Lightning fast wingers racing towards goal. Thunderously hit penalties bursting the net. Instantaneous joys and woes in the hearts and mouths of supporters.
In the world of football, everything moves fast.
What moves just as fast, however, is a black market of fake goods designed to exploit the loyalty and investment of fans and teams.
Due to the success of the World Cup and the movements in the summer transfer markets, football has been more in the media than it normally would be at this time of year, and you can be sure that where the public interest goes so do the money-making plans of counterfeiters across the world.
Even during the usual summer lull, however, at Pointer we watch the trends and the moves with a keen eye because you never know what is going to provoke the latest influx of fake shirts or fidget spinners.
With that in mind, there’s been a small story making the back pages concerning a certain number 7 formerly of the Spanish capital. The timeline makes for interesting reading.
A timeline of recent events surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo:
10th July 2018 – Despite weeks of prior speculation in the media, Juventus officially reveal that they have signed Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid on a four-year contract.
11th July 2018 – Official Ronaldo branded Juventus replica shirts go on sale. Fans queue for hours in Turin to buy them and the Juventus website crashes due to overwhelming demand.
11th July 2018 – KPMG’s Football Benchmark platform states that between 1st-11th July, Juventus gained an additional 1.1million Instagram followers (an 11% rise).
suggest that within just one day of being on sale approximately 520,000 Ronaldo shirts have been sold globally. Given a standard price of 104 Euros for the replica jersey this is an income of 54 million Euros. He hasn’t even been unveiled as a player yet.
15th July 2018 – Ronaldo flies into Turin ahead of a medical the following day.
16th July 2018 – Juventus declare a #CR7DAY in Turin. Ronaldo gives his first press conference and is officially unveiled as the latest Bianconero.
17th July 2018 – Just one week after his signing, a simple “RONALDO JUVENTUS” search on the top five worst offending Chinese and Indonesian marketplaces for counterfeit football shirts reveals, with the most basic search term, a total of 6517 listings which feature either definitely or likely counterfeit products.
If we assume these sellers each have one item (which they don’t) and take the same retail value of 104 Euros, then we have an initial sales value of 677,768 Euros. In one week!
The reality is that many of these listings will have no stock, but many will also have hundreds or thousands of items, so the end figures are astronomical. What’s more frightening though is that these figures don’t account for websites, language translations, social media, actual shops/markets or even for the myriad of alternative ways in which online traders will list a product. Searches for Juventus 18/19, or CR7, or Juve Cristiano, will all bring back many more listings. When we speak with our partners Back Four about their work with UK Border Force they tell us that they commonly see imported shipments of fake football shirts containing 10’s or 100’s of items. When a big news story like this breakthrough, it’s certain that these totals will reach into the 1000’s.
Although this is a specific issue which has made the news right now because of football, it goes beyond the game and has the potential to touch all brands no matter what their size or specialty. What happens when a hot celebrity is seen wearing your clothes at a high-profile event? How do you cope when a prominent social media influencer says that your toy is going to be the one every kid wants this Christmas? In an age of instant communication, every brand can see this accelerated growth and counterfeiting in a short space of time.
The best solution? Prepare in advance. Get your IP portfolio in order. Speak to the experts.
If you feel like you need advice and assistance, then speak to us and let’s work together to protect your rights.
Pointer Brand Protection is a brand protection service that aims to help you with any problems regarding intellectual property, brand protection, and online enforcement. Contact us to improve your brand protection strategy, or if you have any questions.
Special Thanks to Stephen Connolly from Back Four
Back Four is a brand protection consultancy which was created in 2011, but which is based on over a decade of experience in protecting global brands like Manchester United, Nike and Converse from counterfeiting and brand abuse.
Back Four manages the Premier League’s globally successful Anti-Counterfeiting Programme, in addition to the brand protection efforts of a host of other clients from across the sports and fashion industries. The Football Association, the RFU and New Balance are all among the various brands who have trusted us with the protection of their intellectual property.
Is it Legal to Sell Replica Items, Counterfeit Goods, Knockoffs?
In the fight against intellectual property infringement, you need to know your vocabulary. There is a difference between counterfeit goods, replica items, and knockoffs, and it is important to know them apart because different laws, regulations and penalties apply when it comes to the selling and purchasing of these items. The fast-paced development of the internet, which provides an easy and deceptive breeding-ground for fake products, makes it almost impossible to keep track of authenticity when it comes to your purchases. Moreover, it creates such a large variety of fake goods on offer that it becomes difficult to understand what the legal repercussions are of selling counterfeits, replicas, and knockoffs. This article will explain, once and for all, whether or not it is legal to sell these products. It will also give you some insight into the rules of selling products on large e-commerce platforms.
