As e-Commerce grows, so should brand protection

7. March 2022

By Laura Lemos. Anti-counterfeiting Lawyer.

The Covid-19 pandemic impact has, for the most part, pushed society to move further online than ever before.  Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest industries impacted was retail. The result, is an exponential growth of e-commerce, from new businesses, customers, to new product types.

In 2020, while there was an overall decline in retail sales globally, online sales grew by more than 20% worldwide, compared to that of 2019. According to recent data, the pandemic accelerated the shift from physical to online stores by about five years.

The digital space became a great alternative for businesses to continue operating despite the restrictions and obstacles that the pandemic has brought. As a consequence of this premature growth, companies have had to invest in digital much faster than originally planned, both to adapt to the new online environment and to survive in the fragile scenario.

Although the pandemic has highlighted the importance of an online presence and digital technologies, it has also revealed several vulnerabilities regarding abuse of the online environment and the rise of illegal trade and counterfeiting.

Counterfeiters reacted with lightning speed to the crisis, expanding their focus to new online platforms and adapting their strategies to take advantage of the shifting landscape. Online marketplaces and social media have become important sources of income for criminal groups involved in the sale of counterfeit and pirated products.

It is a fact that counterfeiting is a phenomenon that evolves significantly with the advent of better technologies. Therefore, the counterfeit on the online market has been a growing threat to IP owners as the infringers have become more sophisticated in their approaches.

In order to entice consumers, infringers have been using the same marketing tools and best practices for online sales as legitimate sellers. As most common practices, they misuse third-party trademarks through paid search ads, SEO (search engine optimization), domain names, as well as in sale titles and descriptions.

In the absence of effective protection, counterfeiting may seriously damage the profitability of the business, with harmful impacts on their financial performance, reputation, and customer trust. Consequently, brand owners have been forced to react.

The current scenario suggests that businesses should be concerned to expand their investments to build a holistic approach that incorporates comprehensive online brand protection. To that effect, online brand protection services are very important to build solid strategic management in the digital environment.

Nowadays, there are alternative surveillance tools that allow trademark owners to obtain valuable information regarding the virtual performance of their mark online and fight intellectual property rights infringements. These tools can work to scan, monitor, detect, and takedown infringements on the web, automatically.

The experience in providing this service has shown us that having the right enforcement tools is a good start. It has proven to be an effective alternative in preventing all forms of infringement of IP rights online and providing its owners with the possibility to proactively enforce their rights against infringers.

In this unprecedented time, while counterfeiting in the physical world is an age-old reality, the massive growth of sales in the online environment has impacted the landscape of intellectual property protection that poses multi-layered challenges for IP owners to operate on online platforms.

As e-commerce and online sales continue to grow, the need for vigilant enforcement by companies is of the utmost importance and requires a unique online approach.

Developing and implementing mechanisms that support brand protection in online businesses can make the difference between a reputable brand and a not so reputable brand, the right brand protection strategy is not only important for a brand’s positioning and profile, but also on financial returns and how a brand is perceived in terms of the level of prestige and reputation.


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