Part of any good brand protection program is the ability to be proactively protected.  Making sure you're taking steps to keep your brand and IP protected before there's a problem can help mitigate any potential long term damage.

Counterfeiting is on the rise, and the financial impact is forecast to reach over $4.2 trillion by 2022. While online marketplaces struggle with how to help ensure that counterfeits aren’t making it onto their sites, there are steps brand holders can take to make it harder for bad actors to profit from their intellectual property.  [1] 

Here are four actionable items a brand holder can take now to help ensure the safety of their IP:

File for Federal Registration

While it might be tempting to simply utilize the “common law” approach to protecting your brand and logo, having everything officially registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office gives you an extra layer of legal protection that can be invaluable in shutting down bad actors.

Monitor Online Marketplaces

Unfortunately, even with anti-counterfeiting programs in place, online marketplaces and e-commerce sites still list counterfeit products. A recent survey showed that almost 30% of all online shoppers have unknowingly purchased a counterfeit item and  the majority of those purchases came from “reputable” online marketplaces. Tech savvy bad actors have figured out how to work around the online marketplaces anti-counterfeit efforts and continue to put their products online alongside authentic, authorized items. Ensuring your customers can only find your genuine product means maintaining a sharp, vigilant eye on the online marketplaces, conducting routine searches of the online uses of your brand name and trademarks, and stepping up your enforcement efforts during the holiday season.

Keep up on Social Media

Social media platforms are quickly becoming one of the fastest growing venues for counterfeiters to unload their wares. One way to fight back is to register your brand and trademarks with each platform. This gives you the ability to reserve the username associated with your brand, making it harder for bad actors to capitalize on brand confusion. Try to register your brand as early as possible and make sure to report any fraudulent accounts using your IP as quickly as possible.

Monitor Domain Names

Making sure your IP is safe online includes monitoring domain names for possible infringement. Start by first purchasing and registering domain names that include your brand name. Registering possible variations of your IP name is important as many bad actors rely on cybersquatting and brand confusion to lure in unsuspecting consumers. This includes domains utilizing the new gTLD’s.

Be Proactive, Stay Vigilant

The above listed steps are excellent ways to ensure your IP and brand are safe, but keeping up with constant monitoring is the only way to make sure that you and your customers stay safe. Staying on top of domain names, online marketplaces and social media can be time-consuming, but just one bad actor can undo years of building brand reputation and consumer confidence. There are several websites available that will return results for your designated brands. These sites will let you know when designated search terms appear online in blogs and other social media sites. While convenient, they’re not perfect, and should not be used as your only method of monitoring. Set up a monitoring program within your own company or hire an outside firm to monitor the searches for you. 

 [1] This blog post provides generalized information and does not constitute legal advice or an attorney-client communication. Each situation is unique and requires consultation with suitable professionals.

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