Today, bad actors are using every tool at their disposal to commit brand abuse and sell counterfeit goods through online marketplaces, social media platforms, and ecommerce storefronts. In addition to trademark infringement, companies deal with revenue loss, social media impersonation, and cybersquatters infringing on domain names.
So, what is brand protection? In a nutshell, a brand protection strategy safeguards a company’s intellectual property against counterfeiters, pirates, and infringers. However, not every brand deals with the same level of abuse and infringements, so an online brand protection strategy should be tailored to a brand’s unique situation.
Our latest comprehensive guide for brand protection offers three main strategies brands can take depending on the stage of abuse that they encounter. In this article, we’ll summarize the main points of the report.
In this article:
At this level, your brand has just started to deal with effects of counterfeiting or other types of brand abuse like domain impersonation. Or, perhaps you haven’t noticed anything like this happening yet, but you want to be on the safe side and start an online brand protection strategy early. The basic steps for a starter strategy are:
The basic brand protection strategy starts with determining what IP you need to register and where you need to register it. Do you need to protect a trademark, design patent, utility patent, or copyright? Different types of infringements feed off of different intellectual property.
Registering your IP gives you the legal strength to enforce it, and it makes protecting your intellectual property rights that much easier. It’s also a good idea to register your IP in multiple countries, including areas with higher rates of counterfeit products, even if you don’t do business there.
After your IP is registered and you start seeing some level of counterfeiting, you need to take time to gather evidence to build your case. For a social media brand infringement, collect images, videos, captions, and comments. For an infringing listing on an ecommerce marketplace, collect a screenshot or URL to the listing, its location on the platform, and a description of any details you can gather.
The last step is to start enforcement against the counterfeit listings. Major platforms like Amazon and Facebook have methods for enforcement, and registering your IP with each platform can speed up the process. Most enforcement programs let you build a profile with your IP and use that to enforce your rights for multiple listings.
As your brand grows, you may find that many counterfeiters want to siphon off some of your success for themselves. At this level, you’re frequently seeing counterfeits on several different platforms. After taking care of the steps outlined in the starter strategy, you can take more control over the situation. The intermediate strategy involves the following:
Anti-counterfeiting efforts become easier when you can set up a strategy to monitor listings across multiple platforms. Fakes can show up on Instagram, Amazon, ecommerce stores, marketplaces like Google Shopping and more, so you need eyes everywhere.
To get a good view of the situation, you can get a free brand scan to uncover anywhere your products are being sold, whether legitimate or not. It’s important to take extra care when monitoring channels, because legitimate sellers can show up in unexpected places, for example when one of your brick and mortar dealers starts their own Amazon store.
Of course, monitoring multiple sites is labor intensive if done manually. To gain an advantage, consider automating the discovery and monitoring process with brand protection software. Monitoring software can make a legal team much more efficient since they don’t have to spend time searching dozens of marketplaces manually. When looking for brand protection services, consider things like scalability, reach, reporting ability, efficiency, machine learning, and industry expertise.
The last step in the intermediate strategy is to educate external stakeholders. Stakeholders include anyone invested in your company, like traditional investors, but also your leadership and team members as well as your customers.
The marketing department, for example, should know that one of the effects of online brand protection is increased ROI, and that their efforts will be more powerful. In general, your company will save time, maintain its authentic brand reputation, and improve relationships with other businesses.
An advanced strategy for online brand protection brings things to a new level. At this stage, you are dealing with a high volume of counterfeits and have noticed that infringers keep coming back. Here’s what to do:
Counterfeiters rarely act alone in a vacuum. Instead, they are connected by networks of other sellers, distributors, and manufacturers. Clustering technology can help isolate groups of bad actors across ecommerce platforms, websites, and social media sites to uncover the organization behind the infringements. The goal is to enforce against the whole cluster at the same time.
Brand protection also provides useful insight into your supply chain, marketing efforts, and more. Other departments can use data from monitoring and enforcement efforts to:
Employing a brand protection solution improves the visibility of your operations.
At this final stage, your company is able to tackle counterfeits from any angle. You use AI to constantly monitor for infringements and rank threats in order of priority. You also have brand protection lawyers to investigate, test buy, and enforce your case in civil courts. Simple threats can be taken down automatically, while more complicated issues need human attention. Combining offline and online brand protection is the best way to guard your brand equity and increase your success.
Believe it or not, we just touched on some of the main points in this article. Download The 2021 Guide to Modern Brand Protection below for a deeper understanding of what it takes to protect your brand from counterfeits on the internet. The guide includes links to detailed how-to manuals, checklists, and tools to support your brand for whichever strategy you choose.