What does brand protection mean to you? How many people within your company do you regularly talk to about brand protection?
Brand protection is still not a really popular topic among the general public and even within companies it is only known to a limited extent. The associated terminology is then usually interpreted individually. Without claiming to provide a generally valid definition of the term, we would at least like to explain how we distinguish between brand protection, brand value protection and product protection. In this article I focus only on brand protection. In further articles I will explain what our extended understanding of brand protection and product protection is.
Why do we explain these terms in the interpretation we use?
Because they are the guidelines on whose basis and differentiation, we base all our efforts to develop tools, technologies, methods and processes to support our customers in their fight against counterfeiting. From many conversations with relevant representatives from company departments such as marketing, brand protection, legal department, logistics, production and others, my conclusion is that a common understanding with others is usually very limited.
When they say that their commitment is focused on brand protection, the other person almost reflexively assumes that they are lawyers. This shows that the main assumption is that brand protection is a legal issue. This assumption is also correct in a certain sense, because one can almost say that everything begins with qualified legal work and at the very end, when infringements are detected, they must be dealt with by lawyers, regardless of whether an agreement, settlement or action is reached.
The first legal task is to secure the rights to the brand in the necessary legal areas and the corresponding existing possibilities. This also includes the rights and provisions for the use of the brand, contracts with partners, securing IP's, patents, etc. Only when these rights have been secured can violations be detected, and action taken against them.
If our efforts are not of legal nature, what is the contribution of U-NICA?
If action is to be taken against brand infringements, there are three elements which are a prerequisite. The rights must be secured, a concrete infringement must be established and evidence for measures must be available or developed.
We do not regard everything related to brand protection, brand value protection and product protection as a one-off effort. The totality of the measures must be continuously carried out, monitored and maintained. For this purpose, we have developed the U-NICA Protection Circle. In the beginning, product authentication often does not focus on the associated effect of protection, but rather on obtaining clarity about the situation, depending on the concept for a certain region, product or other specific aspects. This information can be used to identify an infringement and at the same time build evidence.
Based on these measures, it can be decided which further protection mechanisms should be used to obtain further evidence. This may mean extending protection to additional regions, products, or other aspects that are relevant to the organization in terms of obtaining additional evidence data.
Although the measures have already been taken from a brand protection perspective, it is usually not known at this stage, either from partners or on the market, that measures have already been taken.
In this silent or covert mode, as we call measures in this phase, market information is collected that provides information on how products move in the market, to what extent there is a risk to the brand from unauthenticated products in the market, where and in what concentration such products are located. The aim of this silent phase is to obtain sufficiently reliable information that allows us to plan further targeted measures and, for example, to decide whether, when and where a raid should be carried out in cooperation with the authorities.
In this context and in our understanding of Brand Protection, U-NICA's task is to apply the appropriate technologies to authenticate the products, collect and prepare the market data, gain illuminating insights and support the legal work in building a case with the appropriate tools.
In addition to all the contributions U-NICA makes to brand protection and product protection, these are the specific areas of activity we directly support with our tools, technologies, methods and processes in connection with our understanding of brand protection.
If, until then, the measures were silent or concealed, then at the latest following the conduct of a raid on the market, it is known that the company is defending its trademark or the associated rights. The mere fact that this first step became known communicated that measures had been taken to protect this product against piracy. This inevitably increases the risk for potential counterfeiters, which usually already leads to the number of counterfeits in the market for this product or brand being observed to decrease. Of course, this effect is not permanent. Therefore, our U-NICA Protection Circle is designed to monitor the situation and to derive new measures from the data. Regardless of whether it is brand protection, brand value protection or product protection, "protecting" is a continuous process.
Read more in the next BLOG, Brand Value Protection