Digital Brand Protection — Challenges And Solutions

Daniel Bennett,

Online markets are growing fast and the popularity of eCommerce websites has seen an unprecedented surge during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Statista:

In 2019, retail eCommerce sales worldwide amounted to 3.53 trillion US dollars and eRetail revenues are projected to grow to 6.54 trillion US dollars in 2022. Online shopping is one of the most popular online activities worldwide.

Even for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) without sophisticated websites, eCommerce marketplaces now provide the opportunity to sell to the world. Having an online presence has become critical to all business ventures and many smaller companies and individuals have realized that they have to move online in order to compete.

We investigate the online brand protection challenges for companies that surround online sales and marketing, and get unique insight from Company Secretary and Director General of The UK’s Anti-Counterfeiting Group (A-CG) Phil Lewis, on how owners can best protect their valuable brand assets online against counterfeiting.

The danger of unregistered trademarks and squatters

The rise of international online markets has seen many goods purchased by consumers through a variety of channels, before the brands have been registered by the owners. This is because many businesses initially forgo the trademark registration process and begin to sell their products through global purchase channels on eCommerce platforms so that they can enter international markets early.

However, when the brand owners then start to try to file their trademarks in the jurisdictions where they are trading, they sometimes discover that their brands have already been registered by trademark squatters. This practice is particularly prevalent in China. So it is important for brand owners to file their trademark application early on in the process to avoid this unwelcome scenario.

Digital trademark challenges

Once you have run a trademark search and have successfully registered your trademark the focus now shifts to online brand protection. The powerful, global reach that external digital marketing channels like search engine marketing, affiliate marketing, remarketing, social media, and online marketplaces can offer companies to target customers means that the stakes have never been higher for brand owners to manage their trademark protection on these channels properly in order to benefit fully from the investment that they have put into establishing and growing the brand.

You can find out how balanced your current approach is and how you can develop a multi-channel brand protection strategy capable of dealing with all emerging threats in a recent Corsearch article “Multi-Channel Brand Protection: Constructing a 3D Defense of Your IP” by clicking on this link.

This rise in the use of online marketplaces and shopping platforms by companies to market and sell their products is mirrored by an increase in the volume of fraudsters and counterfeiters on these platforms — seeking to piggyback off the hard work and investment of brand owners. Now, more than ever, having a robust brand protection strategy in place that can monitor these online marketplaces and digital marketing channels is key.

Anti-counterfeiting strategies

Informing the consumer about the health and safety dangers of counterfeiting is also critical. Three industries that are doing great work in this arena today are pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and personal care products, and children’s products. We spoke to Company Secretary and Director General of The UK’s Anti-Counterfeiting Group (A-CG) Phil Lewis in the latest episode “Online Fights” of our legal podcast “Talkin’ Marks”, who told us:

Since the pandemic took hold online sales have risen dramatically with consumers spending 40% more online. Many of these are new online shoppers, which means they may be more susceptible to fraud. There is a growing need to build awareness about the rise of counterfeit goods being sold online, many of which are very dangerous.”

 “Online Fights” covers possible strategies for brand owners to combat both the act of counterfeiting, and the counterfeiters themselves!

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Final thoughts

IP crime is one of the biggest threats facing brand owners today. The rise in eCommerce and the globalization of counterfeiting can make the act of creating a strong anti-counterfeiting strategy challenging for brand owners. Counterfeiting jeopardizes not only the profits and reputation of corporations, but also the health and safety, and loyalty of consumers. Counterfeit goods only benefit criminals.

Case management puts the world in one place

For brands, law firms, and analysts, protecting intellectual property from infringement today is a complex, international process. From tracking customs seizures in Africa to monitoring online marketplaces in Asia, brand protection professionals may deal with hundreds of cases simultaneously.

 Now, more than ever, the threats to brand owners from counterfeiting are increasingly complex and require expert and timely strategic advice and solutions to match the rapidly developing challenges that businesses face in a rapidly evolving and dynamic marketplace.

Case Management is Corsearch’s robust case and document management system. Capable of handling vast quantities of data and complex legal cases, Case Management imposes order on your brand protection ecosystem.

From effective task and budget management to daily to-do lists, it puts the world in one place.

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*This is an informational opinion article of Daniel Bennett, Corsearch. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent official policy or positions of TrademarkNow or its clients.
By Daniel Bennett
Daniel Bennett has held chief executive and senior management positions in global software, consulting, and online services firms across Europe, Asia, and North America. Daniel is considered one of the pioneers of the online brand protection industry in Europe. He is also a regular and passionate writer and speaker on the evolving online threats to brand owners. Daniel is Corsearch’s President of Brand Protection.