Red Points compares the drawbacks of using a manual process against an automated process and explains the process required to protect a brand legally and comprehensively.
- Traditional brand protection methods are slow, costly and generally ineffective against modern counterfeiting online.
- Automating brand protection means freeing lawyers from repetitive micro-tasks, and frees their time for more important projects.
- Technology like crawlers can detect infringements nearly instantly and can enforce automatically once infringements are validated
For both new and well-established businesses, brand protection is extremely important, it safeguards the elements of a company that give it a competitive edge and reinforce its value, in both the eyes of investors and customers.
Traditionally, companies have used either in-house lawyers or have contracted legal services to protect their brand and intellectual property. However, traditional solutions are struggling to cope with the increased level of counterfeiting that has come with the rise of ecommerce sites.
So let’s take a look at the time and money that brands stand to save when switching to a brand protection strategy that is augmented by modern technology.
Traditional vs technical brand protection methods
This article aims to explain the process of a technological solution and how it differs from a manual process. We will show the process as one member of legal staff who is working to protect one brand or product, although many legal departments will divide these tasks amongst, this structure will allow us to draw direct comparisons between the two methods. Whether the work split between multiple staff members or not, the timescales of each part are unlikely to differ greatly from the times given below.
A traditional method requires a company to hire the services of qualified IP lawyer with relevant experience, as well as additional legal staff to support the search and documentation tasks. However, as stated, for this comparison we will assume that a company has elected to hire one IP lawyer or a firm has assigned one staff member full-time to a particular client.
Each legal team will have slightly different processes, however, there are no points in the following process that either traditional or technical methods can avoid. What will become apparent is how staff time is consumed by microtasks when using a manual protection option and how it affects the value of the service that an individual or firm can offer.
Red Points’ technology is supported by IP lawyers, who oversee all our operations, and expert analysts, who research trends and locations of IP infringements. Each brand we monitor is given an analyst who then becomes an expert in their IP and where they are most at risk.
Detection - Searching the web for infringements
The process of detecting brand infringements requires prior knowledge of search tags, social media hotspots, and notorious websites. In order to complete a thorough evaluation, a search should use different techniques, tags, and terms.
Searching techniques and tags include:
- Brand name
- Product name
- Misspellings, especially of the brand or product
- Key phrases, including from forums
- Product description
- Known sellers
- Associated blogs and message boards
Manually searching a large marketplace such as Aliexpress for one product type requires approximately 20-30 minutes of staff time. The staff member responsible for searching a marketplace must analyze each listing and judge how likely it is to be an infringement and then document each case, which is another time-consuming process.
One member of staff would be able to monitor no more than 10 marketplaces efficiently. This is because within hours of listings being removed many are reposted using different tags or from new seller accounts, therefore sites should be monitored daily if possible.
Red Points performs searches with multiple custom built crawlers that use our client’s trademark, patent, copyright, and design information to identify infringing listings. The crawlers learn from previous detections and expand their own search parameters. In addition, our analysts are able to make editions based on trends and code words used for products or brands. Our automatic searches run 24/7, can cover hundreds of marketplaces, and are able to detect any infringement within moments of its appearance.
Documentation - Databasing and tracking infringements
After judging the validity of each detection staff must then decide what type of infringement it is and the best course of action to take. Certain details must be recorded and kept in a database for later use.
All of the following details should be captured:
- Date and time of detection
- URL of the infringement
- Type of IP infringement
- Screenshot of the listing
- Price of product
- Quantity offered and sold
- Customer and staff comments
- Seller details
- Incident ID number
- Country of origin
- Shipping destinations
Analyzing and capturing these details manually is the most time-consuming process, even for an experienced staff member. Due to this, staff are limited in the number of detections they can document. The cases that are documented generally require the use of an Excel sheet or another form of database. These databases are vulnerable to input errors and missing information.
Our technology-based solution has the capacity to document thousands of detections every day and can analyze each incident to give an indication as to the level of probability of it being an IP infringement. Our database will automatically segment detections based on website and prioritize the most important ones for enforcement.
Some detections must be certified by a public notary in order to validate the incident. A traditional method would cost in the range of $80-100 per certification, and each will take between 1- 3 days.
However, Red Points’ solution is able to certify incidents of IP infringements within seconds, at no additional cost to the legal department or firm.
Enforcement - Removing infringements and sending takedown notices
Enforcement is the point where IP lawyers and legal firms bring real value to the company. To remove listings, legal staff can either send cease and desist notifications or report them through other ecommerce take-down tools. Many clients with existing legal departments or who are legal firms, maintain control over the enforcement element of the process, Red Points is able to meet this requirement and performs the time-consuming tasks, passing the documented and evaluated infringements to legal staff.
In a manual process, the legal team needs to take data from the excel database and enter it into either a takedown tool, email request form or cease and desist notifications. They then must update the excel database with the current status of the infringement and any pending actions. Cease and desist notifications are usually written or drafted by legal staff on a case by case basis and sent to the relevant individual. Depending on the response, or lack of, these are then escalated to higher authorities, which again requires more system updates.
Legal staff using Red Points’ solution are able to vastly improve their enforcement, using some of the 300 removal agreements that Red Points has with global marketplaces. Red Points’ enforcement tech can generate cease and desist letters automatically for each incident and auto-complete forms in takedown tools, all to be reviewed by our clients’ legal staff. As a result, staff using Red Points’ solution are able to process larger quantities of infringements with greater accuracy
Reporting - Updating case status and analyzing data
One of the most important processes in protecting the IP of a brand is reporting. Holding an in-depth database of each infringement, that staff are able to access and segment quickly, is extremely valuable. Also, it is key to know the status of each infringement, what actions have been taken and what actions are still pending.
Traditionally legal teams use Excel sheets which have to be updated manually. This can be particularly time-consuming when updating the status of each infringement and each action taken.
Red Points’ solution automatically updates the status of each incident in real-time, the moment a takedown request is sent. This gives legal staff information about each infringement as it is happening. The platform allows clients to segment detections based on keywords, website, price or other factors.
A traditional brand protection strategy simply doesn’t cut it now that counterfeiters have access to the internet, and all tools and potential customers it brings. Paying a team of lawyers to enforce IP online is a waste of their talents, which are put to much greater use with other tasks, such as investigations, research, analytics, and legal cases.
Employing brand protection technology that automates the huge amount of simple, repetitive tasks that lawyers and other brand protection specialists are not necessary for. Automating also means detections are made in a fraction of the time that it takes a human to search online. This means that counterfeit items for sale online can be dealt with far quicker than with a traditional, manual process.