INDUSTRY SERVICES MONTH: Protecting brands, licences and reputations

Neil Miller, Director at Commercial Security International (CSi) explains the importance of protecting your brand against infrigement and counterfeit and offers advice on brand protection strategy...
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During a recession, when consumers are counting their pennies and criminals are looking to cash in, the market in brand infringing and counterfeit products has historically always risen.
Couple with this the dramatic growth in online auction sites and it’s fair to say it has never been so important to be on top of your Brand Protection Strategy.

At the core of any company’s Brand Protection Strategy is the perception that:

• The internet is the world’s largest market place and provides a level of perceived anonymity.

• Online auction sites are often used to sell stolen, counterfeit and grey market merchandise infringing the brand owner’s products

• Monitoring and reacting to these auctions manually is costly and resource draining.

CSi has developed an investigative software tool called WatchDog, which has successfully proven that these statements are not necessarily fact. Similarly, they do not have to be harmful to your business if the right procedures are in place.

WatchDog automatically monitors online auction listings for brand, copyright image and trade mark infringements. Officially recognised under the VeRO Programme as an eBay Compatible Application, WatchDog has automated the removal of £30 million worth of infringing items this year alone.

The growth of technology and the progression of investigative techniques increasingly enable the hunter to be as ingenious as the hunted. Criminals may feel that they are safe behind a cloud of online anonymity but our experience has taught us that greed often breeds complacency. It is thanks to this knowledge that brand owners and licensors over recent years have realised that they no longer have to write off thousands of pounds in “un-traceable” losses or lose customers through negative brand experiences. The expertise is out there to stop it and stop it now.

eBay users outside the European Union should not be selling merchandise into the EU if it was purchased in non-EU countries. WatchDog’s analysis highlights listings and sellers where non-EU currencies are being used which may indicate “grey market” activity. The system will monitor eBay users’ locations and the currency field within the body of the auction text.

Auctions matching these predetermined parameters can be automatically removed. This enables brand owners to ensure that they do not miss out on valuable income by losing out to sales of goods that are not normally available in the EU or that are typically more expensive within the EU.

Proactively limiting the availability of unofficial product means consumers have more reason to purchase your official merchandise. WatchDog can help you prevent the sale of goods which are unofficial, unauthorised or unintended by the original brand owner or licensor. It is unlikely that 500 pairs of jeans or 750 t-shirts are unwanted Christmas presents.

Professional sellers can therefore be investigated further to ensure their suppliers are reputable. The opportunity is there to easily turn Brand Protection from being a drain on company resource into a significant profit making area of the business.

The current economic climate unfortunately means that we are all looking to save money wherever we can. We are all on the lookout for ways to cut back on resource sapping procedures or areas of our business that are financially inefficient. It is for this reason above all else, that our clients take on a system like WatchDog that allows them to concentrate valuable resource elsewhere within the business.

Perhaps the best example of how WatchDog has enabled this to occur is one of our US clients. He readily admits that he has not needed to access WatchDog all year and yet boasts the removal of US$22 million of products that infringed his brands and licenses.

The fight against counterfeit and infringing sales online goes on as never before. The fight to save money and re-focus resources has seldom been more prevalent. The opportunity to eradicate unofficial product sales and thus re-direct customers to official merchandise must surely be a hugely appealing prospect to all brand owners and licensors.

If this is something that strikes a resonance with you than perhaps WatchDog is the solution you have been looking for.

For further information please contact Matt Holland at CSi on or telephone him on +44 (0) 20 7553 7960


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There are a network of service providers behind most companies to oil the wheels of the licensing business. PR, marketing, safety testing, design, recruitment, logistics and legal are just some of the areas which can be outsourced. Read on for your guide...

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