In today’s digital economy, e-commerce platforms have allowed companies to reach uncharted territory in sales and market share. However, the downside is that it’s much easier for counterfeiters to steal and infringe on those intellectual property rights, too. Sadly, these counterfeiters, also known as pirates, take original ideas from respected businesses and sell knock-off products. If these infringers are not dealt with properly, this could hurt both a respected brand’s reputation and its bottom line.
Recently, digital retail giant Amazon warned of the dangers of pirates who sell counterfeit products in one of its earnings reports. This was the first time the retail giant ever mentioned pirated products and counterfeiters in an annual report. That alone indicated that this is a growing problem. One of the big issues is the high number of third-party sellers offering goods, which may end up being knock-offs. Those third-party sellers account for 52% of Amazon’s goods sold. Amazon further stated that it had no way to stop the infringements from happening on its platform, leaving businesses to fend for themselves in protecting their IP.
Because of this danger of infringement, many companies are asking how they can leverage their intellectual property rights to curb the number of counterfeit products on the market.
Ways to combat pirating over e-commerce
Unfortunately, these e-commerce infringements mean companies must be vigilant in protecting their IP. Here are some ideas for protecting your intellectual property from pirates:
- Brainstorm places your product might be sold as a fake. What places are likely to sell your product as a fake? Are counterfeit/competing products being marketed on Amazon or are there other platforms you need to watch? Who is buying your product or similar knockoffs and where? Upfront research into competing counterfeit markets will prepare you and your team for where you need to watch for stolen IP.
- Look at the big picture for the worst infringers or groups of infringers. Focusing on the 80/20 rule and looking for the worst 20% of infringers who may be causing 80% (or the majority) or the damage will keep your efforts targeted most effectively where they can have the most impact.
- Create a plan for watching for these criminal and markets for infringement. Having a plan for monitoring infringement can make it easier to track and more methodical. Include timelines, such as monthly or quarterly checks and then report to your team about what was found, if anything. This can be very empowering for an organization and will allow for more timely action to be taken against infringers.
- Communicate to your teams about your plan. Report your action plan and who will be responsible to your team and management. This adds confidence that proactive action is being taken to prevent or discover infringers. Having a plan in place protects your assets and, as a result, it also protects everyone’s livelihoods.
Get help stopping the infringement problem
While companies continue to wage battle with counterfeiters today, they can gain the upper hand by using the right tools and resources. Guidance from a knowledgeable and trusted legal partner who knows IP law can help.