CADNA Hosts Brand Abuse and Internet Governance Forum

Global Brands Gather to Discuss Best Practices for Digital Marketing and Online Brand Protection

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2010 – Representatives from major brands around the world joined the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) for its Online Brand Abuse and Internet Governance Forum on June 2 in San Francisco. The forum, hosted by CADNA member Wells Fargo, covered various aspects of the online space and the benefits and challenges that they pose for brand owners.

Attendees heard from experts in digital marketing, trademark law and cybersecurity who discussed the gamut of issues surrounding the promotion and protection of brands online. The morning began with a panel discussion about strategies to combat cybersquatting and the role that U.S. legislation will play in deterring cybersquatting in the future. “Current laws, namely ACPA [The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act], don’t serve as sufficient deterrents against cybersquatters,” said Josh Bourne, CADNA President. “We need more aggressive laws that will significantly discourage bad actors from exploiting brands’ good names in this way.”

The second panel dealt with the evolution of cybercrime and new ideas on how to fight it. Panelist and FBI Supervisory Special Agent Charles Pavelites of the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) informed attendees that many victims who file complaints with the IC3 express anger toward the brand fraudulently represented, even though the brand itself was not actually responsible for the crime.

Hemanshu Nigam, founder of SSP Blue and the former Chief Security Officer of News Corporation, discussed striking a balance between marketing and protecting brands in social media. While social media provides brands with unprecedented marketing opportunities, it also poses significant risks. Because of their immense popularity, social media sites have changed the way public relations, marketing and legal professionals respond to events and communicate with consumers, particularly during crises.

The forum wrapped up with a thorough discussion of ICANN and its initiative to significantly expand the number of gTLDs. CADNA Vice President Phil Lodico gave attendees an overview of the organization, focusing on its decision-making and policy development processes. “ICANN has been captured by parties with financial interests vested in its policy outcomes, causing those policies to be heavily skewed in their favor and not in the best interest of Internet users,” said Lodico.

During the panel discussion that followed, attendees and panelists examined both the opportunities and risks that new gTLDs will pose for brands. Many attendees expressed their anxiety about being left behind after the first round of applications, as it is currently planned by ICANN, if their competitors apply for extensions. They also voiced concerns about the costs of a branded extension and defensive registrations across various gTLDs. All agreed that the entire initiative is progressing much too quickly and because of ICANN’s organizational flaws, government intervention with international participation will be needed to reach a comprehensive solution acceptable to all Internet users. “ICANN is moving very fast without taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of businesses’ brands, consumers, and even national security,” said Bourne. “Having tried to reason with ICANN, we realize that outside intervention is necessary and government support is needed sooner rather than later.”

In addition to hearing from speakers and panelists, the forum also gave attendees from a variety of industries the chance to learn from one another. As Lane Mortensen, vice president, Operational Risk Management, Wells Fargo Internet Services Group said, “Wells Fargo has been an active member of CADNA for more than two years as part of our commitment to minimizing potentially confusing information to customers online. One of the major advantages of working with a group like CADNA is the opportunity for sharing best practices among companies leading to address common online issues.”