How to Detect and Address Online Counterfeiters

The Internet has become an important aspect in our lives. With the Internet, people can pay bills, make appointments, and buy or sell products.  For example, websites like Amazon, Craigslist, and eBay allow the public to buy and sell products.  So, due to the ease of e-commerce transactions, counterfeiters have found a new medium to sell products.  E-commerce transactions do not require a physical meeting of the seller and buyer, so it becomes easier for counterfeiters to falsely claim they are selling authentic products.

Not only do online counterfeiters affect the public, but they affect businesses as well. Counterfeit items can affect a business’s bottom line. Counterfeit items can cause loss of sales, bad reputation, and loss of goodwill.

A way a business can address online counterfeiting problems is by hiring investigators to locate and identify the online counterfeiters. These investigators are skilled at online fraudulent transactions and can become valuable assets. The investigators create a list of sellers that are known to sell counterfeit items or have the typical characteristics of online counterfeit sellers. These characteristics include selling designer items for an extremely low price on low quality websites. The list is then sent to the business and the business determines whether or not it wants to conduct a sting operation to confirm the counterfeit nature of the seller. If the business decides to conduct the sting operation, then the investigator will set up a purchase, make an inspection, and determine if the goods are actually counterfeit.

Also, larger businesses are capable to addresses these counterfeiters in court.  For example, refer to Tiffany v. eBay and Gucci v. Alibaba for more information.  However, smaller retailers cannot afford a large legal team to address online counterfeiters. Smaller business should invest in an attorney that is well-skilled and well-versed in addressing online counterfeiters. By hiring such an attorney, the attorney can create a strategy to effectively address online counterfeiters. The attorney will use his/her legal knowledge and experience to create practical strategies. A few of the strategies can include sending cease and desist letters, filing lawsuits, and obtaining injunctions.

The main goal is to remove the counterfeit selling websites and sellers. If a business was simply going to monitor websites (e.g., Amazon, Craigslist, eBay) and report all counterfeit items, its efforts would be a waste. This is wasteful because once an item is taken down, there is nothing stopping another counterfeit item from popping up. This is why it is important to focus on the big picture and bring in a legal asset. The business should put its efforts into addressing the websites and sellers themselves. By having this targeted approach, the business will be placing its efforts in the proper place. By employing this method, the business will be shutting down such websites and can use it as a warning to others engaged in the same counterfeiting business.

At our law firm, we assist clients with legal issues related to business, technology, and e-commerce transactions. You may contact us to set up an initial consultation.