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Trade Mark protection in a time of crisis and counterfeiting

31st March 2020

 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate, several consumers have resorted to bulk-buying everyday products to avoid taking frequent trips to the supermarket. Others have chosen to do their shopping as swiftly as possible, taking the least amount of time, rushing to get back to their homes.  As the demand for food and household products rises, shortages become a concern and consumers pay less attention to the products they purchase as they are panic buying.

 

In such times of crisis, brands are targets for counterfeit due to the trust and goodwill they have with their consumers.  Particularly, right holders in the medical products sphere and those in the food and beverage industry should be more attentive to possible brand-pirates using the crisis in their favour to benefit from the sudden increased demand for food and household products.  It must be noted that counterfeiting is not restricted to high value products; on the contrary, a low-value product which is high in demand can also prove to be very profitable when counterfeited.

 

What is a counterfeit product and how does this impact your brand?

 

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) defines counterfeit trade mark goods as “any goods, including packaging, bearing without authorization a trade mark which is identical to the trade mark validly registered in respect of such goods, or which cannot be distinguished in its essential aspects from such a trade mark, and which thereby infringes the rights of the owner of the trade mark in question under the law of the country of importation.”

 

Counterfeiting damages consumers’ goodwill and trust in a brand when they assume a counterfeit product is a genuine one.  A more serious concern for food brand owners is health and safety, as counterfeit products are generally untested and might not fulfil the food safety requirements.

 

How can Ansons Help You?

 

Ansons can help you identify potentially infringing marks while also offering ancillary services as follows:

 

Registering your trade mark

 

A standard way of protecting a brand against opportunistic counterfeiters is to register your intellectual property rights within the key markets in which the goods and services are offered.  Registration then ensures that rights can be enforced and a potential infringement case can be brought.  Ansons offer registration services in the UK, Ireland,  the EU and internationally.

 

Watch Service

 

Trade mark rights need to be monitored and watch services help to trace any potentially infringing marks being registered. Such watch services provide reliable notice of counterfeiters’ efforts to secure trademark rights and provide an opportunity for the brand owner to intervene.

Ansons can secure a watch service for you.  Trade Mark right holders must also monitor what is going on in the market place and must advice its sales team to keep an eye out for any potential conflicting trade marks or activity on the ground.

 

Customer Complaint Portal

 

As a brand owner, you are highly encouraged to set up portals for customers, distributors and retailers to communicate any potential counterfeits of your brand.

 

Should you would wish to register a trade mark or require any further information or assistance regarding your trade marks, please do not hesitate to reach out to Ansons at info@ansons.co.uk or to Maclachlan and Donaldson at mail@maclachlan.ie.