10 Ways to Fight Online Counterfeiters

Sep 8, 2011

Topic: Policy

Ten things you can do now to protect your brand from online counterfeiters:

  1. Register and record your trademarks. Only then can U.S. and Chinese customs officials enforce your trademark rights. For more reasons on why this is good business, read related article.
  2. On-product holograms. Consider imprinting holograms and other hard-to-counterfeit marks on your products to facilitate the intellectual property rights (IPR) protection efforts of customs and other law enforcement agencies.
  3. Educate your customers. Deckers Outdoor Corp.’s UGG® Australia brand and Canada Goose have set up counterfeit education pages online. The UGG website provides hints on how to detect counterfeit goods, how to verify a website selling counterfeit goods through a “look-up” function and refers consumers to authorized dealers, while Canada Goose explains the financial and health risks of buying counterfeit goods, provides an email address for reporting suspicious sites and lists sites known to have sold counterfeit products.
  4. Educate warranty and returns department. Make sure these employees are able to detect counterfeits and have a plan on how to respond to customers who have purchased bogus product.
  5. Register with eBay’s VeRO Program. IPR owners who register through the Verified Rights Owner Program can work more effectively with eBay to remove infringing items and listings, suspend repeat offenders and even secure information on alleged infringers. More than 5,000 owners have registered for the program, including Crocs Inc., Descente Athletic, Easton Sports Inc., Quiksilver Inc., Sole Technology Inc., Specialized Bicycle Components Inc., Spyder Active Sports Inc. and UGG.
  6. Make “trap purchases.” Make purchases from sites you suspect are selling counterfeits of your products so you have evidence for future civil action or investigation by law enforcement authorities.
  7. Involve compliance auditors. The overwhelming majority of counterfeit goods are produced in China. Make sure your factory auditors are checking for surplus patterns, labels, fabric and other signs your partner may be shipping unauthorized product out the back door.
  8. Institute an enforcement program through the civil courts. The North Face® has successfully used this approach to help fund its enforcement efforts, identify the sources and learn about their mode of operation, and hold third parties responsible for their part in enabling the online counterfeiters.
  9. Refer case to feds. Once you’ve completed a trap purchase, report a violation of your intellectual property rights to the National IPR Coordination Center. While it cannot investigate all reports, the center will respond to your inquiry within two weeks.   
  10. Support law enforcement. Lobby for adequate funding for IPR enforcement at the local, state and federal level. IPR was one of only two programs at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to receive increased funding in fiscal 2012, but the staff is stretched thin and all federal agencies remain vulnerable to budget cuts.

To learn more about how you can get involved and support OIA’s effort to combat Internet counterfeiting, contact Alex Boian, director of trade policy at 303.327.3509.