When are products considered to be replica items, counterfeit goods or knockoffs?
It’s easy to get lost in a sea of attractive products when you’re shopping online, however, you must be extremely careful about checking what you buy. Scammers aren’t just selling their wares in back-alleys and street corners anymore. No, they are fully operational online, making it harder to distinguish between originals and fakes. There are various kinds of fake goods and it is important to know the difference between them since the penalties vary when it comes to the selling and purchasing of these items. Take a look at the distinctions here:
Definition of counterfeit goods
A counterfeit is a product that is made to look exactly like another product, thereby infringing upon the trademark of that product mark. The counterfeit product is meant to deceive customers into believing that they are purchasing an original, usually at what appears to be a great discount. It tends to be difficult to distinguish the counterfeit from the original, though they can usually be told apart by looking at labels, packaging, as well as quality.
Definition of replica items
Replica is a relatively new term coined by counterfeiters to promote their products online. If a replica is identical to the original brand’s product, it is illegal. However, if it is similar to an original design but not identical (for example missing the brand’s original logo), it is more like a knockoff.
Definition of knockoffs
A knockoff is a product that resembles another product, yet is not exactly identical. Sometimes reputable brands even sell knockoffs of other brands’ products and designs, taking inspiration from them. This is not illegal, but the original brand could take the party copying their idea to court for infringing on their intellectual property.
What is illegal to sell on the most popular ecommerce platforms?
Each e-commerce platform has their own list of items that are prohibited for sale on their platform. Counterfeits, replicas and knockoffs are illegal to sell on most e-commerce platforms, especially on the most popular ones like eBay, Amazon and Alibaba. In addition, there is an endless list of items that are prohibited to sell on Amazon, and it includes things such as drugs, weapons, fine art, cosmetics, and animals. To see the full list, follow this link. One is allowed to sell almost anything on eBay, but there are strict regulations one has to comply with. However, drugs and explosives such as fireworks are totally prohibited. Check the website for eBay’s full policy regarding restricted and prohibited items. Alibaba’s prohibited items list includes weapons, drugs, adult or obscene material, and medical devices. For the full list, see here.
Selling replica items, counterfeit goods and knockoffs
It is prohibited to sell replicas, counterfeits, knockoffs and unauthorised copies on eBay, Amazon, and Alibaba. According to eBay, selling such items can infringe on someone’s copyright or trademark, which is against the law and against eBay policy. Amazon’s anti-counterfeiting policy states that products sold on Amazon must be authentic. Failure to abide by their policy may result in loss of selling privileges, withheld funds, and destruction of inventory. Alibaba also has a clear anti-counterfeiting policy, stating that counterfeits, non-licensed replicas, or unauthorised items are strictly prohibited on the site. Such products will be removed immediately, and repeated posting of these items will lead to membership suspension.
Selling counterfeit goods is illegal in the U.S., though there aren’t currently any laws for punishing consumers for buying counterfeits. However, countries like France and Italy already have laws in place that punish tourists for buying fake designer goods.
Do’s and don’ts of selling products on ecommerce platforms
There are a lot of do’s and don’ts when it comes to selling products on popular e-commerce platforms like Amazon, eBay and Alibaba. To give you a better understanding of their policies we have compiled a list of some guidelines per platform.
Do: Have only one seller account – you cannot have more than one registered account.
Don’t: Add links to your website – this is against Amazon guidelines.
Do: Provide true and honest information at all times.
Don’t: Include any promotional information – avoid promotional info with your product images or title, since Amazon won’t allow anything of the sort.
Don’t: List products that are prohibited on Amazon – check the list of prohibited products here.
Find the full list of Amazon guidelines on their website.
Do: Be clear about the condition of your product to avoid disputes.
Don’t: Use stock photos when selling a used, refurbished or flawed product – you have to use photos of the actual item.
Do: Put items on sale, but follow the rules eBay set concerning the original price and tools to use when creating the sale or promotion.
Don’t: Contact other sellers to coordinate prices for you products.
Don’t: List products that are prohibited on eBay – check the list of prohibited products here.
Find the full list of eBay guidelines on their website.
Do: Undergo the authentication and verification inspection by Alibaba.com as well as a third-party verification company. This will show consumers that you are trustworthy.
Don’t: Post or list any products prohibited or restricted by a federal, state or local law in any country or jurisdiction.
