rank in the top five in terms of filing activity for trademarks, for LVMH, just based on the class of goods and services that we’re seeing trademarks for. That’s really unusual for a luxury brand or what you typically expect.
There’s also evidence to suggest they might be considering things like blockchain as well to tackle counterfeit goods. If I can authenticate something and create a permanent record of it, it suddenly becomes a lot more difficult to maybe rip that product off. All of these are signals that seem to suggest that brands might be diversifying or even targeting Generation Z and Millennials.
Joan: Yes. Thank you for that. You’ve brought me actually to my next point there, Arun. You’ve made this point about Generation Z and Millennial consumers. These young consumers are a fast-growing audience for luxury brands. In fact, it’s estimated that this particular group of consumers will make up 50% of luxury consumption globally by 2025.
It’s an interesting one, isn’t it? You tend to think of people who can afford luxury goods, whatever they may be, are slightly older because they’ve had the years to build up the money that is disposable income. How are luxury brands responding to this without alienating those existing, let’s call them, core customers?
Arun: Yes, 50% is a lot as well.
Joan: It is [crosstalk].
Arun: It’s a very interesting point. Who luxury brands are targeting, if you think about it, it tells us a lot about who holds the most influence, perhaps from a brand perspective. I there’s a shift to Generation Z and Millennials, it may be because that demographic holds more bargaining power than we perhaps previously thought, but it is a really difficult balance to get right. How do you democratize brands, make them more accessible, but at the same time, stay loyal to your legacy customers as well?
There’s a couple of ways that we found luxury brands appear to be doing this. One of the first ones is activity related to augmented and virtual reality. That nearly doubled in 2019 alone for Louie Vuitton. We’re also seeing them prepare for things like a launch of a video game as well.
Alongside all of these efforts to increase their digital footprint, they also have several strategic acquisitions, I call them. Off-White, which is a company that’s that’s been a news a lot, it’s famously a streetwear brand. They obviously acquired that particular brand portfolio, and it’s now part of their wider company strategy. That’s a really interesting change as well.
Joan: Interesting. There is a huge diversification going on at another level that I can sit here and say I’ve never heard of them.
Joan: Yes. Arun, thanks for that. Now, I have to say that for a sector that was previously slower than others in embracing digital, luxury brands are now taking big strides forward with their digital transformation efforts. Whether it’s virtual fashion shows or using augmented and virtual reality technologies to engage with their customers, we’ve seen some surprising even unexpected digital developments from luxury brands in the last 18 months or so that is something to applaud.
However, the report highlights how digital presents a dichotomy. Digital offers huge potential for luxury brands and at the same time, certain risks. For example, I read in the report that luxury brand owners are often present in arbitrations and litigation against domain names that are acquired for high-risk activities such as deliberately diverting traffic.
Now, I acknowledged that I am probably the least technical person in this conversation, but what I’m hearing is that protecting domain names, as they are central to brand’s digital identities, is critical. Prudence, over to you. As our domain expert, what can you tell us about the biggest threat or challenges facing luxury brands from a domain perspective?
Prudence: Thanks, Joan. Luxury brands, like most corporations and businesses, are subjected to infringements and also significant losses through counterfeit, but they also have this additional layer of reputational damage. This can be caused through negative online experiences, third-party registrations, which I will be talking about, and also, I believe, David as well.
Third-party registrations can really dilute brand image. Also, they can impact reputations of luxury brands, as well as potentially devaluing a brand through the sale of substandard and sometimes even dangerous counterfeit products. These are genuine threats that can have significant impact to luxury brands.
Now, with regards to these domain names, these can be carried out in a myriad of ways. It’s not just having a domain name that contains a luxury brand. What we’re seeing in the landscape at the moment is typosquatting, which is where domain names mimic brands, but are slightly misspelt, that’s slightly different to what the brand actually looks like [inaudible 00:14:43] [crosstalk].
Joan: What did you call that, Prudence?
Prudence: That’s typosquatting. It’s the typo of a traditional brand…
Joan: Right. Typosquatting.
