26 July 2023 • 3 min read
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In our consumer-driven world, businesses must invest vast amounts of money, time, and creativity into building products and brands that stand out from the clutter. It can take years for a product or brand to win the consumers’ trust regarding quality, safety, and service. This is precisely why the Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List is essential to your business.
Unfortunately, all this work can come undone. How? With counterfeit goods and pirated products infiltrating online and physical markets. These could be substandard products, fraudulent services, or stolen intellectual property. This is especially dangerous in a growing digital economy.
Consumers that use these counterfeit products are banking on the standards of an established brand or creator. They end up having bad, sometimes even harmful, experiences. This can irreparably damage all the trust a product or brand has built.
Big businesses can usually absorb such attacks on their credibility. But as a small business, you can’t always do the same. This makes counterfeit goods and piracy significant threats. These could hurt your business’s reputation and alienate customers. Sometimes they can also lead to lengthy and costly litigation battles.
It’s bigger than you can imagine. The volume of international trade in counterfeit and pirated products amounts to USD 464 billion annually. That’s 2.5% of world trade, according to reports from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
To combat this, The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) releases an annual “Notorious Markets List” (NML). This highlights online and physical markets that facilitate substantial trademark counterfeiting. These players reportedly engage in, turn a blind eye to, or benefit from significant piracy or counterfeiting.
This is aimed at helping governments and the private sector to take more focused action to reduce counterfeiting and piracy.
These plans will play out on a larger, national, and international scale. But what can you, as a small business owner, do to protect yourself against such threats?
One of the easiest ways to secure your product is to ensure you get a trademark, patent, or copyright. You should register these with the national regulatory authority in your country (e.g., USPTO for the USA) right from the start. This will ensure that you are fully protected legally in case of infringement.
What is a weapon in the hands of counterfeiters could well be a shield in yours. Use anti-counterfeiting technologies such as RFID tags, NFC chips, and QR codes to help authenticate your products.
Invest time and resources to regularly sweep your target markets physically, virtually, or via social media. This will ensure that there aren’t any fake goods floating around, silently doing some damage to your brand. If you notice any, you should report it immediately.
Your loyal customers are your greatest assets. Communicate with them regularly and clearly. Use product descriptions, disclaimers, and marketing campaigns. Encourage them to come to you with any concerns or suspicions. Also, ensure they can contact you quickly and easily to report any counterfeits they may encounter in the market.
These tips will go a long way in helping you combat the threat of counterfeit and pirated products. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure the safety of your product and brand.
Be vigilant, use all available resources, and seek legal assistance from an attorney if required.
You’ll be rewarded with a brand that can stand its own against competition and counterfeit and pirated goods.
Piracy refers to the use, duplication, distribution, or sale of a copyrighted work without permission from the copyright owner. Piracy is usually related to movies, music, books, or other copyrighted works.
On the other hand, counterfeit refers to goods manufactured to mimic or look similar to an original product and intentionally sold as the original.
A notorious market is a website or physical market which facilitates or engages in large-scale intellectual property infringement.
Counterfeit goods have usually not passed through the same vigorous safety checks as legitimate products. This makes them very dangerous. For instance, fake medicines, food, and beverage products, or cosmetics can cause severe and even fatal damage by using cheaper ingredients to cut manufacturing costs.
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Amrusha is a versatile professional with over 12 years of experience in journalism, broadcast news production, and media consulting. Her impressive career includes collaborating extensively with prominent global enterprises. She garnered recognition for her exceptional work in producing acclaimed shows for Bloomberg, a renowned business news network. Notably, these shows have been incorporated into the esteemed curriculum of Harvard Business School. Amrusha's expertise also encompassed a 4-year tenure as a consultant at Omidyar Network, a leading global impact investing firm. In addition, she played a pivotal role in the launch and content strategy management of the startup Live History India.
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