How Brands Can Protect Themselves on Craigslist
“Craigslist, as an internet service provider, is immune from liability unless it knows or has reason to know that goods are counterfeit.”—Maurice Ross, New York Intellectual Property Law Attorney
Past posts addressed what brands can do to fight counterfeiting on eBay and protect their brand on Alibaba. Similar to the challenges that these online marketplaces face with volume of listings, there are more than 1.5 million new ads posted to Craigslist daily.
Although knock-offs are prohibited items on Craigslist, it’s impossible for this online portal to effectively safeguard against counterfeiting, meaning that brands need to take an active role in policing their brand online.
Brand owners who believe that their intellectual property has been infringed upon should contact a Craigslist representative.
The webpage related to infringement claims directs intellectual property owners to notify a Craigslist agent about suspicious listings by email at email@example.com or via fax. However, Craigslist is mostly automated, as such email sent to this address receives an automated-response with information on further action brands can take, most of which is not relevant to steps that brands may take to report counterfeiters.
The part of the automatic email response that relates to reporting counterfeits states that listings with prohibited items, or other items that are believed to violate Craigslist guidelines, can be flagged by clicking the link marked ‘prohibited’ which appears on every listing.
Anyone can flag a post regardless of whether they are the brand owner or not. Flagging can even be done anonymously, without having to sign in.
Once it’s flagged, it may be removed by Craigslist staff, or more likely by its automated system, based on the number of times it is flagged. Only select staff at Craigslist know how many times a posting needs to be flagged before it is removed.
The second option allows trademark owners to fax Craigslist a Notice of Claims. This ensures that Craigslist knows about the infringement. The website lists the steps involved in submitting the Notice.
Essentially, brand owners need to submit a proper Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) take down notice. The Notice needs to:
- Identify the intellectual property being infringed and the material on Craigslist.
- Assert that the brand owner believes the items are infringing on its rights.
- State that the brand representative is the trademark owner or is authorized to act as an agent of the owner.
- Include contact information and signature, and be faxed to Craigslist at 415-504-6394.
Brands should keep proof that the document has been faxed to Craigslist in the event that further contact is required.
Private investigators can work with brands to catch counterfeiters and bring legal action against the infringers. Investigators are experienced at identifying counterfeiters and gathering evidence, including the ability to set-up buys and conduct covert surveillance. They are also able to work with lawyers and local police to seize knock-off items and prove cases in court.
Photo Source: Flickr