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Online Intellectual Property infringements

Are counterfeit products legal?

In most countries the production and sale of counterfeit goods is prohibited by law. However, if we take China where many counterfeits are manufactured, new laws were only recently introduced, and in 2019, and in 2021 it became a criminal offence carrying a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment.

Which industries are most susceptible to counterfeits?

Our experience shows us that counterfeiting is a significant threat to almost any industry, and brands of all shapes and sizes are targeted. However, some industries and brands are more at risk than others.

The most affected industries include the footwear, fashion, leather goods, electronics, watches and jewelery, cosmetics and personal care, and toys and board games industries.

Where do counterfeit products originate from?

The vast majority of counterfeit products are produced in China, India, and Thailand, whilst Hong Kong, the United Arab of Emirates and Singapore are key distribution points. From here, counterfeits are distributed and sold worldwide.

In which digital channels are counterfeit products sold?

Counterfeit products are advertised and sold throughout the same digital channels where the original products can be found. Sophisticated product listings and online scams are making it harder for consumers to identify real from fake.

They are often found within Google search results, throughout digital marketplaces, and on social networks. Rogue websites (which imitate the look and feel of an official brand website) are also used to deceive shoppers, facilitating the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods.

Fake branded products are also sold throughout markets and channels where the official brand does not operate, making it harder for brand owners to detect and negatively impact plans for expansion into new markets and territories.

How big is the issue of counterfeits within marketplaces?

Counterfeits are commonly found throughout digital marketplaces, despite the fact that many marketplaces have introduced measures to combat the issue.

Fake product listings can be difficult to detect, especially when we consider the number of merchants and products listed on any given marketplace. Counterfeiters also use tactics to avoid detection by excluding or manipulating keywords and excluding the official brand name in the listing title and description.

Consumers also let their guard down when shopping on familiar marketplaces, with a significant number believing that if a product is listed on a marketplace, then it must be genuine. This leaves both brands and online shoppers at risk.

Despite the varying efforts by digital marketplaces to rid their channels of counterfeit goods, it is still important that brands conduct around the clock monitoring and that's where our anti-counterfeit monitoring and enforcement solutions come into play.

Our relationships with the main marketplaces mean that we are able to issue a huge number of takedown notices quickly and efficiently, limiting the negative impact that such infringements have on official brands and their product sales.

How big is the issue of counterfeits within social networks?

Social media channels have grown rapidly, enabling brands to promote and sell products and services, share content, and drive traffic. In 2021 there were 4.48 billion active social media users so managing social activities is a formidable task.

Social media channels have become a hub for promoting and selling fake branded products which is why Social Media Protection is so important to brands operating in the digital world.

What level of counterfeiting and piracy is my company facing and where?

It is estimated that in 2022 counterfeiting and piracy have a global economic value in the region of $2.3 trillion, and our research tells us that four out of five companies suffer from counterfeits or some form of brand abuse online.

The only way to be aware of the threats and infringements is to monitor the various digital channels including Google search results, digital marketplaces, and social networks.

Unfortunately, many brands are unaware of the infringements which exist online, not only in the channels and markets where they operate, but also in those that they do not.

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property (IP) includes trademarks, designs, symbols, logos, names, and images which are owned and legally protected by an individual or a brand.

What is an intellectual property infringement?

An intellectual property infringement (IP infringement) occurs when a third-party engages in the unauthorised use or breaches the protected intellectual property rights (IPR) of a brand. This includes:

- Brand impersonation
- Patent or design infringementsImitation of a product (a counterfeit)
- Domain name disputes or trademark squatting
- Copyright infringements
- Piracy

How can I identify a rogue website?

Contrary to popular belief, not all rogue websites are easily identifiable, however, there are some key things to look out for:

- Does the website have an SSL certificate?
- Does the domain name match that of the official brand?
- Is there a limit to the number of items you can fit in your basket?
- Do onsite legal documents contain the correct info?
- Are contact details displayed onsite?
- Do social buttons link to the official social media pages?

Online Distribution Control

Is Gray market distribution illegal?

Gray market trading happens outside of the official brand owner’s distribution agreements, so it is unofficial. However, contrary to widespread belief it is not considered illegal as the goods being traded are genuine.

The only way to be sure if you have compliant resellers is to monitor digital distribution channels.

How do gray market situations impact my brand?

The sale of official branded products, outside of your contractual agreements, means that you have no control of where your products are being sold (channel or location), by who, and for how much. This can have serious implications on your sales, your revenue, and the consumers experience when buying your official branded goods. It can also cause issues when expanding your product offering or services to new channels and markets.

Smart Protection Solutions

What are the benefits of brand and product protection?

Our Brand Protection solutions are designed to provide you with full visibility of the threats which exist and emerge online. The data which we collect through our monitoring services provides you with valuable insights to make informed business decisions. It's this monitoring, combined with our enforcement packages which give you greater control of your sales, distribution chains, and your brand reputation online.

Our clients often report improved brand positioning, a rise in online sales, and an overall return on their investment.

