Online marketplaces provide rogue sellers with a global platform and a level of anonymity that makes it not only easy to hide but also challenging to distinguish real from fake. Starting with eBay and Amazon, but now including Alibaba, Taobao and many others, these marketplaces have become a battleground for many brand owners who have seen their assets abused, copied and sold in enormous quantities.
An enormous challenge
The first retail transaction on the Internet took place on August 11, 1994. Twenty years later, online sales reached $1.5 trillion and, according to eMarketer, that number will soar to $2.5 trillion by 2018 – more than the annual GDP of France. Today, there are some 900 online marketplaces, with new ones emerging on a regular basis. The space is dominated by a few giants – including e-Bay and Amazon – but the biggest of them all is Alibaba and its small-seller platform, Taobao. The latter generated almost $400 billion in sales in 2014.
Not surprisingly, online marketplaces have become the number one venue for counterfeiters. The scale of the fakery is enormous – it is widely believed that at least 80% of all branded products sold on some of the best-known platforms are counterfeits. Fakes cover every product category you could possible imagine, from simple fashion items to heavy industrial equipment.
Site owners are finally fighting back
When asked what would happen to online marketplaces if they took down every illegal listing, a wise person replied,
They’d all go bankrupt. Though doubtless true, site owners are nevertheless beginning to take counterfeiting seriously. Recently, Alibaba announced a partnership with 20 leading global brands under the banner
Alibaba Big Data Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance. Amazon is pursuing similar initiatives, making fighting fakes a major goal for 2017. The company issued a statement expressing
zero tolerance for the sale of counterfeit items on our site.
For brand owners, the most important proactive step you can take is to register your IP rights in all key markets. Then you’ll be ready to pursue a more reactive strategy when you need to. Conversely, without the rights in place, it is impossible to take legal action.
What we do
Thanks to our advanced automated search platform, we are able to track and monitor around 900 sites daily, exploring and organising information using tools such as big data clustering, cross-checking contact information and identifying key threats – including major distributors and manufacturers of fake goods. To do this successfully, we use computing power, lots of it. And while we are the first to admit that technology is indispensable in our line of work, it has to be complemented by a human touch. That is why we have built good working relations with site owners around the world, allowing us to remove illicit listings without fuss or delay. Our success rate is consistently between 95 and 100%. And because we have offices on three continents, staffed by experienced multi-lingual teams of analysts, we have the communication skills needed to ensure your interests are being protected. Read more about our Anti-Counterfeiting service here