In this webinar, Markmonitor Head of Strategic Partnerships Ed Schandlbauer, and Jean-Christophe Vignes, CEO of Magnify+, discuss how domain name monitoring can help safeguard enterprise domains, trademarks, and copyright portfolios against increasing threats.

Editor’s Note: The following transcript has been edited for clarity. 

Three Reasons Why Domain Name Monitoring Is More Critical Than Ever Webinar – Full Transcript 

Today’s Presenters 0:00 

Speaking: Edward Schandlbauer 

I’m flattered to be joined by our partner today, Magnify+. I’ll introduce our guest in just a second. But what we want to spend some time on today is to highlight three reasons why domain name monitoring is more critical than ever. 

So as I mentioned, we’re lucky enough to have JC Vignes with us. JC is the CEO of Magnify+. He’s based in Paris, France, and has a much cooler accent than I do, so forgive me for that, but we’ll spend 30 minutes with you all today. And thank you for joining to walk through some highlights of some material that we present for your edification. And as always, most of this material will be available through the Markmonitor corporate website. There are a bunch of resources available there, including recordings of these webinars. 

With that, I’d like to say hello to JC. Good morning, JC. 

Jean-Christophe Vignes   0:52 

Good morning, Ed and good morning everyone. Glad to be here. 

Edward Schandlbauer   0:56 

Thanks again for joining. Today’s agenda is pretty straightforward. We’re gonna talk a little bit about the current domain name landscape. We obviously have global representation here for at least two of the continents, and so we’ll talk quickly about the current landscape. 

Many of you are obviously aware of the global TLD universe, but we’ll share a couple of statistics very quickly. Much more interestingly, we’ll then pivot over to talking about the origin story from JC, such as why he started and is leading Magnify Plus and again the background story from him. It’s always neat to hear a founder’s and entrepreneurial stories in that regard. And then what we’ll do together as a presenting team here is share 3 key reasons why we think domain name monitoring always matters and should matter, and will continue to matter going forward. And with that, I’ll move ahead here. 

So, onto the current domain name landscape. I spent eight years of my career at Verisign, so I always like to give a hat tip to their report. They are a source for what’s called a domain name industry brief and some of the graphics that you see here on this slide are lifted from their most recent report. It was published in February 2024 and it usually looks quarterly rearward, so this data is probably through the end of calendar year 2023. And then they amalgamate the data and present some findings. No surprise that .com continues to represent the majority of new registrations globally; country code top-level domains have increased by about 4% year over year.

You know, many of us in the industry a long time like JC and I, have seen some go go era where the registrations were at crazy levels. You know, just non-stop flood levels. Sometimes those things ebb and flow as the economic situation happens, but year-over-year, growth is happening nonetheless. 

And so the right-hand graph there on the graphic shows about a 2 1/2% growth year-over-year in aggregate. As we look at one more view of this, sometimes it’s interesting with all the ICANN talk ahead about the next application round, we thought it’d be interesting to focus on some of the New gTLDs. Here the New gTLDs are a percentage of the larger denominator. There about 9%, actually 8.8%, and it’s likely to grow. You know, we do get a lot of questions both JC and I as practitioners in this space about when ICANN is going to open up that next window. The last one was in 2012; obviously, not all of them have come to market by design, but again, these New gTLDs represent about 9% of the universe of top-level domains out there. 

With that, we just wanted to calibrate you all on how big this pie is that we’re grappling with. 

Let’s now pivot over to talking about why we think domain name monitoring is relevant today. So between JC and I, we’re going to talk about some features and benefits of why a monitoring service is available and useful. Obviously, everyone reads headlines about impersonation scams and phishing and fraud and brand abuse and generally malicious domains. They may have adult content or something more sinister, but whether they have offensive content or just kind of are dormant until they strike like a delayed payload of irritation, these things are serious and the headlines support that. And so today, the reason we’re having the webinar is to talk to you a little bit about  what the advantage are of a domain name monitoring program. So before we get to that, I’d like to spend a little bit of time with JC and talking about his story. JC, thank you again for joining. If you would for the audience, please talk to us about what is Magnify+. 

