Counterfeiting remains problematic worldwide despite increased awareness, so what is brand protection? And how does it fit into a business’s anti-counterfeit strategy? The answers depend on how a company wants to protect intellectual property from criminals.
One school of thought is to safeguard the brand as well as secure the actual products themselves, but what are the benefits of this approach? Does it actually work to defend against counterfeiting, or are there other reasons why brand protection is a requisite capability? We’ll outline the answers throughout this post to give you a clear idea of why your company can’t wait another day to begin safeguarding your brand in addition to physical goods.
Brand protection definition
The definition of brand protection is pretty straightforward. It’s a collection of activities and processes you undergo to ensure that your company suffers minimal damage due to counterfeiting. Whether you want to defend a trademark online and battle rogue websites, success requires a concerted strategy and sound technological capabilities to detect and mitigate incidents. But today, brand protection entails more nuance than in years past when lawsuits and publicity were sufficient to expose counterfeiters. Essentially, protecting your brand has two sides to the equation: the brand owner and the consumer who gets tricked into believing a product is genuine.
Two sides of the equation – Brand owners and consumers
Regarding the potential impact on brand owners, fake products can severely damage a company’s reputation if the problem is persistent and consumers perceive that the business doesn’t care about their needs. Blatant infringement of intellectual property (IP) is only the start. When counterfeits start to have a reasonable amount of success, they’ll only escalate their crimes. Patents are a good start, yet counterfeiters simply don’t care about infringing your rights because that’s their core business model. Likewise, the situation for consumers is problematic too.
When consumers buy inauthentic products, they don’t realize that they’ve been duped until something goes wrong. For instance, a consumer might believe they purchased a legitimate medical device, but after a short while, the device malfunctions because it’s fake. In this case, counterfeiting can be a safety hazard – and potentially life-threatening in a worst-case scenario. Not only do consumers ultimately overpay for substandard quality, but they’ll also stop trusting that the brand in question cares about fighting counterfeiters, which leads us to our next point.
Types of brand abuse
Indeed, counterfeits in the global market cause real damage to companies and ordinary people, but is all counterfeiting similar? The surprising answer is that there are many different ways in which fraudsters ply their illicit trade. Often, they can successfully fool consumers by simply abusing the brand and not necessarily manufacturing completely fraudulent products. These activities take several forms, but they mostly boil down to copyright abuse, particularly the trademark. Why? What makes a trademark worth faking?
A trademark can be a simple logo or a few words that signify your business for some companies. Thus, criminals only have to fake that information instead of going through the complex machinations necessary to fabricate the products themselves. Today, brand impersonation remains just as problematic, even though it’s a relatively simple con. It could be something as rudimentary as spam social media accounts, or it can be something more severe like fully-functioning rogue websites. As such, brand protection services arose to provide businesses with a viable, comprehensive defense.
Types of brand protection services
The good news is that you’re not helpless against counterfeiting. You have options for brand protection services, but the catch is that they’re not all equally as effective at stopping counterfeits. Some of them do well at pinpointing fake products, yet results still vary company-to-company. Detection is step one; however, what about prevention? It’s one thing to identify when a product is inauthentic; stopping them from entering the global market is another challenge entirely. At a minimum, a brand protection service should also include accurate reporting on top of the ability to capture vital data, sometimes in near real-time.
Consequences of counterfeiting
Having said that, the next question is this: what are the actual consequences of failing to stop criminals? The problem is that this query isn’t so easy to answer because you first need to quantify the extent of the issue before analyzing the consequences. For instance, you might notice a dip in sales before you anticipate them to fall off, but is this a normal cycle? After all, consumers aren’t robots, and their buying behaviors vary widely. Or, does it suggest that fake products are devouring your sales figures?
Furthermore, how do you quantify the damage to your business’s reputation among consumers? Do you look for an increased number of complaints, or, perhaps, a higher number of returned items? In the previous era of anti-counterfeiting, filing lawsuits may have deterred further counterfeiting, but in our modern-day, suits are minimally effective at preventing fake goods from entering the market, if at all. Simply put, criminals are bolder and more daring than they’ve ever been.
Protect your brand with minimum safeguards
Essentially, the minimum safeguards like consumer education and lawsuits don’t stop counterfeiters. In a digitally connected world, it’s easy for a criminal to work out of another country that may or may not be friendly to IP laws. You can identify the problem, but you can’t sue someone sitting across the planet making rogue websites. You can report them to local law enforcement, but the damage has already occurred. Technology helps, yet you have to implement it correctly to get the most benefit. Still, can technology play a more prominent part? We believe so at AlpVision, so here are a few words about why tech is more vital than in previous eras.
Protect your brand with technology
Never underestimate the sophistication of fraudsters and cybercriminals. They literally wake up every day and think about how to fool companies and consumers – and they never stop. Counterfeiters are persistent and advanced con artists, so the brand protection system you deploy needs to account for those facts. It’s a stereotype to view professional criminals as dumb and easily tricked. Essentially, you’re the one who’s easy to con, not the fraudster.
As a solution, you can use better, more advanced tech than counterfeiters to stay one step ahead. You can use tech to authenticate products as well as capture and analyze vital statistics in a turnkey solution, so with those considerations in mind; we develop a new system to build out a complete brand protection strategy: AlpVision’s Brand Monitoring System (BMS).
AlpVision Brand Monitoring System
Global enterprises require global solutions that integrate into their current IT infrastructure. As such, we designed AlpVision BMS to be a server-based web application, allowing brand owners to monitor activity online, collect counterfeit statistics, and authentic products when the system flags potential incidents. That’s how the system works at a high level, but AlpVision BMS provides additional safeguards as well concerning brand protection.
Not only can our BMS solution help you identify counterfeit wares, but it will also integrate seamlessly with our other systems, such as AlpVision Fingerprint and Cryptoglyph. Still, if you have a custom architecture, our brand monitoring software can also combine well with other tools, including secure QR codes, 2-D dot matrices, or something more covert.
Either way, the ideal solution should be able to authenticate stats and collect them while providing real-time alerts. Indeed, AlpVision’s BMS process provides secure encryption, which allows you to receive real-time information and notifications from any part of the world. With our online brand protection system, you can finally take control and minimize the damage to IP and other infringements.
If you’d like to learn more specifics about the benefits of AlpVision BMS in combination with additional defenses,download our latest white paper to read about why you can’t wait any longer to safeguard your brand