“Brands should use the most cutting-edge technology that they can afford and zealously protect their intellectual property.”
Rania Sedhom is the Managing Partner of the Sedhom Law Group, who has become well-known for her work in the intellectual property space. She has shared her expertise with everyone from Bloomberg Business Radio to CNBC. She now talks to simplyBrand about her insights about the counterfeiting industry and the role of cutting-edge technology like blockchain can play in anti-counterfeiting efforts.
1.We often hear stories about big brands being targeted by counterfeiters. However, counterfeiting impacts small to medium size companies too. Could you shed some light on this based on your client experiences as Managing Partner of the Sedhom Law Group?
Yes, thanks for asking. One example happens often on Amazon. A small company will sell a product that becomes quite popular. Counterfeiters will then copy that product, using inferior quality materials, and sell it on Amazon alongside the authentic product. Consumers then complain about the product and Amazon no longer permits the original brand to sell its products on the site. Counterfeiting can, therefore, have even more deleterious effects on small businesses.
2. The rate of businesses being targeted by counterfeiters based out of China is increasing at an exponential rate. Do you think there are any notable differences between the counterfeit efforts coming out of China, versus other countries?
Counterfeiting does occur in other countries, but certainly not at the same rate as in China. I’ve seen increased textile manufacturing fraud in countries other than China.
3. Given that American and European companies are often the targets of these counterfeiters, what particularly considerations are there for these companies given the difference in both location and language?
Like in all businesses, you must have feet on the ground. All brands need to hire someone, or several persons, who can not only fill the communication gap, but be frequently present in China, or wherever the brand is manufacturing.
4. simplyBrand is a blockchain-based anti-counterfeiting solution that helps businesses impacted by counterfeiting. We use blockchain technology and AI to track, monitor, analyze data about counterfeit goods online, and provide this data to both the targeted businesses, and also to enforcement agencies, who can use the data to take down the offending URLs. Do you think using a cutting-edge technology like blockchain and AI can help with anti-counterfeiting efforts?
Technology is like all else. It is helpful and worthwhile until it is used by counterfeiters. Then we need new technology again. However, brands should use the most cutting-edge technology that they can afford and zealously protect their intellectual property.
6. You were recently a keynote speaker on the subject of counterfeiting at a major luxury industry conference. Could you share what you spoke about?
Yes, and once again, thank you for your interest. I discussed intellectual property challenges with social media and content/image ownership.
7. As we just touched on, our technology constantly monitors the internet for instances of counterfeiting. This allows businesses to be alerted much more quickly than if they were monitoring the internet manually themselves. Given that time is of the essence when responding to any legal matter, let alone counterfeiting, can you see how our technology-driven method could be an improvement on the usual approach?
Yes, time is of the essence and that type of technology can prove very useful. The technology not only functions faster than an individual or group researching manually, as the technology develops, it will likely be more accurate.
8. Are there any future trends you foresee in terms of online counterfeiting that businesses should keep an eye on?
At the top of my list is 3D printing technology, which for fashion will most likely be both a blessing and a curse. The technology will allow designers to achieve to create new textiles and styles, create new jobs in fashion and technology, and be limited only by their imagination. However, as counterfeiters learn how to use the printers, and steal or duplicate the software, counterfeiting will surely increase.
9. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
I’ll leave you with what I tell my clients. Stay true to your brand, surround yourself with an excellent team (both in house and outside), act with passion, caution and aplomb, protect your company (your designs, what you’ve built), create outstanding relationships, and the rest will fall into place.
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