Every year, just around the time the crocuses emerge from my front lawn, the World Intellectual Property Organization publishes a cybersquatting report.
Not only are the reports published at the same time each year, they all follow the same formula: stats and scary talk about “risks” and “concerns,” followed by a reminder that the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center — “the leading global provider of domain name dispute resolution services” — stands ever-ready to slay the cybersquatting beast in a convenient, cost-effective and expeditious manner.
This is what the WIPO timeline looks like:
- March 12, 2007: Cybersquatting Remains on the Rise with further Risk to Trademarks from New Registration Practices
- March 28, 2008: DNS Developments Feed Growing Cybersquatting Concerns
- March 16, 2009: Record Number of Cybersquatting Cases in 2008, WIPO Proposes Paperless UDRP
- March 23, 2010: Brands Tackle Cybersquatters in 2009, UDRP becomes Eco-Friendly
- March 31, 2011: Cybersquatting Hits Record Level, WIPO Center Rolls out New Services
- March 6, 2012: WIPO Prepares for Launch of New gTLDs while Cybersquatting Cases Continued to Rise
- March 28, 2013: WIPO Survey Reveals Concern about Costs of Technology Dispute Proceedings
- March 17, 2014: Expansion of Domain Name Space May Shift Trademark Protection Strategies
- March 19, 2015: Internet Domain Name Dispute Resolution, IP Mediation and Arbitration
- March 18, 2016: Cybersquatting Cases Up in 2015, Driven by New gTLDs
I’d say the odds are good that WIPO will announce sometime next month that, according to their statistics, cybersquatting is again on the rise. When that happens, news coverage will focus on the remarks of WIPO officials and their interpretation of the data. There won’t be much room for law firms to wedge their voice into that conversation.
Today, the London-based law firm EMW LLP jumped out in front of WIPO, publishing the firm’s own analysis of the cybersquatting situation, Record High In Legal Disputes Over Domain Names As Companies Fight Off Overseas Squatters. The analysis was sourced with statistical data freely available on WIPO’s website. The story was there for the taking. No need to wait for WIPO’s interpretation of the numbers.
EMW’s public relations crew had the presence of mind to anticipate WIPO’s inevitable cybersquatting report and put out its observations several weeks in advance. For its trouble, EMW received press coverage that it would not have enjoyed had it merely reacted to the upcoming WIPO report. EMW used its moment in the spotlight to attach itself to the cybersquatting conversation and claim the role of trademark rights defender.
I call this strategy “newsjumping,” meaning, a conscious attempt to get out in front of news events and enjoy a few moments alone in the spotlight. Smart law firms that plan ahead and look for open spaces in the routine news cycle will be able to attract attention with content that is — at least, momentarily — original and unique.