Jean-Christophe Vignes   4:53 

My pleasure, Ed. I really like the previous slide because it shows how diverse the threat landscape is and in a way, that’s the main reason for Magnify+ to exist. I’ve been in the domain industry and in the intellectual property space for 23 years now. As a registry person, as a registrar and as a corporate domain provider.  

So I’ve had the opportunity to see the need for protection from a variety of angles, and the reality is of course Magnify+ is not the first domain name monitoring solution. It’s not the biggest, but we believe that it’s the most flexible because it was as we say internally, created by lawyers for lawyers. We came up with the solution, my partner Bart Lieben and I, because we were not satisfied with what was out there and more importantly, we were not satisfied with the efficiency of what IP owners came up with through these other solutions as you pointed out before. The threats are diverse and numerous. And the bad guys are becoming more and more evolved, more and more clever I have to say and so you need a solution that will adapt as quickly as the bad guys do. Andt that’s Magnify+; we want to be nimble are flexible. We want to be use case agnostic. That’s very important. We don’t pretend that we know all that the end user needs, but we are here to serve those needs. And so that’s Magnify+ in a nutshell.  

Edward Schandlbauer   6:47 

I love hearing the entrepreneurial story. I I myself am a chicken, so I can’t pursue those types of things, but I always admire those that do and do it well. 

So that leads to my second question; you may have covered it with some of the words in your story, but why did you choose to pursue this path? I think you talked a little bit about, you know, an efficiency play that you’ve seen with some other tools out there. Certainly these tools have existed as long as domain name registrations have existed, and some of them are very good. Some of them are very strong, but you said you pursued this path for a couple key reasons. I think it might be important just to reiterate some of those for the audience. 

Jean-Christophe Vignes   7:20 

You know, you had you mentioned that the previous New gTLD program was 12 years ago and we all believed that it would move much more quickly than it has.  
I think the industry is in the same state overall, which is we never know what tomorrow will bring. 

And so working on Magnify+ and providing a monitoring solution to clients is for us a way to help them adapt to the evolution of the industry. We cannot stand still because, again, the bad guys don’t. It’s like whack a mole. Everywhere you go, there is a new threat. The goal of Magnify+ is to help more quickly and more efficiently, if you will. 

Edward Schandlbauer   8:11 

I would be remiss in my role as the moderator if I didn’t ask you would you do this journey again? Starting a business, being an IP practitioner, raising a child, doing all these things simultaneously is no easy task. So I have to ask, would you do it again?

Jean-Christophe Vignes   8:29 

I would do it again, in a heartbeat. It’s a very exciting space to be in. You and I know that personal brands are for the owners. It’s a way to care about what matters most to our customers. Tt’s a way to reassure and dare I say, protect the public. Those are very noble pursuits. And so being able to play a part in that is truly exciting and quite fulfilling. So yes, I would do it again. 

Edward Schandlbauer   8:59 

That’s good to hear that. I was hoping that’s the answer, but you never know, right? It depends on the day. Sometimes. 

Jean-Christophe Vignes   9:05 

Of course. 

Edward Schandlbauer   9:05 

Well, let’s get into it. We’re going to pivot forward here to reason #1, and I’ll take this one and then JC will sprinkle in some of his practitioner insights throughout. We think domain name monitoring is a vital component of a larger domain name strategy.  

A lot of folks obviously understand how to register domains, renew those domains. And obviously, Markmonitor has been in that business of doing so for corporations for 25 years. And we like to think we do it well. But the advantages here are that responsible parties can examine some things quite cheaply before you start monitoring. You can look at availability reports. You can think about how to apply rights protection mechanisms and blocking options. So again, domain name monitoring fits nicely into a sequence of things.  

First, you look out the proverbial windshield to see what names might be available. 

If you’re considering a new brand launch or divestiture of a unit or a renaming of a corporate entity, which we see happen all the time in the news, then think about how startups need a name too. So they should be thinking about how quickly can I apply some of my IP against some of these things. 

