As global e-commerce sales continue to rise, more brands are placing their goods online and attracting new customers. Global pandemic currently shutting down most of the world’s physical retail stores plays no small role in drawing consumers into online shopping. Fighting boredom, consumers spend more time browsing online, and e-commerce platforms are taking notice and innovating. Livestreaming advertisement has exploded in China, and with good reason – traditional marketing events held by foreign brands are usually seen in high-end malls in Beijing but only draw a few hundred people. Livestreaming allows for millions of people to be exposed to your brand, with minimal investment. With more than 900 million users (and growing) on various Chinese e-commerce platforms, the potential for brands is vast. The potential is equally as enticing to counterfeiters. Although most of the largest e-commerce websites have provisions against listing counterfeit goods, the volume of sellers is difficult to police. As such, brand owners must be wary of sellers offering counterfeit goods bearing famous logos, as such products can irreparably damage the reputation of a brand, losing future consumers and revenue. To ensure the safety of your brand on Chinese e-commerce platforms, there are a few important measures to adopt as part of your IP protection strategy.
First, make sure your trademark or design are registered in China – this jurisdiction is first-to-file, meaning that anyone, regardless of true ownership of the mark, if they were the first to register a mark in China, is the rights owner and is free to use to mark. Such practice is widespread in China, where bad faith filers register foreign brands without the brand owner’s knowledge, thus barring the true owner form using the mark. Therefore, the first and most important step is to register your mark in China well ahead of product launches or other commercial activities. This will also give you solid legal footing in any future disputes.
If your mark is registered in China and has been used (placed on products, etc)., engage a monitoring service to help you stay aware of developments surrounding your IP. As each jurisdiction publishes a mark, monitoring can help you be aware of any new marks seeking registration that are similar to your existing mark. These new marks may be infringing on your rights and knowing about them to take action quickly can save your brand’s reputation.
For products sold on e-commerce websites such as Amazon, Taobao, AliExpress, or JD.com, it is especially important to adopt an online brand protection strategy and monitor those platforms for counterfeit goods. Although such platforms have anti-counterfeiting policies in place, such measures are usually spotty in their performance and do not guarantee total protection & takedown of suspicious and unauthorized sellers of counterfeit goods. Monitoring these platforms for counterfeit goods by hand is a Sisyphean task – as with everything online, evidence of fakes can be removed within a second, leaving no trace to be used as evidence. With the rise in legal technology solutions, monitoring a brand in the online space has become a reality. Sophisticated technology requires only a few pieces of information such as the brand name or logo and a description of the goods to be searched, and an algorithm searches across specific marketplaces for similar goods. This tech solution is hundreds of times faster and more reliable than a similar search done by hand – so for those brand owners seeking to minimize time spent searching and instead take down counterfeiters it really is a no brainer.
Searching and finding counterfeiters, however, is the first hurdle. Getting them to stop damaging a brand’s reputation is another. What steps can be taken after finding suspicious goods online? Contact a legal representative in the jurisdiction where an e-commerce operates – China and other Asian countries are still rife with counterfeit goods, but Amazon and other e-commerce giants are not immune. The attorneys may then use evidence gathered by the online brand monitoring tools to begin proceedings against bad actors – conducting an on-site investigation, completing a notarized purchase, and even escalating to administrative proceedings and litigation might be some steps taken to cease counterfeiting activities.
Protecting a brand in the volatile online space may seem a difficult, high-cost and time-consuming affair, but the rewards may mean a significant portion of a brand’s revenue and reputation maintained with the rightful IP owner. Legal tech solutions are the future of brand protection, and tools like Kangxin IP Platform which offers e-commerce platform monitoring among other brand and IP protection services, offer some of the most secure and reliable results. Many such services are offered by technology companies and leave brand owners to fend for themselves with the results found, but Kangxin’s advantage is the team of veteran lawyers picking up where technology leaves off – designing strategy and navigating legal regulations to complete the brand protection service to its fullest.