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1 May 2024FeaturesFuture of IPBrand Safety Alliance

Domain blocking and IP protection in the modern world

Ahead of a panel session at this year’s INTA Annual Meeting moderated by the Brand Safety Alliance, industry experts and panellists share their views on domain blocking and the recently launched GlobalBlock service.

In a complex online environment with hundreds of web extensions and ever-expanding threat vectors for brand owners, domain name blocking services have emerged as a critical tool to help IP managers reduce risk, manage costs and improve brand protection efforts. At the upcoming International Trademark Association (INTA) Annual Meeting this May, the Brand Safety Alliance will moderate a panel session including colleagues from across the industry to discuss domain blocking and the recently launched GlobalBlock service—its advantages, challenges, and the role domains play in brand protection online.

We caught up with some of our panellists and others from across the industry to get their thoughts ahead of the INTA meeting.

What are some of the challenges for brand protection when it comes to domain names?

Anthony Beltran, president/CEO at We see two key challenges when working with our clients on their brand protection strategies. First, is managing costs. Many registries have steadily increased their prices in recent years. To manage this, companies are looking at their budgets, perhaps questioning long-term value, trimming their domain portfolios or rebalancing resources toward more cost-effective solutions.

Second, cybersquatting, phishing, and other nefarious activity causing harm to brands and customers in the domain name space continues to rise. Attackers are more sophisticated and bolder than ever. Brands have to be more active than ever before to stay ahead of these bad actors.

Stuart Fuller, chief commercial officer at Com Laude: Staying on top of the top-level domain (TLD) landscape, the rules, and regulations, especially with country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) in terms of registrations, but more importantly, which bad actors are infringing on key terms and trademarks.

Unless an organisation has an effective domain name monitoring tool, it is unlikely that they will be aware of all potential risks from third party relationships, which could be damaging revenues and reputations.

Most IP departments or domain name managers are charged with reducing the spend on domains. Using a blocking service does allow for an organisation to reduce its portfolios, right-sizing them. Knowing which domains to remove, or which to actively use is also a challenge which is why getting insights into existing portfolios is key.

Phil Lodico, head of GoDaddy Corporate Domains: Domain names continue to be one of the cheapest and easiest ways for bad actors to trick consumers online. With a simple domain registration that is similar to a brand or company name, consumers have been tricked into buying counterfeit goods, sharing personal information, and sometimes worse.

Because of the low cost of domains, coupled with the extensive list of possible options to the left and the right of the dot, brand owners have a difficult job protecting their consumers.

Whether it is within the .com space, or a country-code domain extension or a newer TLD such as .shop, brand owners today are forced to navigate their own business needs with a myriad of prices, policies, terms, and protection mechanisms across these TLDs to protect their trademarks.

What trends or changes have you seen in this area over the last one to five years?

Fuller: A rise in malicious registrations using mixed scripts, or homoglyphs is a worrying trend. Our brains do not always interpret what is written in front of us the right way, a process called typoglycemia, which the bad actors take advantage of. We are also seeing more and more ccTLDs ‘liberalise’ as they see the opportunity to take their own country codes to the wider world.

Gavin Mills, global sales director at Safenames: The biggest changes have been in AI and blockchain. Traditional brand protection policies will need to be updated to incorporate these new blockchain domains/TLDs. AI can increase the effectiveness in brand protection tools allowing brands to detect and respond to threats more quickly.

Stu Homan, head of Markmonitor: The domain landscape has continued to expand, making it more challenging for brand owners to protect their domains and brands online. A steady amount of new gTLDs have continued to launch in the last five years, with more expected in 2026 or later when the next ICANN round launches.

Web3 domains are also a new evolving area for brand holders to monitor. With the lack of Rights Protection Mechanisms in the Web3 space, brand owners can find it challenging to navigate this changing frontier from a brand protection standpoint.

What advantages or disadvantages do you see in domain blocking for brand protection?

Beltran: The Donuts DPML blocking service introduced in late 2013 saw a lot of success because for the first time it gave brands access to a tool to defensively block a large number of brand-related domain names for a fraction of the traditional cost. GlobalBlock has taken this concept a step further, expanding across many domain registries blocking generic and country code domains alike.

