Seed World

Pirates Treasure Online Retail, Take Steps to Protect Your Brand

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The online world is a dangerous place to be when it comes to protecting intellectual property (IP), explains J.J. Saul of Faegre Baker Daniels during the Seed Innovation and Protection Alliance’s technical education unit today in Chicago.

The trade of counterfeit and pirated goods is estimated to be $1.8 trillion a year, the largest criminal enterprise in the world. Saul points out that internet counterfeiting is cheap, anonymous, and has worldwide reach with a low risk of legal consequences. Not to mention that in 2018 online shopping was approximately 14% of all retail sales in the United States, of which Amazon accounts for 40% of online retail.

“Online stores, providing easy foreign access to U.S. consumers, are a haven for counterfeit good,” Saul says.

During his presentation, Saul pointed out examples of different counterfeit products for sale. So what’s his advice for companies to be able to protect their IP online?

In short, he says you’ve got to make your company a hard target so the counterfeiters pick on somebody else. While it takes a great deal of time and effort to policy, there are some basic steps that can be followed to help. Saul recommends:

  • Registering your IP and establish monitoring programs.
  • Prioritizing enforcement goals and identify corresponding tactics.
  • Tracking the impact of your enforcement efforts.

If counterfeiting is found, there are three areas of enforcement that can be deployed. Saul says there are internet enforcement tools that can be used to disrupt online activities. Additionally, one might consider filing customs recordals to impeded shipments of illicit products. Finally, law enforcement can be leveraged to take criminal action.

Saul says the onus really lies with the company owning the IP to monitor and police the marketplace to protect their brand. He says if you’re not doing this and you wait until a little problem becomes a big problem, you might lose control of your brand and your brand rights.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” he says.

Saul was one of three speakers who spoke on the importance of IP, recent events and today’s landscape. He was joined by Alice Martin of Barnes & Thornburg and Dan Knauss of Cooley LLP.