At SnapDragon we know too well just how distressing it is to have your brand copied. Our fearless founder has been there, done that and got the (genuine) t-shirt. It feels like your blood, sweat and tears have been compromised when a cheap copy of your product appears on the market. The prospect of your brand’s reputation, revenue and customers being at risk is terrifying.
We hate seeing brands under threat. That’s why we strive daily to protect businesses across the worlds busiest online marketplaces and social media platforms. In doing this we have learnt a lot. So, in this blog, we cover what we deem to be the essentials of online brand protection, in the hopes that it will help you defend yourself online.
Make Brand Protection a priority
Recognising that IP protection should be a key priority of your brand’s strategy is crucial. Whilst early action to protect your brand is always advised, it’s never too late to make IP a priority. Just as you would insure your business premises, by protecting your brand you are safeguarding it from all kinds of potential abuse. Sadly, as soon as you go online, and the bigger your brand becomes, the more risk there is of being infringed by those wanting to piggyback off your success. Don’t risk it – protect your brand from loss of revenue and reputation.
Register your IP
Register your trademark in as many territories as possible – especially China. The application fee to register a trademark in the UK with the IPO is £200. Think about the future, potential expansion and where you may possibly trade. You can also register products with the EUIPO enforcement data base and its equivalent elsewhere. Copyright is a popular form of intellectual property used by brands to protect their images and words worldwide. Unlike other IP, copyright registration is not necessary as in 167 countries copyright is automatically granted on creation.
Additionally, you may consider applying for design rights and patents if applicable. These can be more complicated. In many cases, registrations are underway or finalised before a product goes to market. We would always advise consulting an IP lawyer when filing any type of IP to ensure it’s watertight. If you need an IP lawyer, get in touch. We can put you in contact with some great ones that we trust!
Monitor the market and use your IP
Once your intellectual property is registered you can enforce it. In an ideal world you won’t have to go down this route, however, if required you can report sellers on online marketplaces, social media platforms and auction sites if you find infringing listings or counterfeits. By keeping an eye on the market you can monitor first to see if there is a problem. Our advice is to translate your brand into many direct and slightly indirect variant search words and search on these terms regularly. Misspellings can be quite common. It’s also worth searching these, as well as translating the product description into different languages. Using the image search function on google and on online platforms like Alibaba is also a useful tool.
Should you come across an IP infringement consider how you might best contact the infringer in a non-confrontational manner. Solving an issue amicably is always preferable to expensive legal cases.
Get to know online platforms
As a brand owner you may be familiar already with selling on sites like Amazon and eBay who will all have their own policies to deal with intellectual property. Many have developed streamlined processes to register your products and IP rights to simply remove suspicious listings. Brand Registry on Amazon is one example of this. We recommend having a whitelist of all your legitimate sellers as this is a useful step to identify any suspect or unauthorised sellers. Online marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba also have a system where repeat IP offenders are ‘blacklisted’. By getting to know the workings of these platforms you can use their systems to your advantage.
Should you come across a counterfeit, we recommend you buy a sample. By doing so you can familiarise yourself with the fake and inform customs and anyone in your supply chain so they can stay aware. Staying on top of counterfeits is crucial and you can warn your customers to watch out for unsafe fakes. Buying the counterfeit product as evidence will also support your claim and used to report the fake on these portals to remove it from sale.
You’re not alone
At SnapDragon we are here to help make your life easier. It can be time consuming running a business. We can ease the load to keep your brand is safe. Letting you focus on developing your business. To chat or request a demo please get in touch.