From concept to market, we work across borders to protect your most valuable brands and intellectual property. Our team of lawyers has years of experience battling counterfeiting, piracy, and product diversion on a global scale. We use an innovative and proactive approach in working with our clients to develop effective brand protection programs that prevent or reduce the negative impact counterfeiting and IP theft has on your business.
We have identified six key attributes that would create a near perfect protection for the modern brand.
Because of the internet, people have a greater ability than ever to communicate with each other. It also has provided a near unlimited market of customers for counterfeiters who operate online. The reach of online communication channels has meant that businesses have had geographical market restrictions lifted in a huge way and they have gained access to a global market almost overnight.
The improved communications has also cut out the middleman and manufacturers can now communicate with and sell directly to the end consumer so they don’t have as much need for regional distributors.
What this means for brand protection is a massively more difficult job for border and customs officials since illegal goods are shipped in huge containers together but in millions of little packages it would be a monumental task to physically search each and every package that crosses a national border so more chances are able to slip through the cracks.
Anonymity is another key part of the internet which has become an especially useful defense for counterfeiters in a couple of key ways as no one can over-certain the true identity of sellers online.
The ability to hide your identity makes it that much easier to fool customers meaning the perception of legitimacy can be created that will promote trust in the seller. This is essential as online purchases are based on trust in a physical shop. The customer has the opportunity to examine the exact article that they are buying and would have a chance to check.
However, on the internet, the customer has to trust the vendor to sell legitimate goods. They have to trust that the image used to display the product is really representative of what they will receive and not just an image taken from a legitimate site.
This is especially problematic on certain online marketplaces where a number of sellers offer the same products and all share the same listing on the platform.
Counterfeits and legitimate products are all bundled together shielded from deeper inspection. By using their anonymity, websites are also a fantastic tool for counterfeiters because a new site can be created in a matter of seconds.
There is no need to find a new physical store to rent and sell from nor a different neighborhood for street sellers.
If a website is taking down it’s not challenging to set it back up in a different URL and to continue selling.
Furthermore, tools like VPNs or Virtual Private Networks allow internet users to hide their physical location and they provide an extra level of defense for online IP infringers of all types combined with issues of anonymity.
There are a number of key players in the traditional method: lawmakers write up the new laws to ensure that IP infringements are illegal. Even in ways that are very modern like when databases were granted copyright protections in Europe in 1996.
Once clear laws and protections are in place then border patrols and customs officials work to prevent counterfeit products entering the country.
Once counterfeits are in a country and are being sold then it’s up to the law enforcement agencies to find those people selling counterfeits and to bring them to justice.
Overall the job tends to fall to company lawyers who gather evidence and can start legal action against infringers.
In short, it’s been difficult for traditional brand protection staff to cope with the changes because the sheer volume of infringements being found online is incredible.
A legal team tasked with fighting this ocean of infringements is doing work that is necessary to protect the brand of the company they work for but it’s very slow and very expensive.
It’s also not using the reason and abilities of lawyers to the full extent instead of trudging through an unending list of individual infringing cases.
Lawyers are better utilized in key battles against repeat offenders and the industry hierarchy announcing investigations into the supply chain of mass counterfeit production trying to scale up the size of custom agencies so they can tackle all this individual packaging being shipped to the end customer isn’t exactly feasible.
Either it would simply be too expensive for governments to employ the army of staff required to check every small package and even when counterfeits are found and confiscated.
The internet has made the color fitting industry so cost effective that the seller has no qualms with resetting a replacement item.
Also, removal of offending websites hasn’t really worked well either. The pirate bay is a clear example of this. The infamous torrent platform is removed routinely by governmental agencies only to reappear with a slightly different URL hosted from a different IP address sites like this are like a hydra when it loses a head.
The globalization of communications and commerce, any two people with an internet connection are now able to communicate with each other and they are able to sell things to each other but law and law enforcement have not quite caught up with the pace and scale of issues that ecommerce has brought to sovereign nations.
Dealings and regulations protections might work well within a country but these protections often don’t travel across borders.
Using traditional brand protection methods, lawyers and law enforcement against this new breed of problem is ineffective to fight today’s technological problems with yesterday’s strategies, litigation policy and other established practices.
A new approach is needed to confront an online counterfeiting one which combines these traditional methods with the capabilities of a modern technological solution. We’ve looked at the internet and the problems it brings for people in our situation.