We are living in one of the most prolific times of human history – technological advancement has been one of the biggest gifts to mankind. While we owe a lot to it, we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that this development also becomes a nightmare to brands at this time. While the growth in technology has given brands an opportunity to create a place for themselves easily and increased their reach by blurring geographical limitations, it has also created the problem of brands maintaining their identity and authenticity both off and online. This has a lead to a situation the issue of brand protection has now been brought to the fore.
Brand Protection in the simplest sense of the term implies the process of preventing someone from illegally making and selling products using a brand name owned by another company. It is about enacting and implementing robust strategies to safeguard a brand from infringers and malicious entities. Brand Protection is aimed at preventing the misuse of brands, avoiding defamatory attacks and intellectual property violations. It is paramount to prevent the loss of revenue to a brand, and also to protect its reputation, so as to retain its brand value.
Understanding Brand Abuse
Prevention of brand abuse is the primary purpose of Brand Protection. Brand abuse is encapsulated in a slew of malicious offline and online activities that are channeled towards marring the image of the brand, its trademark, or Intellectual Property in one form or the other. In order for companies to safeguard their brand reputation as well as customers’ experience, they need to take the activities of checking brand abuse seriously.
Types of Brand Abuse
There are hosts of ways for criminals to practice brand abuse. Some of those ways are:
Counterfeiting – If a report by the International Chamber of Commerce is to be believed, the Global Counterfeiting Industry is to skyrocket to $4.2 trillion by 2022. Counterfeiting is imitating of brand products and producing them illegally by external actors. The counterfeiters make use of the logos and trademarks of the original brand unofficially, and duping customers with exciting offers into buying them. It is a form of Intellectual Property infringement, wherein the counterfeiters target the trademarks of the authentic brand and not only cause losses to the original brand, but also tarnish its image and reputation.
Gray Market – Gray Market is another impediment towards brand protection. Gray Market signifies the sales of original products without the brand’s permission. It is a trade of commodities through distribution channels that have not been authorized by the original manufacturer. This is also a form of trademark infringement, where the logo and other properties of the brand are used illegally. Most of the time, these original goods being sold in authorised channels are diverted or stolen from the distribution chain.
Spoofed Websites – There are a host of websites created with the intent of malice against an authorised company or by infringing its Internet Protocol. These websites cause great harm to the original brand through ways that include Cybersquatting, Typosquatting, and Imitation Sites. Cybersquatting is the act of claiming domain names in order to take advantage of other brands’ trademarks. Typosquatting is relying on internet users making typing mistakes in the address of other websites, while Imitation sites are websites that attempt to pass themselves off as the website of an existing authentic brand by imitating the name and design of the original’s website.
Patent Theft- Patent is the legal protection provided to innovative products that provide a novel solution to an existing problem. Inventors are provided with patent protection, which prevents others from profiting from their invention without the due authorisation. Patent theft off late has become one of the most popular ways of brand abuse that often creates a nightmarish situation for brands.
Copyright Piracy – We are aware of copyright which is granted to creators of artistic, literary, and scientific works. We regularly come across photographs and videos that are posted online without the consent of the artist, music shared without the knowledge of the creator, or someone’s research used without their permission. All these counts for copyright infringement and indulging in any such activities amount to copyright piracy.
Social Media Impersonifiaction – This is the latest form of brand abuse which entails unofficial third parties creating social media accounts imitating genuine brands and using these counterfeited accounts to sell fake products in the name of the brand, direct users to phishing pages, and sometimes even to share malware.
Brand abuse can happen through different channels like illegal physical markets and shops, websites, social media, mobile applications, marketplaces among others. To protect the value and integrity of a brand and stop their abuse, Brand Protection is of utmost importance. In the absence of a proper brand protection strategy, the negative impact on a brand can be dire.
The Need for Impactful Brand Protection Strategy
Unscrupulous people are lurking to take advantage of brands, both new and existing. In the wake of that, the importance of an effective Brand Protection strategy is unquestionable. Brand Protection is a continuous process that does not end, it is therefore important to have an efficient and impactful one in order to significantly reduce the headache. Some of the recommended measures include taking legal action against direct misuse of assets, removing plagiarized content from websites abusing the brand’s name, taking extra precaution to safeguard copyright, trademark, and intellectual property, ensuring stringent action against brand impersonation on social media, keeping consumers educated about the brand, implementing minimum advertised price policy, allowing only authorised dealers to sell products, constantly evolving and making changes in product and services, combatting identity and credit theft with anti-malware software, and ultimately making use of state-of-the-art technology to nip the issue in the bud.
Benefits of Brand Protection
The harmful effects of brand abuse are many. This makes it imperative to prevent them. By taking steps to protect your brand, you get to:
– Help your enterprise increase revenue
– Keep customers safe from buying harmful fake products
– Boost legal efficiency
– Protect the reputation of the Brand
– Safeguard customers from fraud
Brand Protection Technology
While legal actions and safety measures are quintessential, we also need to pay due credit to the role technology is playing in Brand Protection. Technology helps in the detection of multiple sources of fraud across physical and modern digital spaces. and also mitigate such abuses. There are myriad brand protection or anti-counterfeit technology tools that can help in countering brand abuse; some of them are:
Keyword Monitoring – This helps in tracking important keywords related to the product or brand that appear in product listings online.
Optical Character Recognition – This tool aids in extracting text embedded into images to avoid keyword detection.
Image Matching – This is a very effective tool that detects counterfeit products that look the same as the original but do not use the official brand name.
Logo Detection – The tool facilitates the discovery of infringements where logos have been made obscure or have been distorted to avoid enforcement.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Artificial Intelligence and Machine Language is one of the most competent tools that has gone a long way in preventing counterfeiting. And when we talk of anti-counterfeiting technology and Artificial Intelligence, there is no way we can miss the contribution of Cypheme, one of the premium and most trusted anti-counterfeiting solution providers. The use of AI has been proven to effectively protect brands and eliminate counterfeiting. Cypheme has developed anti-copy labels that make use of advanced set of algorithms powered by an artificial neutral network that helps anyone with a smartphone to verify a product’s authenticity in less than 5 seconds – the Cypheme solution is super easy to implement.
Brands have been facing abuse for very long and it is high time they used such technology as Cypheme’s to protect their brands because a brand might be offering the best of products, but counterfeiters will always be present to quickly swindle unsuspecting consumers. Afterall, your brand reputation isn’t what you make it out to be, it’s how consumers perceive the brand on the market.