Anyone that sells a popular product, whether a piece of gear or innovative clothing item, has or could potentially discover counterfeits of that product being sold by others. Generally, this won’t happen until a certain popularity or exposure threshold is reached and is more likely to occur, and be a resulting additional cost of, abroad manufacturing, particularly in Asia.
These days much of the retail market and purchasers exist online, primarily through established e-commerce websites, such as EBay and Amazon.com. The known websites are the primary e-commerce retail sources for much of the World, although they sometimes have different departments, contacts, and/or processes in differing jurisdictions.
Additionally, with the growth of online traffic there is a constant stream of new startup smaller online ecommerce sites attempting to take advantage of widespread access to consumers and low cost retail space. Unfortunately, some of these sites seem to be a business model based upon selling counterfeit, knockoff, or other versions of non-protected products at cheaper prices. A lot of times, we discover that these sites source their products more directly from Asia, many times through lesser known Chinese based e-commerce sites.
As mentioned above, since much of the world of manufacturing occurs in Asia, a manufacturing or product based business needs to be aware of Chinese based e-commerce sites generally less known to individuals and businesses based in the United States, but more so in other areas of the globe. These e-commerce sites, such as the AliBaba platforms and DHGate.com, are where one might most commonly find counterfeit products manufactured abroad and posts that violate a number of intellectual property rights. These sites also have more complicated infringement reporting systems that take time to setup and handle, plus additional arguments sometimes to enforce rights.
Each e-commerce website has its own infringement reporting system and process. Further, each website has a different level of evaluation and analysis of infringement for them to take action removing infringing content. Just because from a legal standpoint there is infringement, that does not mean websites will take unilateral action to remove others’ posts, as their business models are based on volume of sales posts and products moved, and they have to be careful not to take actions that affect others’ rights as well. Because of all of the site specific details and steps, using counsel who knows all of the processes and specificity can be more efficient and produce greater results (i.e. removal of infringing posts and products).
In many of these situations, time is of the essence. The faster an infringing post is discovered and removed the lower the number of lost sales and less of a foothold allowed to competitors. Additionally, it is important when countering infringement and infringing posts, that the identities behind the infringement are discovered and in particular situations, evidence of the infringement is saved and catalogued before it gets removed by the poster or e-commerce site, in case such identification information and evidence is needed for future action. All such steps are not always needed, but counsel experienced with this kind work can generally know and decide the maximum amount of effort and steps needed, thereby resulting in more cost-effective results.
Not only is reporting and enforcement of rights important, but even more so are the registration and pursuit of such rights, as it makes enforcement much more efficient down the road. There are a number of other steps manufacturers can take to limit online e-commerce infringement and unauthorized sales, including having one’s own website for retail purposes, using and creating contracted authorized dealers and retailers, and making sure that proper intellectual property and other brand protections and registrations are performed early on in the process of creating and developing an innovative or useful product or detail, particularly before any advertising and sales occur.
We come to find that a lot of e-commerce assistance companies attempt to help with these kinds of problems, but as they don’t know the legal principals and applications behind the reasoning and actions, they don’t achieve the same success rate and end up spinning the wheels quite a bit on matters, thereby delaying action. With our Firm’s background and history in litigation, research, transactions, tech, domains, and this general kind of work for commercial enterprises, we have the abilities and expertise to locate infringement, identify and locate the individuals or entities behind such actions, and decrease or even eradicate online e-commerce and other online infringement through efficient cost-effective steps. We are familiar with the main e-commerce websites used around the world and the intellectual property rights involved. Further, we provide a wide range of intellectual property services, including registrations and enforcement, which allow us to be a one-stop shop for many innovators and manufacturers, and the resulting entities.
If you’ve found someone selling counterfeit products of yours online or other websites, or simply want to take proactive steps to protect your innovations and products to prevent this, or at least make enforcement and prevention of infringement more likely and successful in the future, please contact us.