As a brand holder for a small company, it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to counterfeits and knock-offs. It’s tempting to tell yourself that bad actors are too busy chasing the big corporations to waste their time with smaller organizations.
While that may have been true before, advances in technology and the availability of cheap manufacturing and the emergence of affordable 3-D printers, means anyone can fall victim to IP theft, regardless of size. It’s estimated that the global economy loses over $350 billion dollars in sales to counterfeit goods each year.
Luckily, there are a few simple steps brand holders can take to ensure a basic level of protection. Here are our five tips on how to protect your brand:
- Get registered: The first step you need to take to ensure your brand is protected is to properly register it by applying for a trademark. In the United States, businesses gain trademark protection as soon as they start using the mark in commercial use. While this protection is considered common law trademark, it’s also a good idea to officially register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Having it officially registered provides additional legal protection not afforded to common law protection. For additional detail concerning trademarks and how to help keep them safe, see 5 Ways to Keep Your Trademark Safe.
- Cover All Your (E)-Bases: It’s always a good idea to purchase any domains that are related to your brand or business as it reduces the likelihood of a bad actor creating a confusingly similar website. With the relatively low cost of domain names, this is a simple way to help keep your brand, and consumers safe.
- Socialize: Much like purchasing all brand related domains, it’s a good idea to secure all social media accounts that could be associated with your brand. Not only will this prevent bad actors from opening their own social media accounts using your brand, but it’s a great way to engage your customers. For more information about counterfeiting and how to protect your brand on social media, check out, Counterfeiting and Social Media.
- Brand Identification Guide: By creating an easy to read guide to your products, you can help your customers identify the difference between your authentic goods and an inauthentic knock-off. It’s also a good idea to include lists of authorized partners and/or resellers so your customers know where to go and who to trust when they want to purchase.
- Rewards: Customer loyalty can be a powerful tool in the fight against counterfeits. Reward customers who notify you of products and sellers using your brand without permission.
While there is no perfect way to make ensure your IP is 100% safe, staying vigilant and being proactive may be the most effective way to handle bad actors looking to make a quick buck off your hard work online.
To see exactly how your IP is being used online and by whom, request an exclusive Digital Risk Assessment today!