Tracking Trademark Infringement: Fake Goods Investigations Save Brand Reputation

fake NFL jerseys

Courtesy: ICE Homeland Security Investigations. Seized NFL jerseys.

Trademark infringement effects companies big and small. The black market uses well-known brands to make a buck. It hurts the trademark owner’s profits and reputation. Private investigators identify potential risks in trademark cases and find the parties selling fakes.

Fake goods are everywhere

Companies invest millions before their products appear on retail shelves. To protect the investment, a brand must protect its trademark.

Flea markets, auctions, sporting events, and online marketplaces are full of counterfeit goods. It happens to most national brands leading to fake designer purses, sports apparel, and electronics.

The Feds crack down on counterfeit merchandise at big-time sporting events like the Superbowl, Final Four, and World Series. However, it takes a fraction of the fake products off the market. Companies need to stop fake goods too.

Counterfeits hurt brand reputation

Counterfeit products hurt the brand reputation and may pose safety concerns. Customers don’t always know the product is fake.

Eventually, the fake’s quality may catch the customer’s attention. The designer purse rips, or the threading frays. Even worse, a customer is damaged by a product like a fake UL listed power strip.

When problems arise, customers blame the name brand even though they have nothing to do with the fake and its poor quality. It’s the trademark owner / retailer who usually informs a customer that they got duped and bought a fake replica of the real product.

Knockoffs are not the only problem. Name infringement is also an issue.  Competitors use the loyalty and brand reputation of well-known companies to gain an edge by creating a company with a similar name, sound, or logo. The goal is to confuse the public, and gain a competitive edge from the established brand.

trademark infringement and fake goods

Courtesy: ICE and Homeland Security. $500,000 worth of fake merchandise at an auction.

Tracking trademark infringement

Name infringement and counterfeit products cause brand damage and ultimately lost profits.

It’s not difficult to track down the responsible parties in a name infringement situation, but a private investigator still boosts a company’s case. Searches of the deep web may uncover revealing evidence that can make or break the legal case.

Counterfeiters hide their tracks so it’s more difficult to track them down. They are here one day and gone the next. That’s how they get away with it. That’s why the trademark owner bears the brunt of the customer criticism.

Cash is used for transactions at flea markets and auctions, leaving no financial tracks behind.

It’s even easier to hide your tracks online with fake addresses and domain privacy. It takes sophisticated tools to crack open the dark web and find a company’s digital footprint.

Even though the digital tracks lead to dead ends, the PI doesn’t assume anything. He starts the investigation following a normal customer’s actions. Searching the web, placing an order, and even calling a company. The investigator is trained to find valuable information in everyday tasks.

Then, the investigator digs deeper. Public records, social media, archived websites, and alternate domain names are searched. It’s not just finding these hidden clues, but making sense of all of them.

Sometimes these investigations lead overseas. With connections to reputable investigators in other countries, a PI can connect the dots even if the trademark infringement starts on another continent.

No matter which investigative technique is used, it’s done in an ethical and efficient manner.

Trademark investigations stop brand damage

When the trademark infringement investigation is complete, companies are provided a comprehensive report that summarizes the facts of the case. It also focuses on potential pitfalls of a trademark case.

Trademark infringement is not always a slam dunk. Well-known brands lose trademark cases.  The investigation helps attorneys gather compelling evidence to win a case in court.

When someone sells fakes of a trademarked item, it’s more than just a legal issue. That’s why a private investigation helps a brand make decisions. The size of the fake network, amount of customer deception, and the estimated brand damage can be estimated.

This information helps companies make better decisions on the legal matters surrounding trademark infringement and continuing marketing efforts of the trademarked goods.

Spread the word. Share this post!