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article imageHow to Protect Yourself Against Infringement with a WHOIS API

This article is sponsored content produced by Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP)—a data, tool, and API provider that specializes in automated threat detection, security analysis, and threat intelligence solutions for Fortune 1000 and cybersecurity companies.
Some sellers suspended from Amazon are struggling with reinstatement due to a glitch that forced them to stay offline. Third-party sellers can have their accounts suspended for several reasons, but most have to do with infringement claims, whether legitimate or not, from rivals. To get their accounts back online, they have to undergo a reinstatement process.
But with only a week left until Cyber Monday, the process is frustrating suspended sellers. When they try to contact Amazon about their accounts or a particular product listing, they are automatically redirected to appeal on the platform’s Account Health Dashboard.
Yet this method also fails, with sellers receiving another response email from Amazon, again telling the channel they used is not the right one and asking them to resubmit their requests using the very same “Account Health Dashboard.”
An unnamed Amazon representative said the email was the result of a glitch. Had it not been for that, the appeal would have certainly been settled already (depending on the veracity of the claims).
This leads us to the following set of questions:
  • How do you prove your innocence when accused of committing foul play?
  • Or on the contrary, how do you prove that someone is infringing on your intellectual property rights?
    Let us show how WHOIS API can help either way.

    Our Investigative Tools: WHOIS API and Others

    In this particular case, the suspended seller needs to prove he is not an infringer. First, he needs to be sure that he did not use a trademarked or copyrighted name for his brand. For that, he can consult a list of the existing trademarks and copyrights. Next, he can prove that his site was established before that of the complainant.
    We used a hypothetical brand Amber to demonstrate how this is possible. More specifically, the user needs to input his and the accuser’s domain names into WHOIS API and compare their ages. “Amber.com” (a randomly chosen domain), for instance, is 7,099 days old while the domain of its accuser “amber.co” (a parked domain that cybercriminals could potentially hack in a case like this) is only 3,403 days old. With that, it is easy to see that the defendant’s site was put up before that of the complainant. The defendant could also point out that “amber.co” should not even be in use because it is parked.
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    WHOIS search
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    WHOIS search
    Overall, disputes like those of the suspended sellers on Amazon can easily be resolved with the help of WHOIS data, provided, of course, that domain name holders did not use a trademarked or copyrighted brand.
    Businesses that suspect other sellers of infringement, on the other hand, can also use WHOIS API. Following the same steps, they can easily prove that they established their sites before the accused did. In addition, they can produce a report on Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP) to see if the potential infringer is involved in malicious activity.
    For this case, let us say the complainant owns a travel site in South Africa like “southafricatravel.co” (note this site isn’t registered and is used for illustration purposes only). He found a site with the same domain name, albeit with a new generic top-level domain (gTLD) using the extension “.club”. A TIP query of “southafricatravel.club” revealed that it is listed in a spam blacklist, which could be helpful in his case as it wouldn’t be the first time the registrant engages in illegitimate marketing practices.
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    WHOIS search
    Last but not least, a preventive measure that sellers may consider is setting up a brand monitor alert to be warned whenever a domain name similar to their legitimate ones has been newly registered. This doesn’t mean that the person who has registered the new domain will use it for formulating illegitimate claims on online marketplaces. However, it may be worthwhile to watch that registrant’s next moves and, if necessary, gather evidence to report him should he infringe on someone else’s intellectual property rights.
    With the growing popularity of e-commerce, sellers have to remain competitive. And one way of doing that is protecting their brands, which define their reputation as a business. Online sellers can use WHOIS API and other threat intelligence tools to prove their innocence in a similar delisting scenario or state their case against a potential infringer should they need to.
    About the author
    Jonathan Zhang is the founder and CEO of Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP)—a data, tool, and API provider that specializes in automated threat detection, security analysis, and threat intelligence solutions for Fortune 1000 and cybersecurity companies. TIP is part of the WhoisXML API Inc. family, a trusted intelligence vendor by over 50,000 clients.
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