Some consumers believe that brand owners only care about keeping counterfeit products out of the marketplace because these “knock-offs” cut into company profits. But that’s only part of the story.
Working in this industry for almost 10 years has taught me that companies invest in efforts to protect their brand for many reasons, not just profits. Most importantly, they want to protect their customers. Secondly, they want to help rid the world of a criminal element that most people don’t think much about. Once a company understands the importance of brand protection, they need a plan.
What do they do and how do they do it?
Different companies employ different strategies. The specific tactics a company uses will depend on many factors, such as:
- Size of the company
- Product category
- Scope and size of the problem
- Available resources
Consider a small start-up company with limited resources. Counterfeiters sell copycats of their product on the open market. This erodes profit and the brand’s reputation. It interferes with their customers’ safety. What can they do?
The first and easiest step is to monitor online marketplaces to identify and remove infringing listings. Companies look for listings that violate their registered copyrights, trademarks, or authorized distribution channel. They can manually search marketplaces and websites for keywords and images in order to find infringements. Then they can submit a DMCA notice and takedown request to have the listings removed.
While important, manual searching can be time consuming and difficult depending on the size of the company and scope of the counterfeiting issue. So, with advances in technology, many brand owners opt to employ a third-party service provider that offers a tool to help automate the process. This allows for greater efficiencies. By leveraging an automated service, thousands of listings can be reviewed quickly via an online dashboard. Brand owners can often request takedowns with the click of a button.
The automation makes the process much easier but there are still benefits from having a human element. The best programs rely on both. Undoubtedly, having dedicated and experienced professionals managing the automated tool data results in even greater efficiencies and ensures a successful takedown program. But even with the efficiencies, there can still be frustrations.
So, what’s next?
Sometimes the takedowns don’t seem to be enough. Good news. There are many other strategies a company can employ when it’s ready to move beyond takedowns.
One such strategy is to send warning letters and/or cease and desist (C&D) notices to recidivist sellers. Serving formal notice to bad actors carries more clout than a takedown. It also provides an opportunity to educate sellers who may not know that what they’re doing is wrong. Furthermore, these legal notices set the stage if additional action, such as civil litigation or criminal referral, is warranted. A seller who continues to violate a company’s IP rights cannot claim ignorance if they’ve received notice of their wrongdoing.
C&Ds are just one of the many potential strategies that can be used to help grow your brand protection program. Companies can also collect market samples and additional evidence by developing a test purchase program or work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to stop counterfeits at the border.
Are you ready to take the next step?
IP Services (IPS) has 20+ years of experience developing and managing IP enforcement programs for our clients. We understand that leveraging outside counsel and in-house legal teams can be costly and many brand owners do not have the resources necessary to pursue enforcement beyond the takedown. IPS offers customized solutions and we have one for you. Contact us to learn more.
Stay informed with industry-relevant emails curated by our team of experts.
We send out emails once or twice a month relating to IP Services, industry news, and events we'll be attending so you can meet our experts in person.