And thinking about rights protection mechanisms and blocking functions is a good second piece of that recipe card. 

And then, maybe surprisingly to some, doing some domain name monitoring is part of a larger strategy piece that could actually help you prune assets that you may not need. That might sound counterintuitive coming from a registrar, but in that sense, we want you to have the right size of your corporate portfolio. And again, looking out via monitoring helps you decide, “Hey, do we need to cover all these brands and all these places? Do we have some blocking in place that could help us, you know, not register every TLD under the sun?” No one really has the budget or the wherewithal or the time to do all that. So, looking at what’s available, looking to see how to apply rights protection mechanisms and blocking options, and then applying some domain name monitoring as part of a prudent portfolio. 

JC, did I miss anything there? 

Jean-Christophe Vignes   11:15 

No, no, you’re quite right, Ed. And to talk about domain monitoring, which I know best, it’s true that you know all those mechanisms, the TMCH and more recently GlobalBlock are great, but we see monitoring as almost a second line of defense, if you will, when you’ve enabled those services. Domain monitoring is there to see what those services could have missed. And what the bad guy would think of, but it’s not covered. As you said, it’s great tool to know the portfolio better, especially for big companies. You know, some such theories may use a different registrar then then the registrar you want. Some may not be compliant with your naming guidance, this is all the things that a good monitoring solution will find out for you, presenting your report that you can use actually in a positive way. not only to fight the bad guys but also to rationalize a bit your own portfolio. So there’s a lot to be said there for, you know, budget mastering and ensuring all the teams are in check. 

Edward Schandlbauer   12:31 

Yeah, I view it like somewhat of an insurance policy, right? We’re not underwriting business per se, but it’s something that you hope doesn’t happen to you. 

Obviously, as we see on the left-hand side, everyone has kind of a bullseye, right? It could be a new upstart in the AI world — those people are getting a lot of press and attention because of AI — and so securing some of those .ai names. You know, there’s a race kind of in that particular TLD because of the attractiveness of the larger concept of AI and its popularity. But any brand that has a reputation that they’re interested in protecting or obviously current revenue, future revenue, you know that they become that proverbial bullseye. 

And so domain name monitoring is again one piece of a larger set of pieces here that we think is prudent to install. Domain name monitoring identifies the kind of activity that’s out there. It’s not a magic being. It can’t preemptively say who’s going to register what on what day. No one can. But let’s think about what we can do next. 

And so JC, I’ll pass this one over to you and maybe you could highlight Reason #2 why domain name monitoring still does and will matter. 

Jean-Christophe Vignes   13:43 
Indeed, so the good thing about and the reason why Magnify+ was meant to be so flexible is and — as I said before — use case agnostic, is there is a variety of potential users. 

We’re fortunate enough to, through Markmonitor, work with the biggest companies in the world, but also with smaller law firms. And we discovered almost by promoting the service that there was indeed, you know, different shapes, sizes and roles of people who could benefit from the monitoring system. So first and foremost, as we mentioned, domain name portfolio administrators, making sure that your portfolio is coherent, that that the registrars are well known, that the renewal dates are noted and so on. So again, it’s something very useful as a managing tool. 

Marketing is also an unsung hero of the monitoring space because again, in these days, social media chatter is essential to a brand. And so with a monitoring solution, you can actually find out what’s been said about the brand in real time on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and all the others. So it’s a positive use of the monitoring tool. 

In the same way, it can be used for SEO. What’s out there? What’s being registered, am I losing traffic by not considering those domains as useful. Should I actually fight to get them back because they’re part of the landscape that I want my customers to go to? And more and more we see that, you know, what started as an IP play, like, I want to protect my brand — let’s now find out what cybersquatting is occurring and let’s do UDRP to get my name back — has morphed into a cybersecurity play where much more serious issues are at play.

These days, you know about a bad domain can be sent by SMS. Now just before this webinar, my wife received a text saying your parcel is delayed. Please click here to reschedule. And of course, you know, we’re in the know, so we looked at the URL on the iPhone and it looked fishy, so we knew better and not to click. 

