“People have been selling counterfeits online since there have been counterfeits and since there has been online commerce” —Judith Zaichkowsky, author of Counterfeiting, The Psychology Behind Trademark Infringement and Counterfeiting
Although it’s impossible to abolish the counterfeit trade, a brand can make it difficult for counterfeiters to sell its brand, which will encourage them to on to move on to another brand that’s less rigorous with their brand protection efforts.
Our recent blog post explores the problem with counterfeiting on eBay and the need for brands to protect their trademark on online marketplaces, such as eBay.
Trademark owners can take steps to effectively police their brand on eBay.
Report suspicious sellers
Every member is able to report a seller, whether they are a trademark owner or not. There is a Report button on every listing. When a member reports something on eBay, the Trust & Safety team investigates the listing.
Once reported, the Trust & Safety team contacts the seller and the listing is removed if the item is proven to be counterfeit.
The seller may be asked for information related to the photos they are posting. eBay also does a cross-matching of the listing, meaning that information is looked at in the seller’s account, such as seller history, background and how they list an item.
Normally, if the seller has only one incidence of violation, the post will simply be removed, but the account can be suspended if there are multiple infringements.
Join the VeRO program
Although anyone can report an item, there are advantages for trademark owners to join the Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) program.
An advantage of a brand joining VeRO is that the brand owner will be informed of what happens to the listing.
A Reddit member, with the username dannyirish79, who was on the fraud team at eBay for two years, stated that when brand-holders report trademark infringements, the complaint gets moved up the priority list in terms of attention.
Members of the program can submit a claim by filling out a Notice of Claimed Infringement (NOCI). eBay doesn’t have a dedicated phone number for the VeRO program, so brand owners will need to contact customer service if they have any questions about the program.
Create an About Me page
eBay allows brands to create their own page which communicates key information. It informs buyers and sellers about who you are and identifies you as the legal rights holders of your intellectual property.
It also educates consumers on how they can identify replicas, and what process to take if they suspect that a fake is being sold online.
An About Me page can also communicate information about the inferior quality of replicas and can be used as a tool to dissuade counterfeiters.
Although setting up an About Me page, such as American Apparel has done, is simple and straight forward, further action is necessary for brand protection.
Avoid taking eBay to court
Some brands have decided to go the time-consuming and expensive route of taking eBay to court.
In the case of Tiffany Inc. v. eBay, Inc., Tiffany sued eBay for trademark infringement, trademark dilution and false advertising.
Tiffany ultimately lost in appeals court where the ruling established that the online marketplace met its duty to fight fraud under trademark laws.
This case was pivotal in establishing that it’s the responsibility of trademark owners to police counterfeit items when their brands are sold in online marketplaces.
Hire a private investigator
Most brands are unfamiliar with how to legally and covertly collect information and set-up buys. That’s why it’s essential to hire a private investigation firm that has extensive experience with brand protection and online marketplaces.
In addition to gathering online intelligence, identifying counterfeits and making buys, private investigators are able to record covert video, conduct surveillance on the infringing parties and work with local police to seize counterfeit items.
The information private investigators gather can be essential for proving a case in court.
We will be publishing similar posts in the future about how trademark owners can help protect their brand on other online marketplaces, such as Alibaba and Craigslist.
Photo Source: FlickrPosted in: Counterfeiting, Current Events, Intellectual Property, K&K Private Investigators, Kusic and Kusic Ltd.