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Fake it While You Make it – TikTok: Counterfeiters’ Newest Fix

From its humble start as a viral song app, the popular platform TikTok has become a global phenomenon the world over, launching careers, trends and the latest sensation. When it comes to social revolutions, it’s no exaggeration to say TikTok has changed the game – and all in under ten years.

However, as we all know, with success comes danger – as intellectual property (IP) owners have learned to their cost. Whether it’s promoting fake designer goods (to achieve that all-important luxury lifestyle) or creating content using your copyright, TikTok is now one of the biggest IP battlegrounds for businesses to consider, particularly when it comes to brand protection.

Let’s take a look at the data.

Recognised as the world’s fasting-growing brand back in January, TikTok has tripled in value from $18.7 billion in 2021 to over $59 billion today – making it a prime target for brands and consumers alike. What’s more, with a global audience of over 1 billion (and a young demographic to boot), it has proven to be an increasingly attractive way to reach new customers and markets.

This all sounds ideal for brands; however, wherever there is an opportunity for money-making, counterfeiters will sadly follow. Taking advantage of TikTok’s open access platform and automated algorithm, promoting fakes and scams through hard-to-trace accounts has become an easy way to target young consumers, using social media to falsely legitimise and “future-proof” sales against an increasingly volatile offline backdrop.

To take a recent example, consider Turkey. As a traditional hotbed of luxury holiday fakes, since the pandemic the Lira has taken a hit, fuelling a trend towards selling in Euros. Enter TikTok – with the Guardian recently identifying a notorious fake account boasting over 155,000 followers alone. Benefitting from the platform’s global reach and a consumer desire to emulate influencers’ aspirational lifestyles, such sellers have seen counterfeit sales more than double last year. If that weren’t enough, to quote the counterfeiter’s own words, they “could sell more […] but I don’t want to attract attention”.

And it doesn’t stop there. From widespread copyright threat of independent creators, including musicians and brand owners, through to wholesale “get rich” schemes – and even the sale of illicit pills – TikTok continues to be a counterfeit magnet, with no sector immune from this negative impact. Indeed, and as we all know, whether it’s counting lost sales to serious safety implications, the reputational risk of fakes on real brands cannot be overstated.

So, what can brands do?

The best way to weed out the fakes is to monitor the web to find copycat versions of your product. Fraudsters are always on the look out to make some money from your hard work, and will use your intellectual property including trademarks, copyright, designs and patents to do so.

This process can be time consuming and expensive, and at SnapDragon, we take the burden off your hands with protection that wont cost you the earth. Our team of multi-lingual brand analysts search the worlds busiest ecommerce sites, social media and domains to find the scammers and take them down using your intellectual property. Our mission is to protect your reputation, revenue and customers.

And if you would rather do it yourself? Our self-service solution finds the fakes so YOU can take them down.

To show you just what we can do, we will perform a free brand audit to show you where your brand may be in danger. Request one here.

Posted in: Brand Protection Insights
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With a background in art history & fashion marketing, Lewis now works as a brand protection specialist in multiple sectors including whisky and homeware, where he passionately defends clients’ names, products and aesthetic integrity.

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