Find the full list of Alibaba guidelines on their website.
The aim of this article was to inform you that it is illegal to sell counterfeit goods and that there could be serious penalties for doing so. Knockoffs are not always technically illegal, but the company or person creating and selling these products could be taken to court by the original brand owner for stealing their ideas. Replicas can refer to either counterfeits or knockoffs, so it depends on the product whether or not selling it is illegal. Selling counterfeits, replicas and knockoffs is always a bad idea for business and can have serious repercussions. Additionally, buying these items contributes to the problem.
At Pointer Brand Protection, we are committed to protecting your brand and consumers from counterfeits, replicas and knockoffs, as well as from trademark and copyright infringements.
Do you want to know more about our brand protection solutions? Contact us here. We would love to help you.
Image Recognition and Machine Learning for Brand Protection
The internet can either be a blessing or a curse for brands. On one hand, it offers countless ways to promote your brand and get people to purchase items online. On the other, the internet is a breeding ground for counterfeiters that pretend to sell products under your brand name. Brand protection is therefore extremely important, and it is essential to stay on top of the latest brand protection technology. The aim of this article is to introduce image recognition, a relatively new technology that is a game-changer for brand protection. It will help protect your brand in an efficient and effective way.
Why do companies need Brand Protection?
If a company has trademarks on any kind of products, it means that others can infringe on their intellectual property rights. Brand protection is therefore essential for companies because there are several things at stake: the company’s intellectual property, the value of the brand, the company reputation, and the revenue. The value of the brand could decrease since fake goods cause people to have negative associations with the real brand. The sale of genuine products is also likely to be affected negatively if there are a lot of fakes on the market, resulting in a decrease in revenue for the actual brand.
On top of this, the internet poses a serious problem for companies and brands because it is so easy for counterfeiters to use it to advertise and sell fake goods and counterfeits. Counterfeiters use social media to lure people to their web pages, where they sell them fakes. They often also get people to pay for goods that never reach their destination. Counterfeiting and intellectual property infringement are not only detrimental to your brand, but are also often tied to organised crime. Not to mention the factories that produce these fake goods where workers are extradited to terrible and dangerous working conditions.
Having a good brand protection strategy should therefore be a top priority for companies. Pointer Brand Protection has been offering leading brand protection services for years. This company is up to date with the newest technology in the field of brand protection, namely image recognition.
What is Image Recognition and how does it work?
So what exactly is image recognition, and how does it work? Image recognition is the ability of software to identify objects, people, places and actions in images. Computers use machine vision technologies with artificial intelligence (AI) software and a camera to achieve image recognition. Computers can therefore recognise objects, people, places and actions in images in a similar way to human beings. The software can be programmed to recognise certain objects in images, thus creating endless possibilities.
Image recognition for Brand Protection
When it comes to brand protection, image recognition technology uses computer vision and machine learning to sift through millions of public images in order to track down brands, patterns and products. Computers use artificial intelligence to power image recognition technology, and therefore they are able to recognise objects in images like human beings do. This is a remarkable contribution to brand protection, since it allows owners of brands to keep track of how their brand is represented in shared photos and images across devices.
Some companies already offer a visual search platform that uses image recognition technology to recognise similar trademarks worldwide. The software can also monitor trademarks automatically, providing users with reports, recommendations and legal advice. Just several years ago the process was extremely time-consuming. Tracking down similar image trademarks was done through subjective text-based searching. Now, with image recognition technology, identifying intellectual property infringement by searching for brands and products in online images has become faster and easier than ever before.
At Pointer Brand Protection we use image recognition in three different ways:
1.To categorise images. This means that we want to know what is depicted in a photograph (a shoe, a football, a bar code, etc.) in order to be able to filter for specific products swiftly.
2.To recognise logos. This allows us to track down whether brand logos are being used by counterfeiters.
3.To find exact or similar matches. This means that all the images on domains, social media and marketplaces are matched with brand images, and then a cluster analysis is made of the images. It allows us to discover who placed the images online, making it easier for us to take action against counterfeiters.
Image recognition technology is a game-changing addition to brand protection, which will become indispensable in the fight against intellectual property infringement and counterfeits. At Pointer Brand Protection we already incorporate image recognition into our brand protection strategy and stay up to date with the newest developments in image recognition technology. If you have any questions or if you would like to learn more about our brand protection solutions, get in touch here.
