Web Browsers and Why They Matter to Trademark Practitioners

by Steve Anderson on December 5, 2012

Would you want your medical doctor to use outdated equipment and technology to manage your health? Of course not! Legal professionals should think the same way about their clients and use the best possible tools and technology available for rendering legal services.

If you’re a trademark practitioner or brand owner, you should be concerned about the browser version both you and your clients are using. From a trademark perspective, you need to see what the rest of the world is seeing when it comes to viewing the web. If you’re using an old browser, some of the graphic elements on websites that you view, like logos and taglines, may not be displaying properly – or at all. You also may not be able to enjoy the most current functionality provided by websites using newer technologies. These include advanced workflow and data tools that your competitors and clients may be using to the fullest extent. You don’t want to fall behind the pack!

Sadly, the web browser can be one of the most neglected applications in a trademark practitioner’s arsenal. The continued use of old, outdated browsers by computer users and corporate IT departments present a major roadblock for the application of modern web technologies, such as HTML5 and CSS3.

From the user’s perspective, updating your browser makes sense on a number of levels, with cyber-security being one of the primary reasons. Up-to-date browsers are less vulnerable to viruses, spyware, malware, and a whole host of other security concerns. However, many IT departments in both small and large companies struggle with the idea of upgrading browsers, particularly if the company is using other outdated software that relies on these older browsers. Other times, browser upgrades may wait to be bundled with the next hardware upgrade. The end result is that users are often stuck with outdated browsers, despite the fact that scouring the web may be a critical part of their organization’s trademark and brand protection strategy.

A study by the Online Trust Alliance (OTA), “Why Your Browser Matters” points out that more than 40% of Internet users worldwide are using outdated browsers. The OTA is working with major brands to equip web sites “to engage and educate their site visitors on the importance of upgrading their browser.” The organization has created a framework for leading consumer websites to create “teachable moments” for website visitors to raise awareness about the security, privacy, and performance risks associated with using outdated browsers.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer once was the most commonly used Internet browser. That’s not the case any more. Several other web browser brands have shown significant gains in popularity, including Google Chrome, which took over first place as the world’s most popular browser earlier this year. Explorer has maintained its lead position in the U.S., with 37% of the market, followed by Chrome in second place with 23%, and then Mozilla Firefox at 22% market share.

Other players in the market include Apple’s Safari, popular among iPhone and iPad users, and Opera, which has been around since the mid-90s and was the very first web browser for mobile phones.

In the end, the burden may fall on trademark practitioners to champion the need for a more modern web browser. The areas of trademark clearance and monitoring require the use of modern web browsing and web-based tools. Don’t let your organization wait until something adverse happens. Convince your IT department that your organization needs these tools to provide the best possible service to your company and clients.

Which web browser do you use most frequently? Tell us why you like it.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

JT January 14, 2013 at 10:43 am

What those studies always fail to show is WHY people are using outdated browsers. In the corporate environment, especially one where we have to deal with dozens of outside vendors, maintaining compatibility with their products is a necessity. More often than not, that means running an older browser because one or more vendors products don’t work at all or properly under the newer browser.

While it would be nice to just upgrade our users to the latest browsers, doing so is still a very long process where we have to test out all our vendor sites and plugins to make sure they work.

As a result, when sites like this decide to arbitrarily make their sites ‘incompatible’ with older browsers just to try and get people to upgrade, it does nothing but create problems for users and the IT departments that have to support them. Honestly it’s not your place to try and force people to upgrade.

SA January 16, 2013 at 3:54 pm

JT,

Thank you for your comments.  We know it’s not always easy to upgrade a browser. In cases where a trademark practitioner still uses software applications that require an outdated browser, we recommend (where feasible) a dual browser installation that includes one modern browser by a different maker.

Steve Anderson
Product Manager, Corsearch.com

JG January 21, 2013 at 5:09 pm

I agree with JT. It’s impossible for someone within a corp. environment to tell their IT group to allow users to install new browsers when earlier software functions only with older or particular browsers. I’m one that believes service providers should adapt to the client, not the client to the provider.

We know each browser comes with its own set of security risks. It stands to reason that the more browsers a company allows, the greater the exposure to various security risks. For example, I’ve counted over a dozen security risks that Google has had to address within recent versions of Chrome. It’s also my understanding that Apple released a security update for users of older Safari versions on different platforms but failed to do so for those with newer Safari versions.

To complicate matters, attorneys should really look at terms of service and privacy information that each browser provider adheres to and we should encourage clients to do the same. Default privacy settings may not provide adequate protection. For example, Chrome allows users to change privacy options, but I wonder how many users know and/or understand how to maximize options to minimize risk.

Finally, I’d encourage clients to be wary of jumping on any browser bandwagon just because many deem a relative newcomer to be the latest and greatest. While you wouldn’t want your physician to use outdated equipment, you wouldn’t want her to use non-FDA approved medical devices or drugs either. Because we don’t have an oversight body similar to the FDA to govern browsers, it’s practical to consider what physicians did before the FDA: wait a reasonable amount of time, review statistics, and weigh risks and benefits before recommending something new to your client.

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