Prudence: This has been a tried and tested technique that’s been around for a little while. In addition to typosquatting, we have something known as a homoglyph. This is something that’s especially been hot lately, with regards to infringement. This is where a brand will be reproduced, but certain characters of the brand will be written with non-Latin script characters. It’s almost looking identical to the brand, but it’s not quite, so it’s fairly similar. These are really big threats to brand holders and luxury brands at the moment, primarily because these domains, these are vehicles for counterfeit online shops which can cause significant problems.
Joan: Yes, I can imagine. Presumably, in your team, you have people who can spot the typosquatting and the homoglyphs at 40 paces?
Prudence: Yes. Part of the thing that we do with MarkMonitor is we have a consultative approach. This is where we work with our clients to make sure that we are identifying these types of infringements and bringing them to their attention, and letting our clients make informed decisions as to how they handle these types of infringement.
Joan: My next question, Prudence, what should luxury brands consider when they’re launching brands and products in the domain namespace, so that they can at least assure themselves that they’ve done everything to not be typosquatted?
Prudence: A new brand or product launch, it should be such an exciting time for a luxury brand. The structure of this launch will really have an effect on the overall success of this brand.
In my opinion, a successful brand launch really is down to a mixture of offence and defence. Now, with offence, yes, with offence it’s looking at the main registrations that you know what the content is, you’ve worked with your marketing team, you know the SEO, you know how it’s going to look, you know what the website content’s going to be. However, having the other side, the defensive registration– These are registrations where you may not have an intended use. These domains are purely just to protect your brand name in a specific TLD or extension or domain sphere.
With new brands, and with new products, it’s really making sure that you’re looking at your trademark portfolio. Now, this is something to consider as well. If you’re not sure how to start with a brand or the product, the trademark portfolio is a really good starting step, because your domain name portfolio should mirror your trademark portfolio.
If the brand or the product, you’ve got a trademark portfolio that’s really exotic. You’ve got Singapore and Thailand, you’ve got Australia, you’ve got China, you should have domain registrations in each of those geographical regions as well. It matches up and it ties together. That’s something to really consider when you’re doing your launch.
Another thing as well is not to keep it down to ccTLDs or country codes and gTLDs such as .coms and .net. Make sure you have a really healthy mix of your countries, so your country extensions, but also your gTLDs, but then make sure you factor in new gTLDs as well. We’ve had a whole influx of new extensions such as .shop or .online or .app or .store, to make sure when you do your launch, that you’ve factored these in as well into your registration strategy, which will be really good.
I guess an additional consideration as well, Joan, would be thinking outside of the registrations. One of the key critical areas I think would be blocks, locks, and SSLs. I will explain a little bit more. [laughs]
Joan: Yes, please do. I was expecting a third rhyme there, blocks, locks, and I was thinking, “What’s coming next?”
Prudence: [laughs] Well, SSLs, that’s the next thing. With domains that you’ve managed to already secure and register, it would be really advisable to make sure that they’re locked at registry level where possible. This will make sure that your domains are super secure and protected.
Then also as well, another thing to factor in is a really fantastic alternative to group registrations or bulk registration is a block. This is a singular mechanism that will cover multiple groups of extensions and block them all in one go. That will save you from having to make individual registrations across a number of different extensions or TLDs. It can be really cost-effective as well if budget is something that’s a consideration during your launch.
I think my final thing that I’d throw into the mix here is making sure that you are aligned with a registrar that has a consultative approach. As you can tell from what I’ve been talking about here, these brand launches for just registrations, the main registrations alone, there were a lot of different factors to take into consideration and a lot of things to think about.
You may not have the answers to all of these questions, and that’s why who you work with really makes a pivotal difference because they can help guide you through the process and make it less painful. They can also provide help along the way, which I think will make such a really big difference to having a successful launch.
Joan: Prudence, thank you for that. That is such fantastic practical advice. I’ve started taking notes and I don’t even have my own brand to launch, but it makes me want to launch my own brand. [laughs] Thank you so much for that.
Now, David, over to you. Are there any lessons from the litigation and arbitration landscape that may help contextualize Prudence’s advice for luxury brands?
