Creation, monitoring and protection of Brand Assets (Intellectual Property) is something that is often overlooked until brand protection becomes an issue. The issues often appear when counterfeits show up online on popular eCommerce sites like Amazon, eBay, Alibaba and others. Clients and customers request warranty work or exchanges of non-genuine goods. Even worse when distributors complain that their competitors are undercutting prices and selling counterfeits. Understanding the importance of intellectual property protection is crucial for minimizing risks.
Here are some things that businesses can do to mitigate exposure to brand erosion, customer confusion and counterfeits, as well as ways to protect intellectual property.
Control, monitor and audit your supply chain:
• Conduct extensive research on your contract manufacturers and other business that impact your supply chain (Background Research, Litigation Research, Credit Profile)
• Request the ability to conduct audits of your suppliers
• Investigate any affiliated business or online resale channels of your suppliers & manufacturers.
If your brand ends up in the hands of infringers, diverters and fraudsters, here are a few things you can do to identify and enforce:
• Undercover Buys / Evidentiary Buys
• Identify / Trace Sources of Infringement
• Cease & Desists Letters – In-person delivery of C&D letters accompanied with an interview can prove valuable in letting the infringer know that you are serious and you can often uncover valuable information about other players through this process.
• Seizures (Civil & Criminal)
• Create & Implement Online Brand Protection Programs
• Register your trademarks with ICE for enforcement at the borders
• Conduct discreet (undercover) visits at contract manufacturers, partners and distributors
These intellectual property protection examples are effective strategies to helping mitigate risks and prevent further damage. Admissible evidence is crucial to brand protection, so it is best to work with an outside law firm and trained private investigation firm that can obtain evidence of infringement/counterfeiting that will hold up in litigation. Please contact our offices at 949-900-3400 for assistance.