Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch packaged goods giant, is moving to protect its brands, intellectual property, domain names and trademarks by consolidating the management under one umbrella company.
The company has app-ointed law firm Baker & McKenzie to handle its global trademark portfolio. As part of the deal, NetNames, the domain name management company, will manage and protect its digital intellectual property portfolio. It will include all Web addresses used for marketing and ad campaigns across Unilever brands.
The move should help to dispel fears in the digital industry that packaged goods brands are failing to see the value of the internet. It indicates that Unilever, which owns high profile brands including Dove and Flora, is now putting digital at the core of its business strategy. Rival packaged goods companies are expected to follow with similar moves.
Katrina Burchell, head of trademarks at Unilever, says: “Our brands and trademarks are some of Unilever’s most precious assets and it’s important for us that they are in safe hands.”
NetNames chief operating officer Jonathan Robinson says large corporations such as Unilever, which control some of the most valuable global brands, now “clearly understand the importance of protecting those brands online”.
He says that unless properly managed, there is always a risk that registration of domain names can lapse, or that names registered remain unused.
Robinson says: “Companies must treat domain names as assets; they’ve done it with trademarks, but not domain names. Unilever is now adopting a holistic view of intellectual property management, looking at trademarks and domain names together under asingle umbrella of policy, procedure and practice.”
He says that by taking this approach, marketers are free to create new products and advertising campaigns with-in a comprehensive and integrated structure of IP management.