The toy industry experiences one of the highest levels of counterfeit goods globally.
This is fuelled by the fact that toys are generally fairly straight-forward to replicate and in many cases, are being replicated in their original country of manufacture and distributed through similar supply chains.
The result is a direct loss to the IP owner as well as any licensees of the counterfeited products.
The EU estimates that over €1.4bn is lost annually in counterfeit toys, with 11.6 per cent of direct sales lost in the UK alone.
The financial damage is relatively well measured, however, the reputational risk to a licensee can be far greater. The damage to a brand caused by a child suffering an injury or worse as a result of a defective or sub-standard toy is far greater than the loss of sales.
In scenarios where defective products have been shown to be counterfeit, the brand owner needs to demonstrate that they have taken reasonable steps to protect their consumers and users of their products.
Companies do, however, have various means at their disposal to help reduce the number of their products being counterfeited and distributed. One such technology is IP Expression's IPEYE service.
As founders of IP Expression, we realise that trying to close down counterfeiters is a largely manual task that consumes time and money, so decided to change the approach to tackling this global problem.
Firstly, we looked at how the products were being sold and then set about building a highly automated service to tackle and block the marketing and distribution of the counterfeit products.
The IPEYE service uses original product design images as a reference to scan the internet for possible illicit marketing of similar products. The results are analysed and classified and based on their classification, the system begins an automated multi-pronged counter attack on the counterfeit distributors.
Standard take-down notices are sent and compliance with the request is monitored over a period of time. Where a distributor fails to respond appropriately to the notice, the system begins submitting block and removal notices to market places, search engines and domain registrars to have the offending distributor removed.
Basically, if you can't find it, you can't buy it.
With the speed of the internet, however, counterfeiters will quickly create other sites and distribute through those channels. The only way to counter this behaviour is to have an automated system that is constantly vigilant and quick to take down the counterfeiters.
The IPEYE system runs 24/7 to protect IP owners' brands against new threats of this nature.
Counterfeiting is a crime that affects us all; consumers, manufacturers and brand owners alike. Let's make 2018 the year to start ending it now.