Ever since Internet became a key channel of contact with prospective customers for a business entity, domain Names have become an important identifier that enables this customer connect. Today, a domain name is the most important element of “Brand building”. Facebook and Twitter handles some time act as extensions of this identity in the social media space. Presently mobile Apps are also gaining importance as business tools and soon the names of mobile apps will also be considered as an important brand contributors.
If I am a corporate CEO, I understand that building a brand costs money as well as time and effort. If therefore I have built a certain value for my brand, I would like to ensure that this value reflects in my asset register and in the balance sheet. At the same time, I am aware that if for any reason, I lose this asset, then my company will lose value. I should therefore protect my “Domain Name” as an asset like any other tangible asset.
Domain Name is a peculiar kind of asset. It is intangible but has a cost and is transferable. It has a cost of acquisition when acquired from the registrar but may be transferred for a premium thereafter. Though it is an asset created out of a contract between the registrant and the registrar and backed by the system managed by ICANN, it is considered more as an “Intellectual Property” of the type of “Trade Mark” and treated as such in case of disputes.
The UDRP process or the accompanying INDRP or URS processes of dispute resolution determines how the property of domain names change hands in case of a dispute.
A CEO should normally be worried of circumstance when a brand on which he has invested money and chosen as a domain name suddenly comes under a dispute and he has to part with it. A natural thought that occurs to him at this stage is “Can I insure this domain name loss risk”?
If Domain Name is an asset, then it is logical that it should be insurable. If so, the issues to be settled are, what is the value to which a domain name is insurable?, What protective measures should a domain name owner should take before registering a domain name, after registering a domain name and when a dispute is raised? He also needs to consider What is the premium payable and what is the claim settlement process?
Presently, there does not seem to be clarity on these issues either with the corporate world or the Cyber insurance companies and we need to find out the current status of insurability of a domain name and other similar assets such as “Potential trademarkable assets”.
The India Cyber Insurance Survey 2015 is expected to throw some light on this issue. If you are a corporate manager or even an ordinary Netizen, you might have a view on this issue and you need to express it by participating in this one of a kind survey that tries to capture the perception of Cyber Insurance as a product.
If you have not so far participated in the survey, do so now.. The online survey questionnaire is available here