Online brand protection in Asia

Haydn Simpson

1.       Why is it important for brand owners to monitor internet content?


The internet provides a fantastic opportunity for brand owners to strengthen relationships with existing customers and to reach new markets, particularly with the unstoppable technology and online take-up in emerging markets. Consumer activities are changing and brands need to be able to make it easy for customers to buy their products and services online. However, the internet is also a relatively anonymised environment that provides the same opportunities for third parties who want to use brands for illicit gain, such as fraud or the distribution of counterfeit goods. In order to optimise their online route to market and to ensure that they are protecting their brands, it is fundamental that brand owners properly understand the online landscape in order to make decisions based on management intelligence rather than conjecture. Monitoring and analysing their own, and third party, activities helps them to achieve this.


2.       What services do your company provide to monitor the sale of counterfeit goods and how does your system work? What happens after an infringement is spotted?


NetNames provides end-to-end online brand protection services to ambitious global brands.  In layman’s terms, we use a combination of proprietary technology and highly-educated multi-lingual analysts to find, prioritise and take action against infringements on behalf of the brand owners.  These actions are all executed in accordance with strict criteria, meaning that NetNames provides standalone services for accurate and efficient online monitoring and enforcement. 


3.       Can you tell me any notable anti-counterfeit action your company has engaged in?


All of our services are notable as we are providing high value innovative solutions that reduce the chances of consumers buying counterfeit goods, whilst at the same time mitigating the online risk for our clients. Due to the nature of our activities, most of our services are confidential.  However, we do provide services to a wide range of industries. Our clients include Unilever, Billabong and Inditex.


4.       It is no denying that the e-commerce platforms in China are rife with counterfeit goods. How does your company cater for brand owners' need to protect their assets online in China?


We estimate that up to 80% of listings on some Chinese marketplace sites offer counterfeit goods. We work very hard to make sure that we understand what our clients are trying to achieve in this market and what constitutes success for their online brand protection programs. We then engage directly with the marketplace sites (and other key players) to understand the processes and how to make it easy for them to comply with brand owner’s demands. This inside knowledge means we are very fast and accurate in our actions and achieve 95% compliance rates on most sites. We also use other sources of data, such as social media and independent websites, to identify and research the biggest perpetrators and how we can take action against them.


5.       What are the challenges for brand owners to monitor and act against online infringement, particularly in China and the rest of Asia?


The three biggest challenges are: a lack of understanding of the internet ecosystem and landscape; knowing where to focus to have the biggest effect in the shortest timescale; choosing the right options for enforcement and having the operational expertise to get a result


6.       What is a good approach and strategy for brand owners to protect trademarks and brands online?


Essentially, brands must understand the internet landscape and what their business is trying to achieve. Organisations should use a risk matrix to assess and prioritise the threats against them, then design and implement a brand protection solution that focuses on the right return on investment (ROI) for the company – with expert input to bolster internal teams where necessary. It is then crucial that ROI is measured and celebrated within the business, with strategies evolving in line with the changing landscape to ensure that brands remain present, protected and prosperous in the online channel.


 7. What are the benefits for brand owners to use automated software, such as what NetNames provides, to monitor IP infringement?


Automated software can process vast quantities of data with high accuracy levels, leading to in-depth and precise insights. It is far more cost effective and can pinpoint high value targets amongst a huge amount of internet noise. However, automated software is only as good as the team behind it, who must have the necessary skills to manage and respond to data - which is why NetNames continues to invest heavily in its people.


8.  How has technology changed brand protection over the years?


The growth of e-commerce has provided vast opportunities for brands, but also for fraudsters and counterfeiters. However, as the internet has evolved, technology has evolved alongside it, allowing for the monitoring and analysis of large amounts of internet activity. Brand protection technology enables NetNames to run high volume, return on investment services for its clients. There are many ways that technology has made brand protection easier, cheaper and more accessible, but there is still no substitute for using that technology in conjunction with additional strategic and operational expertise delivered by highly-trained analysts.


This article first appeared in Asia IP.