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4 Steps To Protect Your Brand From Copyright Infringement in '24

Internet created a venue to found your own business or brand faster than ever. Downside is, copying content or impersonating a brand is also easier than ever on the internet. According to International Chamber of Office, counterfeiting and piracy was projected to cause global economy to lose US$4.2 trillion from 2017 to 2022. Despite the risk, businesses may not even be aware how copyright infringement can happen, whether they should be worried and how they can take precautions.

In this guide, we will introduce a 4-step guide for any business that have online channels or products to take proactive measure for copyright infringement.

The following are the 4 steps needed to take to protect business brands from copyright infringement:

1. Identify your risk areas

Copyright infringement is the practice of using a copyrighted work or someone’s intellectual property without authorization. The most straightforward examples are artwork, such as a song, or a video, as well as content on a website. However, we will expand on that definition a little bit to cover a wider area of risks. You may also face fraud against your brand name, website URL or product itself. You should first identify what are the most likely areas that your business can be subject to fraud in order to have a tailored plan to tackle it. We will touch on some examples, but feel free to check out our in-depth guide on brand protection.

  • Domain Name Abuse: This is simply mimicking your website name to steal your customers and traffic. This can be done through using a different extension, such as .net instead of .com or misspelling your website name. This is likely if you have a popular brand name or an increasing traffic to your website. A well known case is Google winning against their case to in 2011.
  • Counterfeiting: This is your website content being copied or imitations of your brands are sold elsewhere. If your product is content or relatively easy to reproduce, risk of counterfeiting arises. Especially for consumer goods such as makeup products, despite not being directly responsible, original brands may be held accountable by public and lose reputation because of the damage counterfeits cause or their malfunction.
  • Impersonation: This is when someone else creates a fake account or website imitating your brand in order to reach out to your customers. This may have overlaps with the two cases above, but will specifically target using your brand. They may sell your product as if it is your official website or post on your behalf as if it is your social media account, which happened to BP in 2010 and once collected a bigger audience than BP’s official accounts.

2. Defense is the Best Offense

Authenticating your business will help you identify the infringements. Here are some free tools and methods you can leverage:

  • Leverage free e-commerce protection: If you are a business selling on major e-commerce websites such as Amazon, eBay or Alibaba, these companies provide you with tools that will help searching the web and other sellers for suspected counterfeits.
  • Use the power of social media: If your brand have a strong and organic social media presence, your followers can help identify infringements. If you stay engaged and responsive to your followers on social media, it is likely that they will reach out to you for any suspicious case.
  • Know the legal framework: As long as the fraudulent purpose of the activity is clear, regulations will side with you if you ever need to take legal action. However, the pace of technological changes may outdo the legislative processed. For example, the most comprehensive trademark law in the US refers to “humans” as potential suspects and does not specifically addresses a case in which your content was attacked by a bot. In 2016, US has also passed a law against bots, which may be your legal basis in case of such an attack. If you are working with a brand protection solution, which we will mention in the next section, it is likely that they will guide you through any legal process. Otherwise, your legal teams should approach identifying true cases of fraud and base your compliant on legal grounds.

3. Use detection tools

With great power comes great responsibility, as we remember from Spiderman. As your business gets bigger, you may not be able to monitor infringement in house and seek professional help. There are many brand protection solutions that will address your needs. Below are the key technology factors to look for in a solution for a holistic protection:

  • Web Scraping: A major enabler of brand monitoring and protection is web scraping technology. By scanning the web for your brand and products regularly, web scrapers will find the URLs that your brand appear in and enable you to detect suspicious sources and infringements of your brand.

Challenges of web scraping for copyright infringement:

A challenge with this technology in brand protection today is, not all solutions are able to scan the mobile apps as efficiently as web. Creating a mobile app is a sophisticated way of counterfeit and many venues that your counterfeits may exist, such as e-commerce or social media platforms, will also have their content on web. However, assess this case and consult with solutions available in case you specifically need mobile app scraping as well.

  • Image recognition: Similar to how web scraping analyzes the text on the web, you can leverage image recognition algorithms to scan the images on search engines to identify matches with the product or the brand logo of your business to detect suspicious cases.
  • Hybrid Approach for elimination: Detecting a suspicious case is only the beginning of the process. Assessing whether the case is a counterfeit is as important and resourceful. Some solution providers will give you the ability to eliminate suspicious cases one by one or offer an AI-based solution that automatically classifies the most likely cases of fraud and takes action to eliminate those from the web. If you choose an automated solution, monitoring the performance of this classification is still important, because eliminating an authenticated actor or a fan production may harm your brand reputation.

Further Reading:

Check out our articles to learn more about best practices and challenges of web scraping:

If you believe that your business may benefit from a web scraping solution, check our list of web crawlers find the best vendor for you.

For guidance to choose the right tool, reach out to us:

Find the Right Vendors

This article was drafted by former AIMultiple industry analyst Bengüsu Özcan.

Access Cem's 2 decades of B2B tech experience as a tech consultant, enterprise leader, startup entrepreneur & industry analyst. Leverage insights informing top Fortune 500 every month.
Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst
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Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst

Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.

Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.

Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.

He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.

Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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