The online infringement problem
Online IP infringements, such as counterfeit sales, trademark abuse, online traffic diversion and parallel imports are just a number of areas where legitimate businesses see their brands, products and ultimately market share being infringed online. These threats as not only real, but also global and multifaceted.
Counterfeit > fake products, real, multifaceted threats
The products are fake, but the results are all too real: lost sales and tarnished brand image – just two consequences of today’s substantial market in online infringement.
Counterfeit sales are estimated to account for between five and seven per cent of world trade, and are common across all product categories and industries. Today, copies are often virtually identical to genuine products in terms of quality, and in many cases consumers are unable to determine whether products are original or copies. However, many fakes do not comply with health and safety regulations which can put consumers in serious danger. Furthermore, the sale of counterfeit goods is, in some cases, contributing to criminal activity such as terrorism, drug trafficking and money-laundering, and also often involves poor working conditions, child labour and environmental pollution. All of this is making online brand protection a progressively difficult problem for businesses to solve.
Brand abuse, such as design and patent encroachment, is intentional online infringement activity carried out to exploit a brand and mislead buyers in order to gain some kind of profit for the fraudster. A brand can be an extremely valuable asset for a business and when it is attacked by a third party, it can have significant impact on sales and reputation.
Today, when a consumer gets a large amount of search results for your brand, he or she does not know which leads to a site where they are assured of buying original products, or perhaps isn’t even aware that fake versions of a product exist.
Online traffic diversion is a type of brand infringement whereby web traffic is diverted to a competitive or illegitimate website, so the offender can generate revenue at the expense of a brand owner. This misleading of buyers into thinking they are purchasing original well-known brands is becoming increasingly popular. Read more on Traffic Diversion.
A parallel import is when a branded good is imported into another country and subsequently sold there without the express permission of the intellectual property (IP) owner to do so in that market. They are not counterfeit products, but simply goods intended for sale elsewhere or through an authorised distributor. They are often referred to as ‘grey market products’ and occur because the price of an item is significantly higher in one country than another. They are difficult to control without patrolling the market methodically.
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