David: Well, I would consider the litigation and the arbitration data, so to say, as a history of mistakes. A company usually just goes to court or just files an expensive action when they obviously failed to prevent something with some easy action. I think that’s why Prudence just now was talking about having offensive and defensive strategy. Be sure to be proactive in order to avoid costs and expenses in the long run, and potentially some damage to the reputation of your brand.
Digital does present itself a unique set of risks. Just what Prudence was talking about, the typosquatting. Just the change of a letter, a typo in the address that you place in the browser is enough to send a consumer somewhere else, right?
David: You can see that the door to your brand is online and the access to that door is through this address that we type. We go to the keyboard or to your cell phone, and if you get it wrong, then you go somewhere else. This is where third parties can take advantage of, let’s say, a less proactive approach on luxury brands sometimes.
What we see from the records of litigation, from the records of arbitrations, where luxury brands are involved and they are plaintiffs and they are trying to do something, is they’re trying to fix a mistake. They’re trying to fix something that was registered, and that potentially corresponds to a high-risk activity like you were mentioning before, Joan. It can go for something as light as just diverting traffic to somewhere else, but it can also be an attempt at phishing your personal details, right?
David: It can be an opportunity for identity theft. It can be an opportunity for email fraud. It can be an opportunity for linking to all your websites, be it gambling or something else. These are all situations which we see historically, these luxury brands trying to fight and ward off against. As we were saying, it can take something as low as a typo, but there many other patterns that we see from the activities in arbitration courts and judicial courts in litigation.
For instance, we see that these domains, these addresses that we write to access the websites, very often, these third parties which are to trying to take advantage of the reputation of luxury brands, they will do something a bit like Prudence already mentioned. They will add a word to perhaps your brand. They will add something like store or shop or online, or perhaps they will even try to add, let’s say, the name of a country so it looks official like the official website of that luxury brand for that country.
We see very high number of disputes, for instance, for Japan or for UK. There is a lot of interest in trying to repress third parties from taking advantage of these brands so that you can understand it’ll be an address which will say something like luxury brands, Japan store.
David: The consumer will think, “Okay, this is the official website for my country. I’ll just enter it. I’ll shop something,” and perhaps you get a nasty surprise at the end.
Joan: Gosh, it’s a minefield, isn’t it?
David: Indeed. Luxury brands, to maintain their reputation, to maintain that halo that they have of exclusivity, they also need to be proactive in a certain way, protecting their consumers. Right?
David: Avoiding that they fall into these traps. It’s not just for, let’s say, the world’s next domain. We also have the extensions or the top-level domains, like Prudence was saying. We see a lot of activity also in specific domains, which perhaps don’t come to the top of someone’s mind. We see a lot of domains that have .net as the top-level domain, or .Asia, .shop, .store. .dot store, imagine you see your favorite brand and then .store. It rings some bells. Perhaps you should be cautious. It’s not that common, but at the same time, it looks good. Some people will perhaps think perhaps they just chose to have this unique domain.
Joan: Sure. It’s not as blatant as saying, I don’t know, say Chanel.scam. Do you know what I mean?
Joan: They [unintelligible 00:26:49] [laughs]
David: Exactly. It’s not like it’s written, “You’ll get scam here. Please click here to get scam.” It’s not like that [crosstalk].
Joan: Exactly. Yes. [laughs]
David: All of that results in these situations that need to be avoided. Right?
David: Of course, these conclusions reflect the brands that were not able to prevent that proactively. If you follow, as Prudence was saying, an offensive and defensive strategy, ultimately you will be able to at least ward off most of at least the most common issues that may arise.
Joan: Yes. It’s like suddenly you’re shopping, you think, “Oh my goodness, I’ve got to do due diligence before I purchase anything.” It suddenly becomes a very different landscape, doesn’t it?
David: Exactly. We see sometimes things like that in the news or perhaps some of us know someone that bought something that they thought was, let’s say, the real thing, and then it ends up that it wasn’t. There’s all kinds of stories going around, right?