Top 3 Ecommerce Platforms in Southeast Asia and How To Stop Fakes
Asia is, due to its growth rate and scale, a lucrative market for online marketplaces. And China’s online retail market is already the largest worldwide by far. However, according to predictions, Southeast Asia is only just beginning to benefit from the ecommerce boom. The reason for this is that more and more consumers in this country are now shopping online. This will only increase exponentially in coming years since technology is becoming the norm everywhere, even in rural communities. Naturally, many Western ecommerce giants have started operating in Southeast Asia, but local companies still dominate the market since they have a better understanding of their target audience. Since ecommerce platforms are developing at a rapid rate in Southeast Asia, more and more people are purchasing goods on these platforms. Online scammers and people trying to sell fakes are therefore becoming an increasing problem.
Below are the most popular ecommerce platforms in Southeast Asia, followed by advice on how to combat counterfeiting and infringements on these websites.
Lazada is the biggest ecommerce website in Southeast Asia, reaching customers in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It boasts over 50 million visitors monthly and has special features such as allowing consumers to customise their online ‘shop front’. Lazada offers a very wide range of products, ranging from electronics to household goods and fashion. The company was founded in 2011 by Alexander Samwer, Marc Samwer and Oliver Samwer of Rocket Internet, a German incubator that builds companies by copying successful business models of American tech companies in emerging markets. Lazada is owned by Alibaba Group and in 2016 it recorded $1.36 billion in annual sales across its 6 markets in Southeast Asia.
Given the massive scope of products being sold on Lazada, the sale of counterfeit goods is naturally a serious issue. Lazada has a ‘zero-tolerance policy’ towards counterfeit goods. To fight the issue of counterfeits, the company takes proactive and retroactive steps to counter the sales of fake goods on its platform. All the merchants on Lazada are registered with BIR and SEC (Bureau of Internal Revenue and Securities and Exchange Commission). What’s more, merchants selling health and beauty products have to provide Lazada with their FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) permit. If Lazada’s counterfeit specialist team validates a report regarding a counterfeit product, it can result in the deactivation of the SKU (stock keeping unit) in question, temporary or even permanent shop deactivation.
Tokopedia, with its headquarters in Jakarta, was founded in 2009 by William Tanuwijaya and Leontinus Alpha Edison. In 2014, this company made history as being the first technology company in Southeast Asia to receive a $100 million investment from Sequoia Capital and SoftBank Internet and Media Inc. By 2015, Tokopedia had over 4.9 million active product listings, selling over 5 million products every month.
A CSC Global webinar reported the increased number of counterfeits on platforms like Tokopedia. In order to enforce takedown of infringing listings, the process is done via email.
Shopee was first launched in Singapore in 2015 and has features like in-app messaging and free goods delivery promos. Its CEO is Chris Feng. In the first half of 2017 alone, Shopee amassed over $3 billion in annualised gross merchandise value (GMV) across its 7 markets (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan).
It has been reported that many fake goods are for sale on Shopee. Shopee’s response to the issue of counterfeit goods is that only genuine products can be listed on Shopee. Their community rules on their website state that counterfeit goods are illegal and strictly prohibited, and that Shopee reserves the right to report and delete any listing of a counterfeit nature.
How to stop the selling of fakes in Southeast Asia
The three mentioned ecommerce platforms each have their own policy regarding intellectual property rights and counterfeit goods. The following information can be found regarding their anti-counterfeit policies:
Lazada: Lazada has a ‘zero-tolerance policy’ towards counterfeit goods. Their anti-counterfeit process is as follows:
Tokopedia: Infringing listings can be submitted via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Attached in the email: the business incorporation certificate, a registration form, which has to be filled in and signed by the brand owner, the local IPR certificate, which includes the trademark certificate issued by the Indonesian IP office, and a list of the infringing URLs in the spreadsheet.
Shopee: Shopee’s website has its own takedown procedure. In order to report a counterfeit product, you can simply select the option “report this product” from the drop-down menu.
Pointer Brand Protection is a brand protection service that aims to help you with any problems regarding intellectual property, brand protection, and online enforcement in Southeast Asia, or anywhere else in the world. Contact us to improve your brand protection strategy, or if you have any questions.
Top 3 Ecommerce Platforms in India and How To Stop Fakes
Online shopping websites are popping up more and more frequently all over India as ecommerce has become a way of life in this country. Shopping online is no longer strictly reserved for the wealthy or tech-savvy, but has become a preferred way of shopping for a large part of the population. It is predicted that India’s ecommerce market will eventually outgrow that of China. With this rapid development in ecommerce platforms it is inevitable that online scammers and people trying to sell counterfeit goods and fakes on these online marketplaces will become a reality. Below are the most popular ecommerce platforms in South Asia (all in India), followed by advice on how to combat counterfeiting and infringements on these websites.
