The first counterfeit Totseat I ever met made my blood boil.
It was the fury at someone’s audacity to copy it and the horror that it absolutely wouldn’t be safe to use.
While it looked ‘good’ in its packaging, the product told a very different story.
The best part is that the item had been seized at Customs. In fact, if you have registered your trademark with them, the brilliant CITEX unit at HMRC keeps an eye out for counterfeits for you.
It’s an easy process and for anyone importing toys and nursery products it is worth doing. They even circulate the information among their equivalent units in the EC.
From identification and confirmation that the goods are counterfeit, they arrange for their destruction. In our case, the local Trading Standards office also mobilised its counterpart in the right region to ‘take action’ against the importer. And take action they did, thankfully without involving us.
We had expected to meet a counterfeit at some point, that’s why we registered with CITEX. For them and various e-commerce portals, the strongest part of our armour is our numerous trademarks. Simple to manage, relatively cheap to organise, registered trademarks are worth their weight in gold.
E-commerce portals have to take down counterfeits by law, most people are aware of the systems of reporting to eBay and Amazon for example, and registered trademarks are absolutely vital in doing so. What was less easy was developing a system to police portals across the world and it was only when Alibaba got in touch, asking if we could help develop their processes,it became apparent our’s really work.
Now we have a team of linguists, data analysts and brand managers who not only monitor and take down counterfeiters but also help other brands do the same.
Whether it’s a safety concern, diverted legitimate income, or the potential to have your brand ruined; something can be done. And much you can do yourself.
Get your trademarks (design rights and patents) registered, register with CITEX, police the sites you can and report what you find. Then, get friendly with your local trading standards office.
Totseat’s own system – SnapDragon – can also help when appropriate. And if you need IP counsel and lawyers for a more formal infringement notice, we recommend people who understand the priorities of SMEs.
SnapDragon is a service for SMEs, it’s affordable and helps your trademarks do what they are meant to do.
Being proactive is better than fighting your corner when a counterfeit causes an injury.
Rachel Jones co-founded Totseat. SnapDragon Monitoring is a spin-out of Totseat and works with brands in the nursery and toy industry. Head of Research is Jet Doran: firstname.lastname@example.org