Joan: Absolutely. David, thank you for that. Thank you for your insight there. Now, Arun, circling back to you, another trend that the report looks at is luxury brands’ pivot to Asia, particularly mainland China. Could you tell us a little bit more about the trends in this region and their impact on luxury brands?
Arun: Sure. I think there’s sometimes a bit of a misconception maybe that brands that are born in Europe or that we associate with Europe only tend to focus on that European market, but really that’s maybe how they face the market and their origins. One of the things that we noted in our research is that now Asia is surpassing Europe and Americas in terms of luxury brand sales. That’s huge.
Like I say, really, this is the separation between brand positioning on the one hand and the market or brand protection itself. What our trademark research data had shown is that mainland China is the fastest-growing jurisdiction, just in terms of the volume of trademarks that are registered, and that there might also be some smaller pockets of growth as well. Taiwan was one, Thailand, [unintelligible 00:29:14].
Joan: Thank you for that.
David: If I might also add to Arun’s remarks.
Joan: Absolutely, David.
David: The litigation data also shows a very, very similar story to what’s happening in the trademark failing data. We see the number of cases filed in Asia, constantly rising, even outstripping Europe and the US as the centres of litigation. Just to give you an idea, Europe currently represents, I think it’s 22% of all luxury brand litigation, while Asia is 41%.
David: Nearly double.
Joan: Yes, nearly double.
David: This is a massive change in paradigm from let’s say 30 years ago or 20 years ago. It really shows that there is this shift that may have many reasons behind it going from Europe to Asia or from US to Asia. This actually lines up perfectly with another report that we published back I think it was in January. That one was focused on design litigation. Luxury brands heavily rely on design as well. It was showing that indeed Asia was growing while US and Europe were stagnating in terms of litigation.
Just so our listeners can understand it, but the fact that there is less litigation or more litigation, usually the more filings, the more litigation. It’s a normal reaction in the IP ecosystem. It’s healthy. What I’m trying to say to the listeners, don’t think litigation is inherently bad. It’s a good indicator. It’s a good indicator of interest in the market.
As I was saying, there is this shift. The reasons may not be just related to the market share or to the value of a specific market. There are other indicators such as let’s say the legal framework for enforcement. We have seen many improvements in the enforcement frameworks in Asia, and that of course creates confidence in the luxury brands to litigate more there. Therefore, we also see some increase in litigation because of that.
Perhaps counterintuitively, it may also represent an improvement in Europe and the US because if in Europe and the US you have more effective mechanisms to prevent the entry of counterfeit goods, then you will have less cases in court, then you’ll have less infringement actions being filed.
Likewise, there is also the question of the registration of trademarks that take advantage of luxury brands. We also see here a shift in terms of oppositions. When I say oppositions, I mean objections to the registration by third parties of trademarks or brands that take advantage of your own luxury brand.
We see there is growth again in Asia and that Europe and the US are not so ahead. There, it may be also due to the fact that again, there may be some effective systems in Europe and the US. Perhaps more in Europe and perhaps even in Latin America, where certain trademark offices will by their own accord refuse trademark applications that are blatantly trying to take advantage from an existing luxury brand.
We usually call this ex officio refusals. Meaning that the trademark office by its own volition, you cannot register this. You’re really trying to take advantage of an existing brand? Usually with luxury brands, it’s really to detect because luxury brands are more known and you can more easily detect them and the examiner at the office will refuse. Of course, it really depends on the examiner.
I examined some trademarks in my time as well, and to be honest, I don’t know that many luxury brands. [laughs] Like when we were discussing shoe brands before, and I couldn’t recognize any of your favourite ones, Joan. Apologies for that. [laughs]
Joan: David, you need to go shopping. [laughs]
David: Indeed. Perhaps not for shoes, but for something else.
Joan: Well, have a little hunt. Thank you for that. Now, Prudence, if I might come to you, what’s your take from a domain perspective?
Prudence: It’s such a really fascinating question, Joan. China is such an important market and area of growth, especially for luxury brands. I think Arun was to touching on that, about how much expansion and growth we’ve seen in that sector and in that market. At this moment in time, when it comes to domain names, in China, we have the primary extension or TLD .cn followed with .com.cn, which are incredibly, hugely popular amongst registrants all over the globe.