Flipkart was founded in 2007 by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, and its headquarters are located in Bangalore, India. They have started out in a similar way to Amazon – as an online bookseller that soon started branching out into other areas. Today, it is India’s biggest ecommerce platform.
2016, Flipkart counted 100 million registered users, covering 43% of India’s ecommerce market. 2017, Flipkart counted a revenue of US$ 3 billion. 2017, Skechers sued Flipkart for allegedly selling counterfeit goods as Sketchers products.
Flipkart was adamant that they were fully compliant with the rules and that they conduct their business with the highest standards. Flipkart has a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for counterfeit products, meaning it immediately removes counterfeits as soon as they are spotted. The platform also has an Infringement Verification process where intellectual property owners can report listings that infringe their rights.
Snapdeal, founded in 2010 by Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, is Flipkart’s biggest rival on the market today. They are based in New Delhi, India. It started out as a daily deals platform, but developed into a fully fledged online marketplace by 2011. Today, it is one of the largest online marketplaces in India with over 40 million users and 300.000 sellers. Snapdeal expects to have 20 million daily visitors by 2020.
This year, a reporter for India’s Economic Times wrote an article about ecommerce giants in India and counterfeit goods. He had purchased a pair of Adidas sneakers on Snapdeal, and these sneakers turned out to be fakes. Snapdeal said the vastness and complexity of the market, as well as their suppliers, are to blame. They also said they are using image recognition technology to help identify intellectual property violations.
Shopclues is an online marketplace founded by Sanjay Sethi, Sandeep Aggarwal and Radhika Aggarwal in Silicon Valley in 2011. Its headquarters are located in Gurgaon, India. Shopclues worked its way up to the top by focusing on household items, while Flipkart and Snapdeal mainly focused on electronics. They claim to have over 600.000 sellers and is valued at US$ 1.1 billion.
Back in 2015, Ray-Ban sued Shopclues for selling fake eyewear on their platform. Shopclues said they work closely with brands to clean the site of counterfeits, and have their own intellectual property protection program so brand owners can easily reach out and protect their brands.
How to stop fakes in India
These three ecommerce platforms each have their own policy regarding intellectual property rights. The following information can be found on their websites:
Flipkart: Flipkart respects third party intellectual property rights and supports the protection of all third party intellectual property. Their policy is to immediately respond to clear notices of alleged IP infringement. If they receive proper notification of IP infringement, they will remove or disable access to material claimed to be the subject of infringing activity. Below are their guidelines for how to report a listing:
Snapdeal: Snapdeal states that, since it is an online marketplace and intermediary, it is not obliged to monitor or control the products sold on their website. However, Snapdeal may choose to monitor and remove products from the website if it is determined that this content is in violation of Snapdeal’s policies or any applicable law. Below are its violations report procedure:
Shopclues: Shopclues is committed to protecting third party IP rights. Unauthorised use of infringement or copyrighted material and trademarks are strictly prohibited. They state that they have zero tolerance for any intellectual property violations. Violations of the policy can result in product listing cancellation, limits on account privileges, account suspension, and loss of top rated merchant status.
Pointer Brand Protection is a brand protection service that aims to help you with any problems you may have regarding intellectual property, brand protection, and online enforcement in India, or anywhere else in the world. Contact us to improve your brand protection strategy, or if you have any questions.
Pointer Brand Protection is sponsoring the 2nd Europol Intellectual Property Crime Conference, 26 and 27 June 2018 in Budapest, Hungary.
Let’s join forces to fight against infringements that damage your brand and put all your hard work at risk.
Get in touch with our Business Development Managers – Peter- Jan Dullart and Fiona Gao to set up a meeting in beautiful Budapest or book a live demo.
We look forward to discussing the newest and most effective trends and strategies to help protect your brand online.
EUROPOL IP Crime Conference Budapest 2018
Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3) is pleased to announce the 2nd Europol Intellectual Property Crime Conference, co-hosted by the Hungarian National Tax and Customs Administration in partnership with UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC).
The Conference will be held on 26 and 27 June 2018, at the Marriott Hotel Budapest, in Budapest, Hungary. On 26 June, the Hungarian National Tax and Customs Administration is inviting participants to a networking dinner which will be served on a cruiser on the Danube river with amazing view to major attractions.
