Intellectual property (IP) of all kinds is being infringed en masse on online marketplaces and social media platforms. For this reason, Red Points has created an ever-growing series of guides on how to enforce your IP. Welook at the top ecommerce websites targeted by counterfeiters, and review their anti-counterfeit and reporting methods.
- Overview of top counterfeit-selling sites
- Index of anti-counterfeit solutions on top ecommerce websites
The counterfeit landscape on top marketplaces
The growing digital demand in light of COVID-19 has led to an impressive 146% year-over-year growth in all U.S. & Canadian online retail orders. However, significant increase has also resulted in brands seeing 41% rise in cybercrime during COVID-19. Fake websites purporting to sell counterfeit goods are discoverable through a quick Google search whilst commerce apps such as Wallapop and The Hunt are also being targeted by counterfeiters.
It may seem like an impossible war, but a targeted brand protection solution can have an enormous impact. To gain an understanding of the global counterfeit market, and your brand’s own level of counterfeit, is the first step toward securing business continuity and brand equity. Brands that do anti-counterfeiting right are aware of this, and many have employed strategies that provide intel on counterfeit retailers.
Brands are not in this alone, top ecommerce sites like Amazon, eBay and Wish.com are constantly improving their partner protection programs, so that brands and marketplaces can team up in the post-COVID-19 era to mitigate the rise of IP infringements. With this in mind, we’ve created an index of anti-counterfeit solutions on top ecommerce websites:
Anti-counterfeit solutions index
Alibaba-owned Aliexpress focuses on selling to international buyers outside of China, and is available in a number of languages, it has come under fire for fakes, and these legal pressures caused Alibaba to create a dedicated IP enforcement team in 2015. Since the announcement, buying fakes on Aliexpress has become a little less overt, but is still widely practiced. Sellers can no longer search with genuine brand names, but dedicated unaffiliated websites are releasing ‘cover’ keywords that will yield results for branded goods.
Another means of purchasing counterfeit products on Aliexpress is through Yupoo, a Chinese photo-sharing site, which is becoming used as a third-party ‘catalogue’ for counterfeit products. Users post photos of products, and customers must contact the seller directly - typically via apps such as Whatsapp and WeChat - to receive a purchase link hosted on Aliexpress. The page will usually appear to sell a different, unbranded, product, which acts as a front for the counterfeit item being sold. The circuitous process was reported on by WTR who also provided advice on requesting Yupoo page takedowns.
Alibaba’s Taobao has become the go-to online shopping platform for a huge amount of Chinese internet users. Impressively, the Alibaba subsidiary has achieved this feat even though its platform is run exclusively in Chinese, with no available for English or other non-Chinese languages. The shopping platform has gained a global following for its low-priced products, causing the US to blacklist the marketplace over its notorious reputation for fake products. The marketplace's language is Chinese, and does not deliver internationally, but working with Taobao agents its discounted products are becoming more popular in the western world too.
Note: Taobao, Aliexpress, Alibaba, TMall, and 1688.com all exist within the Alibaba Group, and share the same counterfeit reporting platform.
eBay has dealt with a reputation for the sale of counterfeits for some time, but like Amazon, has improved their anti-counterfeiting tools greatly in recent years. This IP protection service is the Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) program, whereby certified rights holders can report illegal listings for automatic takedown. In this respect removing an item from eBay is fast, and gives the power back to the brand or agent acting on behalf of the brand.
Amazon has become the most valuable online marketplace in the world, earning daily revenues of $550m per day, and having reached a worth of over one trillion dollars in September 2018. At the peak of COVID-19 in March 2020, as the demand for cleansing supplies, hand sanitizers and face masks increased, it also opened up a black market where bad actors are exploiting the situation to their benefit. The lockdowns have pushed people to make all their purchases through ecommerce sites and this is allowing counterfeiters to prey on the vulnerability of the purchasers.
Like eBay, Amazon has stepped up their anti-counterfeit game by launching plans to give brands more control over their marketplace.
Amazon should be a high priority site for monitoring within a brand protection strategy, and their own service, Amazon Brand Registry, makes it easier than ever to protect intellectual property on its platform. In March 2019, Amazon also launched its newest product, named Project Zero. Amazon Project Zero (APZ) is the ecommerce giant’s most ambitious response to online counterfeiting. It provides three potential benefits to participating brands: automated IP protection and self-service counterfeit removal, both offered for free, and product serialization, available as an optional paid-for feature.
Wish.com is a rapidly-growing ecommerce website, so much so that it was the most-downloaded shopping app in the US in 2017. Wish currently earns more than $1 billion in revenue by offering products at extremely low prices, and counterfeiters are exploiting the online marketplace to sell fakes. To fight back, Wish has put in place robust anti-counterfeiting programs such as Wish Brand Partner Program which over 1,500 brands already joined. In a recent webinar with Wish’s Brand Protection Director, Maral Behnam-Garcia, she explains how brands can leverage these programs to effectively protect their assets on the marketplace.
DHgate is a B2B platform that sells to users worldwide in a number of languages. As with the previous sites on this list, DHgate is also targeted by bad actors looking to sell products at rock-bottom prices and is essential for brands to monitor.
JD.com boasts 30% of the Chinese retail market, though the name barely raises an eyebrow in the west. The ecommerce site has recently hit 200,000 retailers, though it is thought that a considerable number of these may be counterfeiters, and many of JD's 300 million active users have been tricked into buying fake products.
From soccer jerseys to adult pleasure products, Facebook has grown rapidly as a hub for counterfeit products. Within Facebook groups, hidden away with strong privacy settings and anonymity features, are huge groups of people looking to buy and sell counterfeit products.
Photo and video-sharing social network Instagram may not spring to mind when readers think of online counterfeiting, but social media is seeing a growing problem of IP infringements.
Instagram, in particular, sees a significant volume of cosmetics counterfeiting, often found through links in comments of posts from authentic brands. Though brands from every industry should be wary of links to counterfeits on Instagram.
Etsy is the online marketplace used by individuals to sell their handmade products like clothing, jewelry, toys, and more. Etsy may not be known as a major hub for the sale of counterfeit products, but it’s still important to know how to enforce your IP when counterfeits and other infringements are found.
Argentinian marketplace and online auction site is Latin America's most popular choice for ecommerce, but the company has been under serious pressure to revise its IP protection strategy, which they did, following high numbers of discovered fakes. Mercadolibre allows right holders or third-party suppliers to upload links on a user-friendly dedicated webpage. Its Intellectual Property Protection Programme (PPPI) is now available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
(see our webinar: Just how do you stop repeating IP offenders?)
Snapdeal & Flipkart
Based in India, Snapdeal and Flipkart, who have announced a company merger, have both garnered notoriety for selling of counterfeits. In India’s fast-growing market, counterfeiting is a spiraling problem, and as an industry functions atypically from a Western market: in India buying and selling counterfeits through Whatsapp is becoming popular, in an unnervingly untraceable method of transaction. Some brands, like Ray-Ban, have taken on the problem of counterfeiting in India by launching their own ecommerce sites and refusing to sell on Indian platforms.