But the point is, this is one of those things where it’s less about brand infringements but much more about that I want my parcel tomorrow, so I’m gonna give all my personal data and then the next day or the next minutes, I’m gonna be impersonated. And then the fraud will happen. So again, same tool, much different use and sometimes a much more critical use. 

Edward Schandlbauer   16:54 

Yeah, you’re right. So many people are working off their phones too. The screen is miniature for those older like myself, and you know it’s just harder to see, right? You don’t pay as much attention when you see it on that tiny screen and everyone wants to act quickly. And it could also be fictitious thing from the CEO down that says, hey, I need this quickly from you. Please send me that file, but again, it always could trigger some malicious activity, so I’m glad you touched on some of the different audience members. 

Obviously, these are the personas that manage domain name portfolios. It used to be much more concentrated, certainly within the IP legal departments, but as you’ve seen by the list on the left here, it’s a bit of who’s who within all departments: marketing, network engineering, information security. 

Everyone has a vested interest in obviously protecting their own network from outside abuse and threats, but also domains are such a critical piece of that puzzle. Now it’s just a piece of the puzzle. We get that it’s not, you know, it’s not grandstanding, but everybody needs to see that there might be something useful here. 

And just one last thing on the UDRP metric, we want to include this here just to show that with the increase of cases, you know it’s an important tool that a lot of corporates use to protect their IP and it’s a very good tool. It’s a proven tool over more than a decade of instances, and I get those filings daily. 

I like to read not just the winning cases, but I like to see the losses too. I like to read the complaint-denied cases. It’s always interesting to see who’s going after what name. There’s, you know, a few instances of reverse domain name hijacking that are found and again the complaint denied and the reverse cases are much more interesting to me. But for those of you just who might want to read more about it, the WIPO and the National Arbitration Forum give out kind of their daily results through email. So that’s the way you can go to their respective organization websites and find some daily data. It’s a little nerdy in the domain space, but that’s who we are sometimes. So forgive us for that, but let’s go on to the third and final reason that we want to highlight for today. 

Jean-Christophe Vignes   18:55 

Yeah, just briefly, you see that the UDRP filings are growing year over year and it’s great, a tried and tested tool. It was invented in the early 2000s and it works really well. But it’s also very, very important to know that while indeed cease and desist to the registrant and the registrar takedowns to hosting provider to remove a website and again UDRP are quite useful. They may not be not enough or not fast enough when phishing occurs and that’s why we constantly view Markmonitor and Magnify+ for when you need to be nimble and adapt to the extensive threats that we’re facing. 

Edward Schandlbauer   19:55 

Thank you for that. That’s a good reminder, and we want to leave you something also as Reason 3; and we’ll probably tackle this together because we both have seen, you know, anecdotally what this means. But it doesn’t always have to be and this is not an anti-IP sentiment, but it doesn’t always have to be the proverbial handcuffs or a C&D or takedown or DMCA notice, right? 

There’s a lot of other options that monitoring gives you and again for this audience, it’s not always immediately clear that these are available to you, so sometimes monitoring begets a decision. “Hey I see a name for sale.” Maybe it’s within our budget, maybe it’s wildly above our budget. But let’s think about potentially maybe doing some anonymous acquisition there. So we don’t have to call them as the big Fortune 500 company and reward them maybe for their for their misbehavior. But there’s other options to consider. 

Domain name brokerage services are one piece we want to talk about. A second piece may be a domain name wait list service. It’s been called different things over time, but you know, there are these redemption periods after maybe someone who’s squatted or ill-advised registered your name with one of your trademark brands. Sometimes they get the point, maybe through a C&D and then come expiration of that asset, you might want to get in the queue to get one of those, if you can. So domain wait list services are maybe economical ways to go get a domain that was once taken, or put a pay-per-click. JC, maybe you want to handle some of these others about continued monitoring? 