The key benefits include: 
- Greater visibility of your brand and products online
- Act against threats which may damage your sales and brand reputation
- Protection for online shoppers which improves consumer confidence

What are the benefits of the Smart Protection Distribution Control (Gray Market) solution?

Gain 360 visibility of who is selling your products online, in which channels and markets, and for how much.

Access to powerful data and insights relating to your online distribution all stored in one secure platform. This information can be used to make strategic business decisions, and to protect third-party relationships. This data can be accessed 24/7 with the option to filter by date, channel, seller, and location and is available for download in Excel format.

Take action against non compliant resellers, we send requests to cease unauthorized activity on your behalf.

How much does it cost to protect my brand and products online with Smart Protection?

Our services are adaptable to suit your individual needs, and the price varies depending on the markets and channels, and the number of products you wish to protect.

We believe that brand and product protection should be affordable for companies of all shapes and sizes, making the internet a safer place for brands, resellers, and consumers alike. Contact us today to request a quote.

What is the ROI that I can expect from a solution?

There are many variables when it comes to calculating a ROI including industry, product or service type, channels, market share, customer base, and the number of threats which they experience online.

However, various clients have reported a return on investment, often related to an increase in sales brought about by the removal of fake branded products online. Other benefits such as safeguarding brand reputation, better reseller relationships, and greater insights into their customers and their distribution chain can all indirectly be attributed to an improved ROI.

Can I have a demo of the Smart Protection user portal?

Yes, you can request a free demo from one of our Brand Protection Advisors today and one of our team will be in touch to arrange a date and time which suits you best.

Do Smart Protection offer a free trial period (freemium)?

We offer a buy and try option. This allows new clients to test the service with the option to cancel at the end of the third month.

Do Smart Protection provide offline solutions?

We are experts in protection within the online world. However, the information that we gather online can be used as evidence in any legal proceedings offline.

How Smart Protection works

How does the Smart Protection product work?

Our automated tech solutions use the latest AI and machine learning technology to scrape information from the Internet. We use Big Data processes to classify this information alongside our expert team of analysts.

We detect any threats which exist and emerge throughout the various digital channels. We then analyse this information based on the threat level to prioritise their removal. All of this information can be found in our secure user platform. 

How do Smart Protection identify an infringement?

The data we gather is analyzed using our AI technology alongside our expert team of analysts. We use both a relevance, and a legal algorithm to decipher between legitimate and infringing content. If the client has supplied a whitelist, then it is cross checked to ensure that no authentic products, or content is removed.

Our machine learning technology analyzes the findings and stores information, growing more efficient and accurate by the day.

Can you quantify the number of infringements?

Yes, once you've contracted our services, you'll be able to monitor infringements in real-time. You can access this data within our secure User Portal where you can visualise the data in a structured way or filter and download the data in Excel format.

Do you monitor the products which are sold by resellers (authorized and unauthorized) in each Marketplace?

With our Distribution Control & Seller Tracker solutions, information relating to each individual seller by marketplace can be viewed within our secure, user-friendly platform. This data can also be filtered by time period and downloaded in Excel format.

How long does it take for Smart Protection to enforce?

As members of Google's Trusted Copyright Removal Program, and thanks to our relationships with the main digital marketplaces and social networks we act quickly and efficiently to remove fake products and infringing content.

Channels (compliant or non-compliant), markets, and the type of infringement all play a part in how quickly threats can be removed. Typically, infringements in Google are removed within minutes, compliant marketplaces in Europe and North America are delisted in 24 to 48 hours, however, marketplaces in Easter Asia can take up to 4 or 5 days.

What is your recommended scope of service and why?

We determine the scope of service after a brand analysis is conducted. In this brand analysis we identify the key territories and the digital channels where your brand requires monitoring and protection.

How long does it take to deploy the service?

After you have completed the sign-up process, within 24-hours you will receive a form which must be completed in relation to your brand. This information will be used to refine the infringement search. Our team will receive this information and process the activation within 72 hours.

How long should we have the service running?

Our standard contracts run for 12 months, but it may be cancelled with just one months´ notice. However, we recommend that brands maintain permanent visibility of online channels allowing a quick reaction to any threats which emerge. Failure to do so could be detrimental to sales revenue, consumer confidence, and brand reputation.

It's also important to recognize that we offer solutions which are not only connected to counterfeits and brand abuse. Users can also benefit from tracking their online sellers, distribution channels, and even what people are saying about them across social channels. These insights can help brands to make smarter business decisions.

What if you are unable to remove an infringement?

Firstly, we successfully remove 95%+ of the infringements we detect across compliant platforms. As members of Google's Trusted Copyright Removal Program (TCRP) and thanks to our special relationships with the main digital marketplaces and social networks, we act quickly and efficiently to remove infringements to limit the negative impact they may have on your business.

However, we also act on non-compliant platforms and the removal here can be more complex and may take longer. If we are unsuccessful after issuing takedown notices, digital evidence of the infringements is provided to our clients. This evidence can be used in the court of law when taking the appropriate legal actions.

Is your brand at risk?
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