The value of brand and product protection and how to put them into practiceThe counterfeit industry is on the rise around the world as trade and consumerism continue to increase. In 2017, the value of global counterfeit products reached $1.2 trillion and it is expected to top $1.8 trillion by 2020. This includes everything from high-end luxury items to defense equipment.
This illegal trade results in billions of dollars in losses annually for a variety of industries, especially clothing and electronics. Although there are dozens of methods of product protection, and brands spend millions of dollars working to safeguard their products from theft, it’s still happening at an alarming rate.
A 360-degree brand protection strategy
The first step for a company to take is to legally secure the rights to any branding, products, processes, or patents you want to protect. Protecting the brand is the foundation of protecting your business against counterfeiting and fraud. Without this step, violations will go unpoliced without any basis for legal action.
Companies then face a difficult decision when on how to protect their products and their brand in the physical world. It’s becoming easier for criminals to thwart single-feature copyright and counterfeit protection mechanisms, which means businesses need more comprehensive solutions.
Multi-layered product protection is a necessity, and it is vital that organizations understand the options available to them. Counterfeit products do not only take a toll on your bottom line by stealing profit. They also damage your brand’s reputation in the eyes of customers, which can be much more costly in the long run.
What is product protection?
Product protection is divided into two categories: overt and covert technologies. A strong protection strategy will use both techniques for a multi-layered approach to security.
Overt technologies are visible but difficult to duplicate. Many people probably see these items every day without realizing they are anti-counterfeit tools. Overt product protection could be anything from a holographic label to watermarked packaging. Many companies use specialty ink that changes color or reveals a message when viewed from a certain angle.
Covert technologies are just the opposite. They require specialty tools and aren’t usually noticeable to the average person. This includes RFID (radio frequency identification), bar codes, and different markings that sometimes require certain wavelengths of light to see.
Although there are dozens of counterfeit deterrents available, companies struggle to implement them and sometimes set unrealistic standards. Some brands want to keep product protection invisible to customers, others don’t want protective measures to impede existing processes or require additional equipment, and others still are particular about the conditions and material used.
Unfortunately, these are all single-feature protection methods, and they are becoming easier for criminals to overcome. Introducing multi-faceted protection doesn’t just mean including another bar code or type of ink, it means having control over the entire process from creation and design to packaging and selling. Unless these steps are taken, brands are putting themselves and their products are at risk as their single feature systems and processes become compromised.
How do brand and product protection translate to the real world?
Securing legal rights to the unique IP, trademarks and other aspects of your business and investing in other protection methods is extremely important to brand safety, but bringing these elements into the real world is easier said than done. With counterfeiting on the rise and increasing mainstream theft, protecting your products and brand may seem like an insurmountable task.
Brand and product protection solutions make this easier in several key areas:
1. Providing evidence through each verificationBrands are responsible for gathering information and providing evidence in the event of a counterfeit or forgery. This is where product verification methods come into play. By tracking products from manufacturer to consumer to thief, companies can follow the product through its lifespan and start to pinpoint weaknesses in their security processes.
Implementing a protection strategy that spans the entire lifecycle of the product is critical for businesses to gather information and document counterfeit cases. It allows them to understand the full scope of the problems they’re facing and scale their solutions as needed.
2. Spreading awareness of misuse and fraud
Many customers are unaware of the efforts companies have in place to protect them from forged products. This puts them in danger of buying an inferior counterfeit product, which is not only harmful to the brand but can potentially be harmful to the end-user.
As brands track counterfeit cases, they can use the information to spread awareness and educate customers on potential fakes. Brands can tell customers what overt technologies they use to protect their products and what to watch out for from an inauthentic product. This could be anything from a style of button to package design.
If counterfeit products become a harmful enough issue that next steps are warranted, companies can share this information with law enforcement so they can work to stop the goods before they reach the greater market.
3. Raiding counterfeit product manufacturers
Counterfeit product manufacturers in countries like China take advantage of the lack of enforcement for intellectual property rights. They are often allowed to operate successfully for far too long.
Companies sometimes look to an outside law firm or group of local investigators to gather more information and conduct raids. Raids can shut down production, remove forged products from the market, and gather key evidence to start pursuing legal action. Not doing so only weakens the brand further and encourages thieves to continue without fear of repercussions.
4. Providing legal evidence when prosecuting a case
Tracking and documenting counterfeit cases is critical, especially when it comes time to pursue legal action. Intellectual property rights and counterfeit cases are very difficult to prosecute without substantial evidence. Companies that have multi-feature protection in place and are able to provide law enforcement with proper legal evidence stand a much better chance of succeeding.
Brand and product protection shouldn’t be reserved for large luxury brands. Small companies and startups need the same protection against fraud and forgery. U-NICA security solutions are scalable and easy to implement, so they will grow with you over time without interfering with your current systems.
At U-NICA, we enable our customers to fight against counterfeits, protect their products and brand values, and maintain trust in their brand. We have solutions for a variety of industries from automotive and electronics to fashion and food. Contact us today to learn about strengthening your brand with the proper protection.