Tag Archives: strategy

Why Most Businesses Fail at Legally Protecting Themselves!

Intellectual Property Infringement – How To Stop Alibaba From Selling Your (Fake) Products

Protection of Intellectual PropertyIntellectual property (IP) infringement is damaging for any business, and can be a particular problem for those that sell products online through platforms like Alibaba.

Chances are that if you have a business and your business has a website, you count as one of thousands of growing digital companies that export their IP to the world. This also exposes you to risks that you are probably unaware of. IP and copyright in particular, are complex areas of law. Alas, copyright infringement and counterfeits take a stronghold where others seek to exploit your commercial endeavours at your expense. One prime suspect is China, where e-commerce piracy is still very prevalent.

It only takes a moment to understand why it is important to police your brand against intellectual property infringement when you analyse the number of sales made on Chinese e-commerce platforms, such as Alibaba. According to an article on fortune.com, last year, Alibaba represented 86% of China’s online mobile shopping, with 367 million active users, which, on the average, each active buyer purchases 58 packages a year. It has over 10 million active sellers, which dwarves Amazon’s 2 million. In short, it is a marketplace like no other.

It is unfortunate and nonetheless very common, that brands suffer at the behest of counterfeit sellers in this megalith-type online marketplace where copying and counterfeit trading is rife.

How To Put An End To It

Despite the growing complaints against Alibaba, counterfeit and copyright infringement is still a big problem. Those who have filed a lawsuit against Alibaba Group Holding earlier in May include Kering SA who own Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent amongst others.

In order to stop Alibaba from selling your (fake) products, they need to be alerted that there is a seller who is selling unauthorized copies or fake versions of your product. To do this, you have to follow a procedure which deals with IP complaints on the Alibaba platform. This involves proving the ownership of your IP rights through a specially developed ‘AliProtect’ platform.

Through ‘AliProtect’, users are able to identify the infringer and demand that the infringement be brought to an end by removing the fake listing. It is not as easy as it sounds. Also, as a listing is removed, another appears. Further, proving ownership might be problematic. For example, in the UK you do not need to register copyright, whereas in the USA or China it is usual to do so. Consequently, playing a game of online “whack-a-mole” can be distracting and also disruptive to your business. If you ignore it, you risk putting your brand’s hard earned reputation, and takings, on the line.

Get Help With Intellectual Property Infringement 

It’s difficult to make a complaint about intellectual property infringement when you are not sure how copyright or trademark ownership issues are decided on these platforms. It can be a time consuming exercise which will divert your attention and energy from what you ought to be doing.

Involving IP lawyers who understand counterfeits, and intellectual property infringement can save you time, energy and money in the long run by diverting sales back to authorized distributors and sellers.

Azrights has assisted clients with such problems. Identifying intellectual property, and advising on strategic, cost effective protection is an important component of such advice. Issuing take down notices to infringing parties, is essential, as is policing your brand in order to maintain its commercial allure. Get in touch to find out how we might be able to help you fight unauthorized sellers distributing fake copies of your products .

Brand Planning

Brand Planning – A Lesson Learned From A Golden Bear

Brand PlanningFor companies, brand planning is an important aspect in brand execution. As far as we know, the best brands are also the best planned brands including the legal side. In a recent turn of events Lindt, the Swiss chocolatier, has emerged victorious in a long-standing battle with Haribo, the German confectionary company that has been attempting to stop Lindt from selling gold chocolate bears since 2012.  According to an article published in the Guardian, Haribo had won the first round of the battle, when a German court banned future sales of the Lindt chocolate bears in December 2012. That ruling, however, has since been overturned on appeal, noting that there was no likelihood of confusion between the two products.

Interestingly, Lindt had lost its fight against German chocolatiers, Confiserie Riegelein, which was producing similar chocolate bunnies. One might say what-goes-around-comes-around when it comes to trademarks and confectionary sweet companies, however, Haribo is likely to be bitter about this ruling.

The point in case was that, according to Haribo, the chocolate bear wrapped in gold foil accompanied with a red ribbon was an appropriation of Haribo’s Goldbären brand and to that effect, the chocolate bear was consolidating a market position on the back of investment and brand awareness built by Haribo. Lindt, on the other hand, argued that the golden bear had been a variation of the golden eastern bunny chocolate and not an illegal imitation of the golden gummy bear or its corresponding logo.

Brands And Competition

Not long ago we wrote about Nestlé being blocked by rival competitor Cadbury’s in our post on: 3D Trademarks & Registered Designs – KitKat Loses Legal Fight for Four-Finger Chocolate bar.

What is easy to take from this is that where industries are particularly competitive, such as in confectionary food industry, it is a brand’s distinctiveness and the awareness surrounding that brand which allows it to survive on a global level. This is where brand planning comes in handy to assure that you know where your brand is heading, legally.

As a lawyer said “The cost of these cases is significant, but it’s about being seen to take action and ringfencing your brand and intellectual property rights as much as you can.”

This is important because trademarks are increasingly relevant in today’s digital economy, as the advent of the internet and development of internet based technologies has opened trade channels on a truly global level not seen before. Trademarks offer the most powerful forms of intellectual property (IP) protection for any brand logo or name and therefore, it is imperative that a certain amount of consideration is paid to trademarks as part of any business strategy.

Below are some trademark considerations from International Trade Mark Association (INTA) for you to bear in mind.

The Portfolio

Every business will have a trademark portfolio. This will comprise of everything from registered trademarks, marks or symbols which are in use but not yet registered, acquired trademarks through licenses, co-branding agreements with other companies and also domain names which include the trade name or trademark within it. Creating a family of trademarks and trade names will help create a stronger brand but can also strengthen the protection afforded that brand.

Brand Planning And Management

Securing rights as early as possible is always highly recommended. On that note, it is important to budget accordingly because registering a trademark in every country around the world can be both expensive and also impractical for a small-to-medium enterprises (SME) or early stage businesses. The strategy is to carefully consider which jurisdictions from a sales and marketing prospective are key to your business, conduct the necessary availability searches and register a trademark to perfect your brand in that territory as soon as it is practically possible.

An important note in managing your trademarks is also ensuring that they are used, or you risk them being revoked.

Enforcement 

Keeping on top of a trademark portfolio does not mean just registering them. To increase and maximize the value in a trademark, a certain amount of maintenance is involved. This includes actively monitoring the use of your mark and actively policing your trademark with cease and desist and take down notices when you see that it is being used without authorization. A good way to police you trademark is to monitor competitor activities and trademark applications which are published in trademark journals. To do this, you may want to invest in a brand watch service which can help protect your trademarks in the most efficient way possible by bringing to attention any issues that arise as they come.

Given the online nature of most business, a good way to enforce your rights in your domain names is to make sure that you have a registered trademark and that name is contained in your domain name.

Azrights has helped many SMEs and ambitious entrepreneurs to help secure their rights, commercialize their brands and enforce their IP rights. Visit our trademark registration, trademark search, trademark disputes and brand protection services pages to see how we may help to implement an efficient and cost effective strategy for you. Alternatively, contact us and speak with one of our specialist team members to see how we can help in your brand planning.