There are far too many possible scenarios through which a brand’s intellectual property rights could be abused or infringed upon. Some are small-scale, possibly negligible, and others may threaten to destroy the growth, progress, and overall success of the business.
For example, a big company running a massive followership on Instagram may have one loyalist set up an unauthorized fan page out of genuine love. The fan page proceeds to garner a considerably large following by reposting content from the brand’s main page. They also never pretend to be the actual owners of the business, sell items, or divert customers. The page was created entirely to promote love and draw attention to the business. However, they are using content without permission, not giving due credits to the original business, and while they are not hurting the brand, this kind of behavior should not be encouraged.
To solve the problem and not lose a solid following of loving fans, the business owners privately send a gently-toned yet firm letter to the fan page’s administrators, instructing them to always credit content to the original brand and also appreciating their efforts at promoting the business. This fan page complies, and the issue is solved.
However, a more problematic situation turns up when a fan page begins to run a side business off the reputation of the main brand. They are selling a wide variety of their own merch designed with the brand’s logos and ideas, running ads on the page, and diverting a significant cut of the customer pool. They’ve become parasitic and would probably cause the business to lose a chunk of revenue.
The problem is solved with the deployment of a full-on brand protection strategy, beginning with the removal or deletion of the page by Instagram, collation of evidence against the page’s administrator, and a prosecution process to secure a compensating payment from the culprit to the original brand.
The cases above are two different IP rights infringement scenarios handled with different scale-suitable strategies. Essentially, you don’t exactly need to bring a gun to a knife fight or vice versa. Coming up with an enforcement or protection plan might be a bit tricky for many entrepreneurs, and so, below are a few considerations to keep in mind.
The nature of the problem
As described above in the example cases, a simple letter could totally solve one infringement case while in another, a full-blown court case spanning through several months would be the only option. It all depends on the nature of the problem – how serious or minor was the infringement on your IP rights? A culprit that’s merely using your brand’s special hashtags and another that’s counterfeiting your merchandise for sale couldn’t possibly be handled with the same approach. The severity of the infringement largely determines what plan to be deployed.
Generally, a product deployment manager, anti-counterfeiting representative, or HR manager –depending on the size of the organization – could work with a legal advisor to draw up notices and cease-and-desist letters for simple cases. On the other hand, a business might have to outsource its entire brand protection department to an external service. For larger businesses with considerable visibility, this is best done before the situation arises or gets out of hand.
Handling within or outsourcing
This decision depends on the size of your business and of course, the nature of any issues that may already be in play. Sometimes, a brand may not exactly have the resources or capability to internally handle or dispel IP rights abuse issues. Consider connecting with a company that specializes in brand protection. For many businesses, this may not be the most budget-friendly or cost-effective plan – outsourcing usually costs a lot of money.
However, at AXENCIS, the smart brand protection plan is deployed by our team of expert investigators using our brand-developed, monitoring and surveillance software to scan all major online marketplaces for infringements. We constantly monitor the web and run background checks on possible infringement cases for verification, prior to the full take-down and prosecution procedures. We also secure substantial compensations for our clients through the seizure of the culprits’ assets. All our services are rendered free of charge to the client, totally free of any hidden costs as our operational fees are covered from a percentage of the seized assets.
Not every outsourced service would deplete your revenue. For example, AXENCIS works to help you reclaim it.
It’s important to consider the possible impacts of IP rights enforcement on an existing fan base or customer pool. Referring back to the case of fan pages, if the community is not necessarily malignant to the progress of the company, a forceful approach might just cause the company to lose a significant number of loyalists. In this case, a diplomatic approach is wiser. Recall that this fan page is actually drawing attention and loyalty to your business – taking nothing for itself. Harshly uprooting them would most likely turn out to be counter-productive.
When it comes to intellectual property problems, they are not exactly situations you can simply wish away. It’s important to always be ready for the worst because the larger a business grows, the more likely it is to be bothered by antics from people looking to tap into its success. Any strategy being implemented in the present should have some solid plans for preventing infringement cases in the future and protecting the brand in the long term.