Don’t assume your brand isn’t at risk on WeChat

WeChat logo for article Don't assume your brand isn't at risk on WeChat

We previously reviewed how the social platform, WeChat, has quickly gained dominance to become the app that will be used by nearly 500 million people in China alone this year. Furthermore, securing more international brands on their platform has become key in WeChat’s expansion, as some Western brands take up the simpler route to enter the bureaucratic Chinese market.

However, even if a brand isn’t ready to take advantage of the world’s largest e-commerce market, counterfeiters are! With infringers jumping on the available technology, rights holders may find that their brand is already being sold fraudulently on the WeChat platform without their knowledge. 

Yellow Brand Protection Asia Director, Zihan Liu, an expert on emerging online platforms and who works closely with WeChat, commented “WeChat now has 960 million active users per month, making it the world’s largest social media platform with a payment function and attracting more and more users to trade on the app. However, due to the fact that WeChat is a semi-private platform, it is difficult for rights owners to find data on all infringements being marketed. Fortunately, WeChat pays great attention to IP protection and has launched a few anti-counterfeiting programmes".

WeChat responded to the counterfeiting situation by putting a dedicated team and IPR protection mechanism in place. Out of the 57,000 IP notices received from rights owners and representaive agents, the WeChat IP team had managed to take down 55,000 of these complaints by August 2017. Although WeChat is positively engaging with brand owners, the multi-platform nature of communications is a big challenge for them and the rights holders. 

Fraudsters are connecting with consumers on WeChat by sharing links to product pages, such as on photo-sharing sites, and then carrying out the transactions on other platforms. Additionally, the infringers provide their 'WeChat IDs' to potential buyers on other online platforms, and after becoming friends on WeChat, they send details of counterfeit goods directly to the buyer and carry out transactions inside the WeChat app. This method can also facilitate the offender to secure a longer term relationship with the consumer. With deals being carried out elsewhere and purchases being transacted through the private WeChat messaging app (which is illegal to access in China) it makes infringements almost ‘invisible’ and extremely difficult to police.

Submitting a complaint is, therefore, no easy task and investigating and providing evidence to link all the different channels together will be extremely time-consuming. However, it is essential that rights holders have a thorough understanding of this immense social platform and know how to monitor it methodically to protect their brand.

Want to know more? Get our FREE guide - 5 fundamental steps towards brand protection on WeChat today.