Domain blocking is attractive because it can easily become a key part of a cost-effective brand protection strategy, and in the case of GlobalBlock, will grow its protection, and therefore effectiveness for brands, over time.

Michael Flemming, regional director at GMO Brand Security: Domain blocking offers a cost-effective strategy for safeguarding brands, preventing potential infringements before they occur. However, an over-reliance on domain blocking might cause brands to neglect other essential protective measures, such as active monitoring and legal enforcement.

Lodico: Domain blocking is a powerful tool for brand protection. With a portion of enterprise domain portfolios being registered primarily for brand protection purposes (as opposed to targeted brand promotion), domain blocking historically has been a simple and cost-effective way to make sure you are protecting your exact match domain where possible. Domain blocking is one piece of the brand protection puzzle, though.

Bad actors will always find a way to cause problems, but the goal is to try to get ahead of the examples that could be most egregious, and those are often exact matches or combo-domains, and blocking does a good job at handling that.

How can GlobalBlock help overcome these challenges for online brand protection?

Flemming: GlobalBlock addresses the challenges posed by the vast array of new domain extensions by providing a centralised, one-stop solution for domain blocking. This service simplifies the protection process, offering comprehensive coverage of hundreds of TLDs, thereby equipping brands with robust tools to combat brand abuse effectively.

Homan: GlobalBlock has done a great job of making progress on the idea of a unified blocking service, which gives our clients the opportunity to protect their trademarks or brands easily and more economically across multiple disparate domain registry back-ends.

Additionally, the reporting features, including the homoglyph confusable character blocking, enables our clients to make more informed decisions and to identify potential gaps in their brand protection strategy.

Where would you like to see GlobalBlock evolve next?

Beltran: We would like to see GlobalBlock continue to expand its coverage in the ccTLD arena, in the larger zones and those that experience more issues for brand owners. Additional tools around variations, typos and misspellings would be great.

Flemming: As GlobalBlock continues to expand its coverage to include not only gTLDs and ccTLDs but NFT domain extensions, it is anticipated that more domain registries will recognise GlobalBlock as a best practice model, providing substantial support for brand owners.

Homan: Our clients would find value in data that could be provided to help gain additional insights for their portfolio. For example, data around registration requests that the blocking coverage has prevented/blocked would be useful for brand holders.

If there was a silver bullet to prevent brand impersonation and infringement in domains, what would it be?

Fuller: Stop discounting of domain names to levels where the return on investment for a bad actor is guaranteed. Domain names that are sold for $1 or less for instance simply provide a short-term boost to the registry and registrar—the industry as a whole suffers because bad actors take their business to where they can buy domains for the least amount of money.

Mills: For registries to not allow domains which infringe on trademarks to be registered in the first place. They could use AI and global databases to block every domain which includes a trademark and trademark owners would need to prove they are the TM owners by using something like a Signed Mark Data (SMD) file.

Lodico: Sadly, there’s no single magic solution since often multiple companies have rights to the same name. Brand protection is not just about the name itself but also its usage. It’s about being smart on several fronts.

A combination of strategies can significantly reduce the risks, including proactive domain registration and monitoring, leveraging services for comprehensive blocking, and collaborating with registries to consult and enforce trademarks.

Business | Domain Blocking: How it Works and Why You Should Be Using It will take place at the INTA Annual Meeting on Tuesday, May 21 at 1:45 pm–2:30 pm.

For more information on GlobalBlock, please visit

More on this story

6 March 2024   Brand Safety Alliance has launched a unified domain name blocking service to offer brands a broader method of online IP protection, explains Nicole DelleDonne of GoDaddy Corporate Domains.
26 February 2024   A greater variety of domain extensions such as .uk has increased the risks for brands online—but the Brand Safety Alliance has a solution, says product director, Ben Anderson.

More on this story

6 March 2024   Brand Safety Alliance has launched a unified domain name blocking service to offer brands a broader method of online IP protection, explains Nicole DelleDonne of GoDaddy Corporate Domains.
26 February 2024   A greater variety of domain extensions such as .uk has increased the risks for brands online—but the Brand Safety Alliance has a solution, says product director, Ben Anderson.