Counterfeit products being sold online goes farther than simply injecting fake products into the marketplace. In the daily battlefield that is e-commerce, search engine optimization (SEO) is the lifeblood of many businesses.  SEO uses key words and phrases to focus consumers’ online searches towards websites that most closely match the product or service for which a consumer is searching.

Not content simply to manufacture a cheap knockoff of a product, counterfeiters are now looking at ways to use SEO to further steal business from legitimate business owners. They can do this by manipulating the key words.  While they are prohibited by law from using the same brand name, they may try to come close to the brand name without using the exact name.

Selling Counterfeit Products With SEO

For example, a window company with the name See-Thru Windows may find their business encroached on by a counterfeiter that uses terms like C-Through or Clear-Through.  While the courts eventually may find that these terms are too close to the name of the legitimate business, how much business will be lost in the interim because consumers who are looking to replace their windows and do an online search will be fooled by the similarity?  And, more importantly, when the windows fail because they are of cheaper quality, can anyone be certain that an unhappy consumer will know to blame the counterfeiter?

For this reason, both in terms of economic loss and damage to a legitimate company’s reputation, counterfeiting has never been a more serious threat.  To guard against counterfeiters and protect a company’s intellectual property (IP), manufacturers and sellers may consider the following options:

  • Copyright – An exclusive right that protects the original work of authorship from duplication or unauthorized usage. Most frequently used in art, literature and music, this can also extend to other areas such as software or architecture, to name just a couple.
  • Patent – An exclusive right issued to the creator of an invention, a specialized process or a specific solution to a widely prevalent problem.
  • Trademark – Words, phrases or symbols that are legally registered and used to represent a company, product or, in some cases, a person.

While these steps are a good starting point, businesses need to be vigilant about IP infringement as it can take many forms.  Ference and Associates is prepared to help establish the appropriate IP protection against potential infringements, enforce your IP rights and litigate when necessary.