Never before have brands been under so much pressure to protect themselves. The growing demand in light of COVID-19 has increased an impressive 146% year-over-year growth in all U.S. & Canadian online retail orders. Consumers are rapidly adapting themselves to digitalisation, purchasing most things online. This rise in ecommerce demand has been coupled with the rise of cybercrime. Counterfeiters flood into all kinds of online existence as it’s hard for consumers to tell whether they are buying a fake product or not. This potent combination of a rise in global demand and faster but less accountable distribution platforms has resulted in brands seeing 41% rise in cybercrime during Covid-19.
To consumers, seeing a brand’s counterfeits on marketplaces are a warning sign. 40% of consumers think the original brands are responsible for taking counterfeit toys off online channels. It’s now a necessity for any company with a strong brand, individual design or original product to protect their business from Intellectual property infringements.
There are a number of services that offer a wide range of protection, from multinational protection services to traditional legal firms or smaller tech based solutions. Whether you are choosing a tech or traditional based solution for your brand there are some key factors to consider before you select your solution.
The right brand protection service will prevent and respond to any cases of unauthorised trademark use and illicit retail, of either genuine or counterfeit products. It therefore protects your brand from loss of revenue, declining sales and crucial damage to brand equity.
You want all of your budget spent wisely and efficiently, so when you realize that your products are being targeted by infringers and you want to find a solution to protect your brand, the best and first thing to do is always to understand the scale of the infringements – Do you have only one counterfeit incident or you are aware of the piracy over a few sites already, and there might be more? Is the brand protection service scalable according to the type and size of incidents that you have? A qualified brand protection solution should be capable of auditing and assessing the current risk your brand is facing and offer a corresponding solution.
Depending on whether you are looking to resolve a single case or deal with multiple or you are looking for continued protection after the audit, will all affect whether this is a relevant consideration for you. Technology has allowed for an increasing number of platforms and methods of brand infringement – from counterfeit goods sold over social media to search engines leading consumers to fake websites, and counterfeits are even being sold on apps like WhatsApp and Wallapop. Cybersquatting diverts traffic away from your brand’s website, threatening both businesses and consumers whilst surrendering control of trademarks.
If your business is seeking to solve multiple cases of IP infringement and monitor the brand continuously, then the search capacity of the service will be extremely important. Most legal firms do not employ technology based scans, unless stated, and so they rely on manual searches. However, not all tech solutions are created equal, it’s important to know whether your solution (tech or not) will be searching only top ranking marketplaces, such as Amazon and Ebay, or if it will be able to scan over the entire web.
Whilst a long-term solution should be the absolute priority (see our webinar on how to stop repeating IP offenders), speed in removing infringements is crucial in a brand protection solution, to stop the effects of counterfeiting and regain brand control. A reliable brand protection service will advertise their rates of removal, and you should pay attention to the ratio of detections to eliminations and the average time from detection to removal of infringements. You should expect success rates of above 80%, with at maximum a three-day window for successful removal of infringements. Efficiency rates can be increased with automated tech but also through industry relationships which ensure that ISPs and marketplaces prioritise requests for rapid takedowns.
Arguably the most important factor, as this is the evidence of the work completed. Most brand protection services offer a reporting system based on an app or visual web dashboard. Software which is simple to work and easy to understand can be a huge time saver and reduce additional training costs. A good system should do more than simply detect infringements – it should be able to report in detail and highlight websites and geographical areas of particular risk. It is important to consider whether you can access IP infringement data instantly through a portal or whether you have to wait for monthly reports. Real time data is clearly the desired form of reporting, as this allows you to see infringements as they are detected.
Technology is ever evolving, and so are counterfeiters as they attempt to avoid detection. Does the solution you are checking learn from its search results? Innovation is a must in the digital global counterfeit industry, staying up-to-date with keywords which identify future threats to your brand, and using given data to customise the service delivered keeps you winning ahead of cyber criminals. Brands that do anti-counterfeiting right constantly work to adapt and integrate new technologies to remain one step ahead of counterfeiters.
Some degree of human analysis is a good idea, as no matter how many tasks technology can automate, it can’t (yet) replicate years of industry experience. Expert analysts can direct the technology and predict new trends, whilst an in-house legal team can assist with any extrajudicial actions required, such as those involved in taking down a fake website. Besides, anyone who’s ever gone through the pain of automated customer service will agree that it’s nice to have a knowledgeable human to speak to in a time of need.
Brands that allow counterfeits to go unchallenged are endangering their current brand equity, partners and product reputation. All companies are restricted by time, budget and resources. In finding the right brand protection services you will also have to consider what staff time and resources you can commit to brand protection, and the costs involved in the services of brand protection software.
There are many factors to consider, and all should be tailored to your own risk level. Thorough searching on Google, social media and top e-commerce sites for counterfeits will provide a certain level of insight into your risk, or alternatively take advantage of our demo meeting to analyse your level of counterfeit, which can be used to scale a solution to your specific risk requirements.
Red Points Brand Protection solution can automatically search thousands of targeted websites for keywords related to specified items and pages, where possible employing a keyword life-cycle, so that the process can evolve alongside counterfeiters’ attempts to avoid detection. This should help you to quickly identify the sites which pose the biggest threat to your brand. For more details on the technology of brand protection services and what are the key performance factors to look for, download our product guide.