After the Europol Intellectual Property Crime Conference in Antwerp in 2017, participants will have the opportunity again to discuss edge-cutting new trends of intellectual property rights enforcement during plenaries, workshops and exhibitions with leading experts from law enforcement, private industry and academia from all over the world.
Please save the date in your calendars. You will receive information on how to register soon. We very much look forward to welcoming you to Budapest in June 2018.
Framework Elements for Unified Access Model for Continued Access to Full WHOIS Data
On May 17, just a few days before the entry into force of the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), the ICANN Board approved a Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data (“Temporary Specification”) in an attempt to ensure WHOIS compliance. In a nutshell, the Temporary Specification provides open access to Registrant, Administrative and Technical contact information while restricting most personal data to layered/tiered access to users who can show a legitimate interest. However, this has proven to be difficult, as the legitimate interest has been usually set up too high. For instance, GoDaddy only provides full WHOIS information if proof of a legal process is provided to them. This requirement does not reflect the real practice of the digital brand protection industry.
To overcome this difficulty, ICANN has published a new draft on the Framework Elements for Unified Access Model for Continued Access to Full WHOIS Data (“Unified Access Model”). As was already advanced by ICANN, this approach seeks to provide access to full WHOIS data to, among others, defined categories of private third parties who are bound to abide by codes of conduct.
The Unified Access Model proposal will go through three different phases. The first phase, and the current one, involves community discussion and consultations. The second phase, will entail consultation with the European Data Protection Board on the proposal and the approach to develop the different Codes of Conduct for the different user groups. The final phase, involves further refinement and finalization of the Unified Access Model based on inputs from the community and the European Data Protection Board.
Of note is that, as required by the Temporary Specification, registries and registrars are required to implement the RDAP technical protocol by mid-December 2018. The RDAP enables users to access current registration data and was created as an eventual replacement for the WHOIS protocol. As this is a necessary step to enable the implementation of the Unified Access Model, it is likely that the Model will be implemented by early 2019.
The Unified Access Model will be established for only defined groups of legitimately interested users. The different categories of legitimately interested users will be identified by governments within the European Economic Area. ICANN envisions that these groups might include intellectual property rights holders, law enforcement authorities, operational security researchers, and individual registrants which will be identified by relevant bodies with expertise to authenticate these users legitimate interest.
In order to become a legitimate user who can access the non-public WHOIS database, the user would have to go through an application process to be approved by an authenticating body. If the user successfully satisfies the requirements of the authenticating body, then it would be required to confirm its adherence to the relevant Code of Conduct – which will establish a framework for the use of non-public WHOIS data. Possibly a fee will be charged for this.
However, the scope of data that will be available to the authenticated users has not been clarified yet. ICANN will seek guidance from the European Data Protection Board on two possible approaches: (1) access to non-public WHOIS data consistent with the identified legitimate purpose presented to the registry operator or registrar for each query or (2) access to the full WHOIS record for each query.
There is a long road ahead of us and the final text is still far from sight.
Manuela Adrogué, lawyer, LLM in Intellectual Property and Knowledge Management. Data Protection Officer of Pointer BP.
Why you Shouldn’t Buy Fake Football Shirts and How to Spot Them
Why you Shouldn’t Buy Fake Football Shirts and How to Spot Them
Football is one of the most popular sports in the world, and the culture surrounding it is undeniably strong. Many fans consider football their religion. Therefore, everything that has to do with football becomes extremely important – especially clothes. Football fans swear by their team’s colours, and have to have their own football shirt to show their team spirit and support.
But with this demand comes a danger of counterfeit activity. Just last year, £1m worth of fake football shirts were seized at a warehouse in the UK. Let’s delve into the issues surrounding counterfeit football shirts, and explain why you should never spend your money on that. We will also tell you how to spot a fake football shirt and how to protect your brand against counterfeits.
The issue of fake football shirts
Millions of football shirts are sold worldwide annually. With this in mind, it makes sense that scammers will try to replicate football merchandise, given the tremendous demand. Fans buy club goods and merchandise as a badge of allegiance for their team, and to demonstrate their unwavering support. Counterfeiters abuse the worldwide recognition of football clubs and the high demand for merchandise – all for their own financial gain. These days it’s getting harder to keep track of counterfeit goods since most of the fakes are now being sold online.
Why not to buy fakes
So why shouldn’t we buy fake football shirts and merchandise?
