The global pandemic has been a catalyst for change in many aspects of our everyday lives. One area in which we can observe this significant shift is in online consumer shopping trends. Many of us are now choosing to shop online for more of our consumer goods. Unfortunately, evidence shows that since this change has occurred, there has also been an increase in the level of counterfeit lookalike goods being sold online. As trade mark owners expend a significant amount of time and capital investing in their brands and rely heavily on reputation as regards quality etc., this can have a highly detrimental effect on their trade marks.
What damage can occur?
When trade mark owners fail to police the unauthorised use of their marks, they risk putting themselves and their consumers at risk. A clear example of this is within the cosmetic industry. Counterfeit goods in this industry have become increasingly realistic and difficult to distinguish from the genuine product. As a result, consumers are buying these products either in the belief that they originate from the mark owner, or because the fake product is so similar that nobody would suspect it is not the genuine luxury product. Unfortunately, in the case of cosmetics there are serious health risks associated with the purchase of counterfeit goods. The toxic ingredients and filler chemicals used for fake products have the potential to cause irreparable damage to the consumer. One widely publicised example was when a young female was rushed to hospital with chemical burns after unknowingly purchasing and using a fake Kylie Cosmetics Lip Kit. Instances such as this can cause irreparable harm to the reputation of a brand, along with economic loss to the business, and considerable danger to consumers.
How can trade mark owners can mitigate the risk?
There are various ways trade mark owners can undertake to protect themselves and their consumers from counterfeit goods using their brand:
- Trade mark owners must remain vigilant and have processes in place to ensure that their mark is not being used online for other goods or services. For example, they may choose to undertake weekly searches on the internet and common third-party websites to ensure no identical or similar marks are being used in relation to counterfeit goods.
- It is important to ensure that all trade marks used within a business are reviewed to ensure that they are registered for the correct range of goods and services and are giving the brand the appropriate legal protection to tackle any infringement.
- All potential infringement should be dealt with quickly with the assistance of an IP specialist.
- Trade mark owners should communicate with their customers to make them aware of the legitimate websites and any third-party sellers of their products, and report instances where counterfeit goods have been identified.
How can Thorntons help?
If you are a registered trade mark owner and require support in defending your trade mark from infringement, we are happy to be of assistance. We have a team of trade mark experts, including a Chartered Trade Mark Attorney, with specialist knowledge and experience on hand to help you. We will guide you through the process, providing you with a bespoke service tailored to your business’s needs.
Call us on 03330 430 350 for comprehensive trade mark support and advice.