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Preview: Monitoring online platforms

Online platforms provide the opportunity for just about anyone to sell a product or service, without the resources required for brick-and-mortar commerce. That provides sellers of counterfeit and contraband goods with the perfect hiding place: in plain sight, among countless others, and isolated from the in-person scrutiny of a potential buyer.

Estimates suggest that 60% of all counterfeit goods are sold online, and brand owners essentially have two courses of action available to them: “Follow the protocols of the IP protection policies that all of the platforms have, or pursue and confront counterfeiters and start legal actions,” according to Virginia Cervieri of Cervieri Monsuárez & Associates in Uruguay, who will moderate a panel, CT21, on online enforcement on Tuesday. Many brand owners choose “cooperation” with e-commerce platform providers over “confrontation,” Cervieri says.

Tuesday’s panel will feature speakers from Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, Luxottica and Levi Strauss, who will present three cases demonstrating their coordination with popular platforms—Facebook, Alibaba and MercadoLibre. Each of these e-commerce platforms has policies to prohibit the sale of counterfeit goods and prevent IP infringement on their sites (as do most), but infringers can and do slip through. Once these counterfeit products are on the sites, “the brand owners, in my opinion, have all of the work,” Cervieri says.

“They have to monitor, notify the platforms and then wait for removal, which can take sometimes almost a week,” says Cervieri.

While the platforms do have policies in place, they are not proactive and place too much of the burden on brand owners, she adds. “The only other option available to brand owners is to confront individual infringers themselves and begin legal action. Neither option is efficient.”

The questions that will be addressed in the session, then, are: “Will the brand owners continue to cooperate, or will the platforms have to become more cooperative, and what are the common problems that brand owners are facing with these platforms?” says Cervieri.

CT21 Online Enforcement: Counterfeit Products, Contraband but Genuine Products, Parallel Imports is on Tuesday at 11:45

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