Now, the thing of China, it’s a little bit different. I know obviously David’s been talking a lot about litigation. With the main disputes, China has a framework to handle domain disputes, which is great. If there is a third party that’s registered, a domain name that contains your intellectual property or trademark, you can have a recourse to use a domain dispute avenue, which is great. However, unlike other domain dispute providers in China, if you are going to file a dispute you have a time limit. This sets it apart from other TLDs from anywhere else.
From 2019, so this is relatively new, there’s a three-year time [inaudible 00:35:34]. What that means, Joan, if the domain name that’s in dispute, if it has any more than a three-year registration term, it means that you cannot file a domain dispute against it. That means yes, and again, this is something that’s unique onto .cn. It also means that from a brand protection perspective, you have to be fast. You have to be on the ball and reacting very quickly when you see these disputes rise.
As a result, what that also means is that it’s safer to ensure that you’ve just registered your domain so no one else has them, and to save yourself having that pressure of being so reactive and responsive.
One of the things that the data and our research has shown, which is a good thing, is that the vast majority of the luxury plans that we researched for our report, now, they all have managed to cover their bases with regards to China. They’ve registered their .com.cn and their .cn domain names. We’re looking at Burberry and Chanel and Cartier. They’ve all got it covered, which is a really great action or course of action.
However, what we have also determined is that there’s a small contingent of brands that manage to get one and not the other. What we’ve seen and what the trend is, is that some luxury brands have the .cn but the .com.cn is owned by a third party.
This is just highlighting the importance of making sure that when you are doing that brand launch, when you’re considering that strategy, that you make sure that you cover all your bases. If you’re not sure what those bases are, making sure that you are aligned with someone that can help you do that, especially in regions such as China where you do need to be prepared and organized just in case.
Joan: Absolutely. Prudence, thank you. It really is such attention to detail, dotting i’s and crossing t’s, isn’t it? It really, is– It feels like where do you begin to start and finish?
Prudence: Yes, there’s a lot to think about.
David: It can feel a little bit daunting, which is why it’s really important to make sure that you have a good team behind you.
Joan: Yes. Thank you for that, Prudence. Now, in many ways, I feel slightly daunted by this huge amount of information, but it is an incredibly exciting time for luxury brands, new audiences, new sectors, the digital potential. It’s safe to say that there’s more to come from luxury brands. Rounding up our conversation today, a question to all three of you. What is the one piece of advice you have for luxury brands? David, can we start with you?
David: Yes, sure. Well, I don’t really know what advice I can provide to luxury brands themselves in a study which comes from watching monitoring and analyzing the activity of those same luxury brands. It would be feeding the loop. We can give some advice perhaps in the direction of those brands which are trying to achieve more exclusive status, and even some which are already considered somewhat as luxury brands, but perhaps haven’t gone or haven’t reached that specific level. What lessons can they learn from the strategies of the current luxury brands?
For those, I would just reinforce the meaning of exclusivity. In a more legal sense, it implies that third parties should not be allowed to dilute your brand. They should not be allowed to take advantage of it. They should not be allowed to profit from it. Everyone that works in this kind of space knows that. For all of this, it’s necessary to have a strategy which should be holistic in its nature. It’s not just about enforcement against counterfeits. It’s about adequately controlling the domain name space. It’s about preventing stuff that we mentioned before like traffic redirection, or someone doing a site business of selling your product for a preminium without your knowing, we’re trying to avoid this. Also avoiding trademark dilution by proactively opposing trademark registrations that may take advantage of yours, proactively monitoring what’s happening in the markets, launching in validity actions against existing trademarks that may have escaped your monitoring mechanisms.
Likewise, here we’re seeing the monitoring in your markets, but also be sure that adjacent markets or potential markets that you may want to explore in the future will also be free. We know from our study that these luxury brands are entering the gaming industry. They’re entering more digital new ways of delivering their reputation. If you don’t have appropriate protection there, or if you haven’t made sure that your reputation is also insured in those markets, then that will be negative in the long run.