1-Buying counterfeit goods might hurt the image and reputation of football clubs. For example, low quality items might reflect negatively on the club itself;
2-Counterfeit shirts most likely haven’t undergone any safety tests, and could therefore pose a risk to fans who buy them (counterfeit clothes often do not pass fire safety tests);
3-There are often a link between counterfeit products and organised crime. By buying fakes you might just indirectly be supporting terrorist groups, drug crimes, or human trafficking;
4-The government loses approximately €500m per year in tax revenues due to the sale of fake merchandise, which in turn affects the average taxpayer;
5-Football clubs will lose revenues from the sale of their genuine merchandise.
Where are these fake football shirts sold?
Fake football shirts are sold all over the world – from street corners to special websites and online marketplaces. These days, buying online is becoming more and more popular. The following countries and platforms are famous for selling fakes:
–Indonesia: Tokopedia, Bukalapak, Shopee Indonesia
–South East Asia: Lazada Philippines, Lazada Thailand, Lazada Vietnam, Lazada Singapore, Lazada Malaysia, Shopee Philippines, Shopee Thailand, Shopee Vietnam, Shopee Taiwan, Shopee Singapore, Shopee Malaysia
–China: Taobao, AliExpress, 1688, DHgate
–South America: MercadoLibre Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia
Aside from the above-mentioned e-commerce platforms, you can also find a lot of fake football shirts on all eBay and Amazon platforms – irrespective of the country.
How to spot a fake football shirt
These are what you must look for to determine whether you’re dealing with a fake or not.
1-Fake shirts are usually on sale before the club’s official release;
2-The material, stitching, and logo is likely to be of poor quality;
3-Labels, swing tags, or official packaging might be missing on counterfeit shirts;
4-Incredibly low prices tend to be a red flag – fake goods are usually much cheaper than the original retail price.
How to protect your brand
We have pointed out the risks of fake football shirts and merchandise, and how purchasing these counterfeit goods makes football fans co-responsible. Football clubs must fight counterfeiters and protect their brand. This can be done by enlisting the services of a brand protection specialist.
Brand protection should be top priority, and we at Pointer Brand Protection offer an extensive brand protection service specifically tailored to each company’s needs. We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding online enforcement and brand protection. Contact us and start protecting your brand today.
Pointer Brand Protection is sponsoring in the Brand Protection Excellence Forum (BPEF), June 7-8, 2018 in Munich, Germany.
Let’s join forces to fight against infringements that damage your brand and put all your hard work at risk.
Get in touch with our Business Development Managers – Peter- Jan Dullart and Saskia van der Made to set up a meeting in Munich or book a live demo.
We look forward to discussing the newest and most effective trends and strategies to help protect your brand online.
Brand Protection Excellence Forum (BPEF)
Brand Protection Excellence Forum (BPEF) 2018, is an executive platform to discuss the industry challenges for Anti-counterfeiting, Online Brand Protection, Cross Border Product Security, Cyber Crime, IP Legislations, Global Cloud Security, Sterilization and Track & Trace Strategies. This is an invitation only event which helps the senior brand protection professionals to forge strong and everlasting business relationships to share best practice and knowledge about the very latest researches affecting the trends in global brand protection industry.
‘Until recently domain name registrars were able to elude liability for disputes because it was believed that they were so far removed from the content…Registrars are now being put under pressure to remove domain names because they are registering names which infringe on trademark law.’ Hazel Murphy: The Role of a Domain Name Registrar as an Intermediary, LLM dissertation, Tilburg University.
Counterfeiting is possibly the greatest problem brand owners face today. It’s also a serious problem for consumers, who not only end up buying shoddy imitations of well-known brands but also products that can seriously endanger their health, such as fake medicines, fake baby formula and fake brake pads.
Although there are many counterfeit goods to be found on the streets, the real battleground is online. The extent of the online counterfeiting phenomenon can be witnessed by various things. Such as an article that appeared in www.ibtimes.co.uk on 28 November 2017, which discusses the fact that European police forces ‘seized more than 20,500 web domains used to peddle counterfeit goods… including luxury products, sportswear, electronics and pharmaceuticals.’ Or a recent advisory material produced by Europol, in which consumers are given clear tips on how to identify counterfeit goods sites: look out for domain names that incorporate words like ‘genuine’ or ‘replica’, sites that are .net or .org, and URLs that start HTTP rather than https; be wary if the prices are too good to be true, if the grammar is poor, or the photos are of low quality. The fact that a recent TED talk performed by Tommy Hilfiger’s Brand Protection Manager, Alastair Gray – How fake handbags fund terrorism and organized crime – had 485 000 views.
