Amazon is coming to Sweden, how can you protect your trademarks?
Amazon is one of the Western world’s biggest marketplaces that dominates in Central Europe, the USA and beyond. Amazon has now been launched in Sweden.
The following article is a straightforward, practical guide to the challenges you’ll face, containing some handy tips about creating and implementing your Brand Protection strategy.
Are you a business owner who wants to move beyond your own e-shop and try the Amazon marketplace approach? If so, you should first examine your Brand Protection strategy.
Common problems that trademark holders can run into in online marketplaces.
As a trademark holder, exposing your brand on online marketplaces makes it more visible to pirates and counterfeiters. These are the thieves of the day. Pirates and counterfeiters are extremely skilled at earning money through digital copyright infringement and selling fake goods online. Well-known Chinese marketplaces are the most common setting for their operations, but with the continued growth of Amazon’s marketplace their activities are becoming more and more established in the West.
There are two main piracy methods in online marketplaces:
- Counterfeit goods
- Trademark infringement
The first method concerns the kind of fake products that would earlier have been sold in large quantities in popular holiday destinations and across Asia. Stricter regulations have obstructed counterfeiters somewhat, and forced them to move production of fake goods from Asia to Europe – evading laws and devoting themselves to selling online.
The second method involves making references to a brand name in the headline of a listing for a product. The logic behind this is that online marketplaces, just like Google, have search engines that crawl through listings looking for relevant products. A recent example is the Apple watch. A pirate might headline a listing as ”Hot Fashion Digital Silicon Plane Watch Apple LED Watch”. When you click on the listing you’ll find that there isn’t an Apple watch for sale. The pirates have, in these cases, stolen traffic and at the same time used Apple’s intellectual property for illegitimate purposes2.
Why should you protect your trademarks in online marketplaces?
- Trademarks become diluted
If you don’t have a strategy against counterfeit goods, your trademark can be diluted and lose its value. If customers can easily get hold of copies of your product at a cheaper price, paying more for the original becomes less desirable.
If your trademark is used illegitimately in an advert or listing you lose your customers’ confidence in your brand, which also affects your brand’s exclusivity.
- Lost sales
If the availability of cheaper, fake products grows, it will eat into your market share. As more and more marketplaces emerge, controlling counterfeit goods has become a high priority.
- Loss of reputation
There are thousands of examples where counterfeit goods have hurt brands’ reputations.
Here are three real-life examples
- The car maker Aston Martin recalled 17,000 cars when they discovered that a Chinese sub-supplier had used counterfeit plastic parts in the accelerator pedals of their vehicles2.
- In Great Britain in 2015, counterfeit versions of cosmetic products emerged, using the trademarks of MAC and Benefit, among others. These were found to contain up to 200 times the recommended safe levels of a number of chemicals, including arsenic, lead, mercury, copper and cadmium (2)
- In 2012 more than 40 people were killed or injured by methanol poisoning from counterfeit vodka and rum (2)
How can you protect your trademarks in online marketplaces?
- Marketplace monitoring Monitoring works by identifying instances of your trademarks being used and flagging up cases where your trademarks might be being used illegitimately. ·
- Use of ’take-downs’ One of the most important parts of an e-commerce Brand Protection strategy relates to executing systematic ‘take-downs’, that eliminate listings that are considered infringements.
Do you have plans to launch a product on Amazon? Don’t hesitate to contact us! Our experts can help with consultation and execution of a Brand Protection strategy as a preventive way to protect your digital assets.
(2) Brand Protection in the Online World, 2017