Navigating the Online Brand Protection Maze: Tips for Defining a Strategy Right for Your Brand
In today's ever-evolving digital landscape, brands are confronted with a multifaceted challenge: how to strategically expand their online sales while safeguarding their reputation and consumer trust from the clutches of malicious actors. If your brand is struggling with how to hone in on the geographies that are most impactful and how to systematically tackle the truly disruptive counterfeiters, infringers, and other disruptors, Vorys eControl encourages you to consider the following steps.
1. Understanding the Current Landscape
With the exponential growth of e-commerce platforms and other online channels such as websites and social media, the avenues for brand exposure and nefarious sales have widened. Industry statistics reveal that instances of counterfeit products, trademark infringement, and unauthorized sellers are consistently on the rise, posing a significant threat to brand authenticity.
The first step is to conduct a comprehensive landscape assessment, dissecting the extent of the problems your brand faces across different channels and geographies. This assessment serves as the foundation upon which your protection strategies will be built. Vorys eControl can generate a “Brand Exposure Report” which provides visibility about where and how your brand is at risk on key global sites. To request a complimentary report, click here.
2. Assessing Your IP Portfolio
Once your brand understands the current assessment, the brand should evaluate its intellectual property (IP) to ensure that it has the necessary registrations and other protections to leverage on the online marketplaces and other online forums.
This is where having a creative attorney who is also well-versed in online platforms becomes key, as there are certain IP assets to consider adding to your IP portfolio depending on the specific online forum's reporting and takedown procedures. For example, on Amazon there are specific IP asset considerations for trademarks, trade dress, utility patents, design patents, and copyrights given the unique reporting tools and expedited IP proceedings Amazon offers. (Link here to Vorys eControl Piece Are You Crafting Your IP Portfolio with an Eye Towards Leveraging Enforcement Tools on Amazon?) If helpful elements are missing from your IP portfolio, brands can often pursue additional registrations and protections in tandem with #3 below.
3. Crafting a Monitoring Program Aligned with Your Goals
This is where your brand will need to make some strategic decisions about balancing efforts between propelling sales growth on key marketplaces and ensuring your brand is protected more broadly online. By pinpointing the areas where brand protection efforts yield optimal results, you can maximize the impact of your resources and hone in on what is most impactful for your business.
For most brands, this entails a resource commitment of (a) monitoring and leveraging the right data and (b) brand analyst hours (working under attorney direction) to address the truly disruptive infringements. Together, these resources will enable the brand to remove the disruptions in order of impact and priority.
4. Precision Enforcement Strategies: A Holistic Approach
The days of whack-a-mole enforcement options are officially over. Platform submissions can serve as a cost-effective means to address issues, strategically allocating resources where they are most needed. But, to combat brand threats effectively, a qualified legal team experienced in handling online infringements is indispensable. Tailoring enforcement tactics to specific activities is a game changer. Distinguishing between using platform submissions and direct infringer contact enables you to tackle problems with surgical precision. This evaluation process also extends to entering new geographies and channels – a strategic decision that demands careful consideration.
5. An Integrated Solution for Impactful Results
Beyond enforcement, maintaining distribution control, robust IP reporting, stringent authorized seller program adherence, and cutting off the sources of infringement form a multi-pronged approach to safeguarding your brand.
Harnessing an integrated solution is the key to striking the delicate balance between sales growth and brand protection. This holistic approach entails leveraging multiple levers simultaneously to fortify your brand's online presence.
To gauge the effectiveness of your efforts, specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) become essential. Tracking impact saturation, compliance rates, and the reduction of infringement incidents offers valuable insights into the progress of your brand protection strategies.
As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the challenge of preserving brand trust while achieving sales growth becomes increasingly complex. By aligning your brand protection program with your business goals, adopting precision enforcement strategies, and embracing an integrated approach, you can navigate this intricate maze with confidence.
To discuss Vorys eControl's unique and effective approach to brand protection, please reach out to Vorys eControl's Chief Brand Solutions Officer Malia Ladd at firstname.lastname@example.org or Vorys eControl partner Adam Sherman at email@example.com.