But what can a brand owner do about a counterfeit site? They could sue the counterfeiter for trademark infringement, but that will be slow and expensive. So are criminal proceedings, or any attempt to get cancellation or transfer of the domain name using the ISP (Internet Service Provider) proceedings. The brand owner might ask the company that hosts the counterfeit site, the ISP (Internet Service Provider), to shut the site down. Nonetheless, there are two problems with that. One, it’s unlikely to be successful, because there is a belief that ISPs enjoy ‘safe harbour’ protection under Article 14 of the European E-Commerce Directive. In addition, even if the ISP (Internet Service Provider) is prepared to act, the counterfeiter retains the domain name and they can simply transfer the site to another host.
There’s a far better way, and that is to focus on the registrar, the middleman between the registry operator and the registrant who is authorized to sell domain names on the registry operator’s behalf. ICANN oversees the registrars, and their Terms and Conditions always follow the ICANN model. Many companies, of course, provide the services of both a registrar and an ISP (Internet Service Provider).
For starters, the trademark owner can request the registrar to enforce its own Terms and Conditions regarding the veracity of the WHOIS information that the domain name owner (counterfeiter) has provided, something that the contract says must be correct – my firm’s research suggests that more than 90% of domain names registered by counterfeiters contain false information.
So, are registrars required to act against the counterfeiter? There’s a view that the protection granted by Article 14 of the E-Commerce Directive to ISPs extends to registrars. And there is a 2012 French decision, EuroDNS, where the court held that there’s no obligation on the registrar to act and that it would be too technical and burdensome to require a registrar to screen for well-known trademarks. But in the 2014 German case of Key-System, the court held that registrars had to remove fraudulent content by blocking the domain name after it had received notice of copyright infringement on site.
In addition there is a practice of flagging; in other words, the system whereby accredited companies, known as ‘flaggers’, alert registrars of domain names that are being used for counterfeiting, and the registrars then cancel the domain names on the basis of that warning. It’s something the European authorities seem to approve of. On 28 September 2017 a European Commission Fact Sheet entitled Stepping up the EU’s efforts to tackle illegal content online was issued. This talks of the need to ‘address illegal content for online platforms, combining the need for fast and effective removal of illegal content and prevention and prosecution of crimes with safeguarding the right to free speech online’. It suggests that online platforms ‘should allow trusted flaggers, ie specialized entities with specific expertise in identifying illegal content, and dedicated structures for detecting and identifying such content, to have a privileged relationship whilst ensuring sufficient standards as regards training, quality assurance and safeguards.’
By working with trusted flaggers brand owners would in the future be able to ensure that registrars cancel domain names that are being used for counterfeiting.
I’d conclude with these words from Hazel Murphy, the lady who wrote the dissertation: ‘Domain name registrars are the backbone of the internet…they should have an active role in removing domain names if they are aware that they are facilitating fraudulent activity. If they take no action they are holding themselves to the possibility of secondary liability.’
Zlatka Koleva is a Brand Protection Analyst (Intellectual Property) in the legal department of Pointer Brand Protection & Research.
Before joining Pointer, she demonstrated interest in intellectual property law during her LL.M. studies at Erasmus University Rotterdam; Zlatka was a volunteer at the Trade Mark Law Institute, and wrote her Master thesis on international IP jurisdiction. Upon graduation, she completed a traineeship at the T.M.C. Asser Institute in international sports law, focusing on competition law.
Her daily work demands that she’s always ahead of the intellectual property awareness curve, so Zlatka is committed to continually broadening her IP knowledge. For example by taking part in the unique CopyrightX (distance-learning course) project, offered by Harvard Law School and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Zlatka was among just 500 participants worldwide who were granted complementary course access and received tuition from a Harvard Teaching Fellow.
At Pointer, Zlatka is responsible for advising on the brand protection strategy of one of the largest sports brand in the world.
1.Where an information society service is provided that consists of the storage of information provided by a recipient of the service, Member States shall ensure that the service provider is not liable for the information stored at the request of a recipient of the service, on condition that:
(a) the provider does not have actual knowledge of illegal activity or information and, as regards claims for damages, is not aware of facts or circumstances from which the illegal activity or information is apparent; or
(b) the provider, upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, acts expeditiously to remove or to disable access to the information.
2.Paragraph 1 shall not apply when the recipient of the service is acting under the authority or the control of the provider.
3.This Article shall not affect the possibility for a court or administrative authority, in accordance with Member States’ legal systems, of requiring the service provider to terminate or prevent an infringement, nor does it affect the possibility for the Member States of establishing procedures governing the removal or disabling of access to information.