With Valentine's Day approaching, many prepare ahead of time by hatching plans to surprise a loved one.
(Many of you may not have thought about it yet, don't leave it to the last minute!)
Even if you aren’t prepared well ahead of time, counterfeiters and bad actors will be.
"What do you mean by that, Liz?"
Well, a spike in activity (commercial activity, mind you!) offers bad actors the opportunity to capitalise...
So in this week's post, I want to talk to you about what to look out for and how to stop it from affecting your special day and bottom line.
The heart of the problem
Did you know that trade in fakes amounted to 3.3% of all global trade in 2019?
The OECD has some fascinating statistics on this which you can read here.
Certain types of goods find themselves in the firing line more than others.
Watches, clothing, shoes, handbags and accessories and jewellery find themselves oft-imitated.
These are all goods which, of course, are often gifted on Valentine's Day.
And a seasonal uptick in interest in a deal precipitates an uptick in bad actors seeking to siphon off business.
But all this goes beyond "Channel" handbags and dodgy Eau de Cologne...
That sinking feeling
Gone are the days of dark alley deals and knock offs falling from the back of lorries.
The key here is "sophistication", as businesses need to be aware of the lengths copycats now go to grab your cash.
(Whether you're looking for something for your other half or it's your business they're ripping off!)
Things to be aware of include:
Social network selling
One of the first places to grab people's attention (and access to their wallets) is on social media.
As we know from looking at our feeds, brands and offers can appear and disappear overnight.
Bad actors take advantage of this, knowing that they can make a quick buck and run before anyone notices!
Whilst social media is getting better at IP protection, it is important for brands to keep a watch over what pops up - especially at key times of the year.
Whilst social media is where all of the attention is nowadays... good old fashioned websites work just as well - and can be here today, gone tomorrow in the exact same way.
Websites like these, however, will typically need bad actors to set up websites with domain names that pass the "eye test".
This is to say, that at a glance they look and feel like the real deal.
For this reason, brands in the affected goods and services need to keep a keen eye on domains to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Whilst sophisticated bad actors often go for the "easy mark", those that add friction fare better against them.
Another sneaky trick that bad actors can employ is "keyword highjacking".
This means is that in paid search, terms relating to an authentic product, (e.g. "Hermès Birkin Bag") are hijacked and used to redirect interest to knock-offs.
In many cases, this could constitute trade mark infringement - but it is a tactic that is all too common.
Finally, online marketplaces will see a massive uptick in opportunists on their platforms.
This will again include bad actors looking to ride the wave of interest around Valentine's goods.
The main platforms such as Amazon and eBay have implemented robust brand protection measures.
However, the sheer increase in volume will mean a high alert for brands.
Furthermore, lesser-known or trusted platforms will likely have a range of "too good to be true" deals on knock-offs - which will be precisely that!
Doing it right
So, if you're looking for something to treat a loved one with - beware of the tricks listed above. That way you're sure to avoid disappointing on the 14th of February.
And if you're a brand owner looking to secure your goods before the big day - we can help.
Social media monitoring
Domain name watching and defensive strategy
Online marketplace monitoring
And (most importantly)…
Securing your brands as trade marks
We are ready and willing to provide you with the assistance you need.
Do not hesitate to get in touch.
Hope you have a fantastic weekend!
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