Jean-Christophe Vignes   21:32 

So yeah, monitoring for content changes is dear to my heart. It depends on the size content and on the importance of the portfolio. You know, not everyone’s appetite for risk is the same, but content monitoring is useful because you could say, “OK, this name, and I don’t want this name to fall into the wrong hands and to mislead my clients, my customers.” But at the moment, because it’s inert because it’s pay-per-click or even there’s no name servers on it then, ok – I’m gonna let it go because obviously I cannot register everything. We’ve talked about budget issues at the beginning, so monitoring ensures that you can let a sleeping dog lie. 

And when the when the sleeping dog appears to be waking because the monitoring tells you that it was inert yesterday, but today there’s a name server that’s been achieved as a mail server. Well then you know it’s time to take action because that means that the owner of the name may use it to send your customers misleading email, for example. And that’s when that’s what you want to act. So monitoring is a way to not jump the gun, but actually take action when it’s critical to do so. 

Edward Schandlbauer   22:56 

Yes, and those in the audience representing the cybersecurity realm, they know this better than anybody. The same thing happens with malware. There’s this concept I mentioned earlier, delayed payload moving from a pay-per-click to something more sinister does happen, right? 

A monitoring service may check it on Day One. I think you need to check it on Day 30, Day 60, Day 90 – periodic or programmatic checks are part and parcel to being good stewards of your portfolio. So checking for these kind of delayed irritations or delayed actions is prudent as we said. Thank you for the anecdote.  

One piece that’s near and dear to my heart that I do want to mention, again we talked about not always chasing the proverbial bad guys or squatters, but sometimes it’s a business discussion with your franchisee or your agent, right? It can be insurance. It can be real estate, it can be franchisees like a lodging company, right? They might register things in a geographic location that is outside of the licensor licensee, a kind of behavioral contract realm. And so finding these domains again does not always lead to a UDRP; it can be “Hey, business partner located in city X. Please, we love the fact that you want to have a website associated with this name that you have a license to use. But one of the rules of our licensing program is that you can’t use it in this way or we own that intellectual property.” In other words, those domains should be centralized under the license and not out at the fringes by the licensee. 

And so again, you think that doesn’t come up very often, but those types of business interactions, those types of business correspondence between a trademark owner and business partner come up more and more. So again, it doesn’t always have to be the sinister squatter or the counterfeit squatter. It could be some kind of in-between, using domain name monitoring to keep an eye on those types of things is prudent as well. 

Jean-Christophe Vignes   24:42 

That’s a very good point, Ed, and it brings me to another important aspect of monitoring: that knee reaction internally in the company might be, well you know I have people. I have my list of franchisees and we can check regularly and that’s fine. 

But what happens is monitoring solution — any monitoring solution really –complements your human element. Quite possibly your internal staff has more important and more critical things to do than to just go over the 10, 50, 100 websites that compose your franchise people every week or every month. 

What monitoring does is it brings the right data to you. Giving you time for the other tasks, but also making sure that nothing falls through the cracks. That it’s not about what you didn’t see or what you didn’t look for, so the data is brought up to you so that you can actually take action on it, and as you said, the action might be very friendly. “Mr. Franchisee, can you please respect the guidelines and put the logo on the left instead of on the right. Or to the critical path which is under CISO, and I want this content taken down immediately.” So the granularity and the flexibility I think are very important for our listeners to keep in mind. 

Edward Schandlbauer   26:03 

I like the way you capture that.  So that was the intent of today. We were very fortunate to have our partner and the CEO of Magnify+ JC on. Thank you, JC. 

I’ll just finish with this one piece here. We have a series of Domain Dynamics events coming up in London and New York in September, so we’d love for those in the audience today to download the handout in the webinar tool. As I mentioned earlier in the webinar, the Markmonitor corporate site has a lot of interesting collateral for different things obviously that we offer, including the domain name monitoring piece that we discussed today. 

We hope that you gained from this today and again, this is the first installment of many within the Markmonitor webinar series. So with that, thank you to JC and thank you to the audience for joining. We’re very lucky to have your time today and we wanna be respectful of that time. And let you go back to your your next inbox item. 

Thank you again for joining today and have a great day.  

Jean-Christophe Vignes   27:13 

Thanks, everyone. Have a great day.