UK banks are being warned that they could be exposed to intellectual property infringement as third parties bid to take advantage of hundreds of new Web extensions that go live this year.
A host of domain names are set to go live over the next few months, providing an opportunity for unscrupulous types, says the Trademark Clearinghouse.
Its data shows that third parties are already seeking many domain names relating to some of Britain's most valued banking brands, including Barclays, Lloyds Bank, NatWest and HSBC. In fact, 78 per cent of these brands have already been pre-reserved under the .Web, .Online, .Shop, .Blog and .App domain names.
The scale of the potential problem is highlighted by the fact that every financial services company looked at by the Trademark Clearinghouse has already needed to take action against third parties infringing on their IP online, via Icann's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Process.
Jonathan Robinson, strategic consultant, Trademark Clearinghouse, says: "Although the new gTLD programme is set to enhance competition, innovation, and consumer choice on the Internet, our research reiterates that the only universal way businesses can proactively protect their IP is to place their brands into the Trademark Clearinghouse.
"Failing to do so means businesses may be confronted by cybersquatters trying to capitalise on the traffic and illegitimate opportunities a branded website will generate. This potentially compromises the reputation of each brand targeted."