Secondly– [inaudible 00:41:31] [crosstalk]
Joan: I was going to say, David, I think that is another conversation, isn’t it? That one.
Arun: There is. It is indeed. Secondly, it should be something that brands should be aware, but also their external councils. This is not just for the brands. It’s also for the councils to be aware of the situation and adequately advise their customers on the need for this holistic strategy that ensures their status of exclusivity and take lessons from what major luxury brands are doing in this sector.
Joan: David, thank you for that. Arun, over to you. What single piece of advice could you offer luxury brands?
Arun: Well, I have to say I absolutely agree with David. I think exclusivity the operative word here. In may ways, luxury brands are doing the right thing by investing in digital technologies and not resting on their laurels or dining out on the success of some of their legacy brands. Assessing digital opportunities probably must be done on a brand-by-brand basis, and thinking about the strategy for each brand. Rather than thinking of maybe the digital world and the physical world as separate, perhaps it’s better to from a brand protection point of view, to think of them as part of the same brand experience.
What we might see in future is an even bigger focus on IP assets to connect these two worlds. I think that probably goes hand in hand with a higher output in terms of trademarks and other forms of protection. That’s why I think brand intelligence and evaluating the strength of the brand is going to be really key.
Joan: For that, Arun. Prudence, finally, over to you.
Prudence: Joan, it’s so difficult to just give one piece of advice.
Prudence: [laughs] I’m going to try and give some small pieces that I think will be really helpful to the luxury sector. Following on from David’s concept of a holistic approach, taking a similar approach with your domain portfolio, I think will really put you in good stead. Not just looking at the regions of registrations and the TLDs of registrations, but taking that higher-level view and taking into account additional elements of security, blocks, locks, and monitoring, and also thinking about the wider implications.
For the domains that you’ve already secured, making sure that they have a registry lock. For those that you are wanting to protect, considering using blocking services to cover a multitude of extensions. Also as well, adding that additional layer of monitoring domain TLDs and monitoring infringements for those domains that fall outside of the scope of your standard registration policy or process.
This is the stuff that I think David was touching on earlier, domains that contain your primary brand, or your primary luxury product, and a descriptive term. Sometimes you can’t always register your brand shop or your brand online, but sometimes what you can do is monitor to make sure that no one else does. That’s something that could really be helped as well.
Monitoring’s really good for things such as typosquatting as well. Another thing to think about too is blocks are really good for homoglyphs. Where you may not be able to pick up on non-Latin script characters and domains, a block can sometimes create alternative strings that contain homoglyph characters. It’s another additional thing to help protect luxury brands.
Another thing, just one more thing, is to really take a look at your portfolio as a living, breathing thing. Consistently check in and review your portfolio, make sure it’s reflecting what’s happening with your trademark portfolio. Make sure it’s reflecting what’s happening with your business online and how your business is growing and developing as well, and make sure that you filled in any gaps and identified any gaps in your portfolio, which is really easy to do.
One final thing is future think. There will be, just like there has been a few years ago, there will be a new influx of TLDs coming in the next two to three years. The next round of new gTLDs is due to come, and it’ll be very important for luxury brands to be aware and to start thinking about which brands they want to start securing and how much they want to start engaging in this new registration process that’s due to happen in the next two to three years.
Joan: We’re thinking about future proofing there.
Joan: Thank you. All three of you, this has been an extraordinary thought-provoking conversation about luxury brands. Thank you, Arun Hill.
Arun: Thanks very much, Joan.
Joan: Thank you, Prudence Maliki.
Prudence: Thanks, Joan.
Joan: Finally, thank you, David Marques.
David: Thank you, Joan.
Joan: It’s been really interesting listening to all three of you offering extraordinary insights. I thank you.
Innovation is so often associated with inventions, but the innovation process doesn’t end there. It is equally important to successfully commercialize and create and protect brand identities for new products and services. It will be fascinating to see how luxury brands, the masters of the art of brand building, recalibrate their brand strategies and navigate today’s changing world.
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Thank you for joining us. Until next time. I’m Joan Walker. Goodbye.
Announcer: The Ideas to Innovation podcast from Clarivate.
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