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The Doubting Thomas Syndrome: Why Most Business Owners are Caught Off-Guard by Counterfeiting Problems


“Brand protection is an extremely important yet vastly under-regarded step to business building.”

Like COVID-19, counterfeiting is one of those hard-smacking realities that people never believe could happen to them – until it does. It’s one of those things you read about online, skim through in the journals, ignore statistics in the news, and while you accept that it’s quite real and happening to other people, something this awful simply can’t happen to your business.

Well, until you perform a random search of your patented product online and find 1-100 unfamiliar listings across Amazon, Wish, and Etsy. That’s right, a hard-smacking reality. Situations like this are often attributed to a mild/benign psychological affliction – The Doubting Thomas Syndrome, characterized by the need to see, experience, or witness something to believe it.

In this case, many business owners are at major losing ends by being merely reactive to counterfeiting issues. Reports show that at least 85% of genuine businesses are affected by counterfeiting and IP rights infringement in some form, ranging from full-on brand-jacking and trademark theft to nuisances like hashtag abuse. Many small business owners are convinced that piracy only happens to the top brands, the Chanel, Gucci, Microsoft, and Adobe league. Why spend scarce startup funds and unavailable time implementing anti-counterfeiting measures when the problem doesn’t even exist? “Could it even happen to a tiny business like mine?”

Sadly, even a day-old business could fall victim to leeching piracy. Waiting to actually witness infringements on your IP rights is akin to sitting like a duck in a bullet haze. You’d be left to grow a young business with an already soured reputation. One of the many disadvantages of e-commerce globalization is the ease at which anyone can abuse other people’s trademarks from any location in the world and get away with little or no consequences. 

What to expect from an actual counterfeiting case 

Counterfeiting is one of the many forms of intellectual property abuse and it affects only product businesses (physical and software items). By Wikipedia’s definition, counterfeiting is the act of “fraudulently imitating something authentic, with the intent to steal, destroy, or replace the original, for use in illegal transactions, or otherwise to deceive individuals into believing that the fake is of equal or greater value than the real thing.”

Counterfeiting is not the same as copyright infringement – the use of copyrighted works without permission. However, many elements of trademark infringement can be found in counterfeiting. For example, a person creating fake versions of Nike’s Airforces will certainly use the company’s proprietary design and logo, even though the quality would most likely not be as excellent as Nike’s. In this case, a patent has been infringed, the logo has been abused, and a pirated product will be distributed into the online and physical markets to join the millions of Nike fakes already in circulation. If there’s one way to perfectly describe it, counterfeiting is an exhausting plague.

Here’s what to expect:

Exact copies of your products in circulation:

A counterfeiting problem generally implies that someone is recreating and possibly rebranding your product for sale. Most times, they are exact copies of your original ideas and could be so nicely executed that customers would have a hard time spotting the difference without serious inspection. Other times, they could be shameful attempts at recreation and anyone buying them would either know they are fake or accuse your brand of quality reduction.

Unwarranted complaints from customers:

This is one of the major dividends of a smeared reputation. It’s common on social media to find angry customers firing up comment sections of highly reputable businesses for suddenly selling poor-quality items. These comments are considered negative reviews and would certainly deter potential customers from patronizing these brands. Many times, angry customers unknowingly purchase counterfeit items and inevitably, the authentic brand would pay the price for a crime committed against their own business. The irony. 

It gets worse when these counterfeit products are capable of causing harm or fatalities to people. A business could be destroyed entirely when one life is lost from the consumption or use of a product bearing its trademark. In the heat of public outrage, no one would care if it’s counterfeited or not.

A decimated customer pool:

At some point in the counterfeiting cycle, it doesn’t exactly matter if the customers are intentionally buying knock-offs or they are being deceived by the culprits. The result is the same for your business: lower revenues, slashed sales, and a discouraging lack of brand loyalists. Most times, counterfeits are sold at prices far lower than the original, and sadly, for the average consumer in the currently unfavorable world economy, lower prices trump over excellent quality/durability.

Fake pages and websites springing up with your brand’s name:

Counterfeiters also need spaces to advertise their merchandise online. They build authentic-looking or crappy websites, create fake pages across social media, and dozens of listings on e-commerce marketplaces. Essentially, your brand has been hijacked.

Getting proactive

As a business owner, waiting to react to counterfeiting is one of the most counterproductive plans to deploy as a strategy. This only implies that a certain degree of damage would be done to your brand and reputation before you can swing into action. It’s a better approach to have a solid strategy already in place before these problems occur.

Brand protection is an extremely important yet vastly under-regarded step to business building. It involves a series of activities initiated by a business owner to prevent the illegal or unauthorized use or general abuse of their intellectual property. Essentially, it means to safeguard your brand from leeches working to reap off your progress.

At AXENCIS, we offer our clients a chance to protect their business, safeguard their reputation, and reclaim revenue lost to counterfeiting antics. We stand out by working the 21st-century way, running our cutting-edge proprietary software that performs thorough scans for infringement across all major online marketplaces. AXENCIS does not merely stop at taking down fake accounts and infringing listings – we target, pinpoint, and prosecute the culprits, regardless of their location on the globe. We help our clients reclaim lost revenue through the seizure of the culprits’ assets and liquidation of their accounts. This also allows us to provide our services COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE as our service costs are covered in this step. Simply put, AXENCIS, provides a loss-proof solution and long-lasting remedy to the counterfeiting nightmare.