Given an increase in online shopping, ever-evolving consumer behaviours & changes in the way products are being bought online, owners of brands worldwide are now facing hitherto unseen & bigger challenges. And topping that list of challenges is, undoubtedly, protection of a brand during the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, quite a few of brand owners had developed strategies aimed at protecting a brand & combating the sale of counterfeits. Interestingly, the market of counterfeit products is now estimated at five hundred billion dollars, which accounts for nearly 3% of global trade. So, where do all these goods come from? The bulk of the counterfeit goods is delivered from the countries of Asia & is then distributed via numerous online stores. This poses a real & imminent threat to owners of brands & causes them to take steps aimed at protection of trademarks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Selling Goods at Inflated Prices
Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, quite a few online stores specializing in the sale of personal hygiene products, such as masks & hand sanitizers, have increased their prices severalfold. Know as price gouging, this practice is prohibited in some states of the US & EU. There is even a special task force in Great Britain charged with cracking down on sellers attempting to make a profit during the coronavirus pandemic.
To combat this shameful practice, some of the major online trading platforms have taken very harsh steps. In particular, Amazon & ebay have removed several thousand of accounts, the owners of which were engaged in the sale of personal hygiene products at inflated prices.
Producers of counterfeit products were quick to respond to a surge in demand for personal hygiene products. It comes as no surprise then that the number of masks & hand sanitizers available online has increased dramatically. The majority of such goods aren’t authentic and are frequently referred to as imitations due to their outward resemblance to genuine products. Their manufacturers achieve this by copying certain design elements or packaging of well-known products. Frequently, imitations like these do not bear the name of a famous brand, thus making it difficult for their owners to identify them & prevent trademark infringement.
Using famous brand names without the consent of their owners is another shameful practice producers of coronavirus products have been resorting to lately. An example of this is a mask bearing a Bentley logo which is now freely available on Amazon in Great Britain. Surely, registering an international trademark would take counterfeiters a lot of time & effort, so they take a path of the least resistance.
Rising Numbers of Imitations
Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there hasn’t been any notable slump in the supply of counterfeits, and that includes a broad range of product categories. The most likely reason for this is the shutting down of enforcement on the part of customs personnel & owners of brands. This, coupled with the failure of brand owners to register an international brand, encourages counterfeiters to sell their products through multiple online stores.
During the coronavirus pandemic, consumers tend to be spending more time online, thus falling an easy prey to all kinds of scammers & counterfeiters. The latter are taking advantage of the situation by creating fake websites or social media accounts & promoting non-authentic products. Due to their inferior quality, cheap imitations produced under famous brand names can damage their owners’ reputation by undermining the trust of their consumers & diminishing their value. Therefore, ensuring trademark protection is now on top of the list of their concerns.
Counterfeiters have been quick to respond to demand for coronavirus products by flooding the market with cheap imitations. They have also come up with their own ways of branding & marketing their products which enables them to avoid criminal responsibility & disregard trademark law. The growing demand for personal hygiene products has also resulted in brands unassociated with hygiene & safety being linked to goods in this sector.
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