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The rapid growth in e-commerce over the past decade has increased consumers’ choice and access to goods online. This has led to consumers turning to major e-commerce stores including Alibaba, Amazon, eBay and Facebook to buy everyday goods.
Though almost all e-commerce taking place on these stores is legitimate, they can also be abused by those seeking to sell and distribute counterfeit and pirated goods. This undermines legitimate business, can be damaging to rights holders and can be harmful to consumers.
Many of the global e-commerce stores have developed specific tools to allow intellectual property rights (IPR) holders to report and remove infringing listings to protect their brands.
How do these tools work and where can I find them?
If you are a rights holder or an authorised representative of those rights, and wish to report instances of infringement to Alibaba, you can do so using the Alibaba Intellectual Property Group Platform (IPP). This will result in the take down of infringing listings as well as helping support Alibaba’s proactive monitoring processes. The more rights holders engage with this tool, the more effective the platform will be at proactively identifying and taking down future infringing listings.
You must first register an account on the IPP platform. You will be required to provide proof of your identity and proof of your IP Rights (IPR). Proof of IPR can include a copy of the certificate for registered rights (such as trade marks and patents) or a completed copyright claim statement for copyright.
Once registered, you will have access to the following benefits:
- submit complaints of alleged infringements and provide more information in support of this
- once the request has been verified, the listing will be removed, and the rights owner notified
- monitor and manage your enforcement activities
If you are a rights holder or an authorised representative of those rights, and wish to report instances of IP infringement to Amazon, you can do so by using the Amazon Brand Registry tool. This also requires registration and will gain you access to a set of tools to help manage and protect your IP rights in the Amazon store. Brand Registry is free and, by June 2019, 140,000 brands had already enrolled. On average, brands registered with Brand Registry are finding and reporting 99% fewer suspected infringements than before the launch of Brand Registry.
To register you will need a registered trade mark and provide evidence of ownership, or that you are authorised to operate on the owner’s behalf. Once registered you will be able to use search tools to search content by images, keywords or Amazon Standard Identification Numbers (ASINs), to identify and report infringements of your products.
There are also additional benefits afforded by registering including:
- having more control over Amazon product pages using your brand name
- powerful search and report tools identify cases of infringement
- submit reports to take-down infringing listings
- access to a global support team which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Transparency is an item-level tracing service where brands serialize each unit they manufacture with a unique code. Amazon then scans these codes and verifies the authenticity of the product before it reaches a customer. Customers can also scan the Transparency code via a mobile app to confirm authenticity.
Project Zero empowers brands to help Amazon drive counterfeits down to zero by combining brand knowledge with machine learning. Using the self-service counterfeit removal tool in Project Zero, brands can instantly remove counterfeit from the store. This information is fed into Amazon’s automated protections to allow more effective prevention of counterfeit listings in the future.
If you are a rights holder and wish to report instances of IP infringement to eBay, you can do so by using eBay’s Verified Rights Owners (VeRO) programme. VeRO is a notice and takedown programme which allows you to report instances of alleged trade mark, copyright, design and other IP infringements. More information is available on their customer service page.
To submit a notice of infringement, you must fill in a Notice of Claimed Infringement (NOCI) form and email it to email@example.com. From here their customer service team will help you become a member. More information on eBay Protect your IP with VeRO is available.
Participating with VeRO entitles you to many benefits including:
- assistance from eBay staff
- gain access to identifying information about eBay users
- rapid response by eBay in ending listings reported by you as allegedly infringing
- dedicated priority email queues for reporting alleged infringements
If you are a rights holder and wish to report instances of IP infringement to Facebook, you can do so by clicking on the following links. If you wish to report instances of copyright or trade mark infringement on Facebook you can do so by filling out their reporting a violation form. Also available are Frequent Asked Questions providing more information about reporting copyright and trade mark infringement on Facebook.
Facebook also have a separate tool called ‘Rights Manager’. This allows rights owners to identify and block infringing content by uploading audio and video files which are then scanned for matches on the platform. Rights Manager enables publishers to have control over how this content is then managed on the platform through a variety of ways.
For trade mark owners there is another tool available called the ‘Commerce and ads IP tool’. This allows brands to search their registered word trade marks in ads, Marketplace posts and group sale posts. Any infringing content identified can then be reported.
For more information on protecting IP rights on Facebook you can go to their IP Help Centre.