According to research conducted by Edwin A. Sisson, Attorney at Law, LLC roughly 1 in 4 manufacturers in Medina County are likely being counterfeited online.
Counterfeiting poses many serious problems for legitimate brand owners. Counterfeit products are frequently of a lower quality than a legitimate product, leading to poor product performance and high failure rates. These issues harm the legitimate brand owner in two ways. First, the legitimate brand owner directly loses out on revenue from sales of counterfeit products to consumers who would otherwise purchase the legitimate product. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), counterfeit goods accounted for over $450 Billion in economic activity worldwide in 2013 alone. Second, because counterfeit products are marketed under legitimate brands, consumers may lose faith in the quality of the legitimate brand owner’s products when the counterfeit product breaks or fails to perform. All of this can lead to consumer complaints, diluted brand value, and ultimately reduced revenue for the legitimate brand owner.
Attorneys at Edwin A. Sisson, Attorney at Law, LLC have spent an extensive amount of time in the U.S. and overseas to understand the problem and help protect brand owners. They recommend that – at a minimum – brand owners should:
Obtain U.S. and international trademark registrations early
Trademark registrations usually represent the first line of defense against counterfeiting. Without valid trademark registrations in place, brand owners have very few options for addressing counterfeiting activity. Even the step of developing a portfolio of registered trademarks in the U.S. and around the world can deter counterfeiters who may not wish to risk counterfeiting products where the brand owner has demonstrated a willingness to take steps to protect their brand.
Part of a company’s brand protection strategy should include obtaining international trademark registrations. While a brand owner may manufacture and sell products primarily – or even exclusively – in the United States, counterfeiting activity often occurs abroad. For instance, the OECD found that the majority (63.2%) of counterfeit goods originated in China. Understanding where counterfeit goods originate, and where there is demand for counterfeit goods, allows brand owners to tailor their trademark registration strategy to fit market needs.
Conduct consumer awareness campaigns for the company’s products and anti-counterfeiting activities
While consumers often purchase counterfeit products under the mistaken belief that they are buying a legitimate product, this is not always the case. In some instances, consumers will seek out counterfeit products because they are less expensive than purchasing the legitimate product. Effectively communicating to your customers and potential customers the value of buying your legitimate goods as opposed to a less expensive counterfeit is an often overlooked but critical component to your brand protection strategy.
Additionally, brand owners should consider publicizing their brand protection efforts, including any new trademark registrations they obtain and the results of any enforcement actions that they may take. The simple act of publicizing that you – as the legitimate brand owner – are concerned about your customers, and taking action to protect your brands both deters would-be counterfeiters and increases brand loyalty.
Monitor for infringement and enforcement opportunities
Trademark registrations alone will not prevent counterfeits of your products from entering the market. Your brand protection strategy is only as good as your efforts to monitor for counterfeits of your product, and your willingness to take action to enforce your rights when you find counterfeits in the market.
Attorneys at Edwin A. Sisson, Attorney at Law, LLC assist their customers in the following common enforcement strategies:
- Sending take-down notices to e-commerce websites that list advertisements for counterfeits of your product.
- Working with customs and border protection units in the U.S. and worldwide to seize imports (and in some countries exports) of counterfeit goods before they enter the market.
- Litigation against counterfeiters, which may result in injunctions stopping the sale of counterfeit goods and/or monetary damages.
Most often, use of these strategies requires that the brand owner already have trademark registrations in place.
If you are interested in learning more about brand protection and anti-counterfeiting, please contact our office at 330-598-1799