Brand counterfeit is becoming an increasing issue nowadays. Luxury brands lose millions of dollars annually because of counterfeit merchandise and patents prove to not be enough to protect a product from being replicated or challenged by competition.
Having a Patent Doesn’t Guarantee Your Safety
Every cut-edge innovation needs to be patented in order to be protected from any replication for a number of years, ensuring the necessary return on investment to its rightful owner, be it a business, a multinational or an individual. But a patent cannot help protect you from any competition’s reaction. Brands usually choose a patent as a safe way to go for those categories of products that fit the bill.
A recent example of a competitor strike is from Hungary when Chio Chips launched a product very similar to the Lay’s MAXX Deep Ridged, earlier than the Deep Ridged launch. Their escape was that even though Chio’s potato chip looked similar, theirs was one or 2 millimeters less deep than the Deep Ridged one, so Lay’s couldn’t sue. “The patent owner is granted the exclusive right to prevent others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the patented invention” according to business solutions experts at UXC Eclipse, however there is no part of the law stating that competitors can’t launch a slightly modified version of the product that doesn’t fit the exact description of the patented one.
The Public versus the Law
One of the questions that remain is whether it would be easier to educate the public against buying fake branded products, or simply make the laws more drastic against such initiatives. Lawsuits pour against counterfeit sellers, but at the moment, they have the means to fight and if not win, than drag the process along a couple more years. But the ones that sell the replicated products for small amounts of money, are not the biggest issue. The worst ones are those who sell the fake, bad quality products for large amounts of money and start damaging the brand image in front of the consumer.
The complaints are often redirected to the mother company whose hands are tied and this creates a vicious circle of feeling cheated. Educating consumers in buying the branded products only from the company’s stores, and making them understand that buying counterfeit items will not give them the return on investment feeling that they hoped for, might have its perks. Unfortunately, many don’t care as much and this way, brands lose both in sales and in customers that choose to switch to other high class brands that are not so accessible to everyone.
Luckily, some more experienced consumers can see the differences between the actual products and the fakes, and refrain from buying them but these cases are too rare for the whole thing not to perpetuate. Most of the people who purchase the products are fooled into thinking that they are buying the real thing and most often consider it a big investment but are too shy to walk into the designated stores since they address a certain type of high end customer.
Possible Calls to Action
An idea would be for brands to acknowledge that they need to keep their targeted customers closer and try and make distinctive ways to inform their customers on how to spot a counterfeit product. That could help more than trying to intervene legally since it would take a lot more time. The issue needs to be solved soon since this could potentially hurt the economy in the future.