When you have a great business, you should be ready for someone to come and try to steal it from you or at least to make some profit from it. Many brands have clones that resell their products or merely scam buyers. Such clones can negatively impact the image of your business resulting in you losing the loyalty and trust of your target audience. Fortunately, there are ways of safeguarding your brand against infringement.
Types of brand infringement
As a business owner, you might face different approaches scammers use to make a profit off companies. Here are the most popular methods they use.
Counterfeiting is when malefactors distribute or manufacture products using your brand name or intellectual property rights without your permission. We can define two types of counterfeit trade.
The first kind is knock-offs that roughly imitate the original product. Such goods usually are very low-quality and don’t use original branding or trademark. Even though it’s not straightforward counterfeit, distinctive similarities between your products and knock-offs can confuse customers and make them think that these low-quality items are also a part of your brand. Consequently, they will think of you not as highly as you want them to.
The second kind is real counterfeits consumers can’t really tell from original items. Often manufactures of such fakes have access to materials that allow them to create very realistically-looking products. Also, such scammers usually have well-working and rather wide distribution networks.
That’s why real counterfeits are more dangerous for your brand than knock-offs. Customers can rarely tell a genuine from a fake item, so they can buy the counterfeit without any second thoughts. The issue is that fakes usually don’t comply with the quality requirements. Thus, they will break quicker. And obviously, your brand will lose the trust of consumers, because the fake was released under your name.
Other types of infringement
While counterfeiting is the most common and, probably, harmful way scammers make a profit of brands, there are other approaches such as:
- Copyright infringement — the unauthorized use of intellectual property protected by copyright.
- Patent theft — the unauthorized manufacturing or selling of a patented item.
- Trademark infringement — the use of a trademark without the permission of an owner. A trademark is a logotype, pattern, phrases, or any other elements that are associated with the brand.
- Design theft — the unauthorized use of a patented design. It is quite similar to patent theft. The difference is that the scammer is using only the looks of the original item.
Scammers carry our infringement in various ways. They might create copycat or rogue websites that look just like yours. The differences between the original and fake websites are very subtle, and most customers won’t notice them. Another approach is to use phishing techniques to scam people. Additionally, malefactors might impersonate you on social media or claim to be partners with your brand.
As you can see, there are many methods scammers can use. And it’s virtually impossible to manually detect all the fakes and frauds that can harm your brand. That’s why many businesses use web scraping to protect their brands.
What can you do to protect your business?
Brand protection is a complex process that needs you to be proactive. Here are the steps you can do to safeguard your company from malefactors.
Power of automation
Gathering large volumes of data might seem daunting — after all, there may be hundreds of data sources to analyze and siphon the data from. This is where automation comes to rescue: We can deploy specialized software to automate the web scraping process. Instances of this software are colloquially known as "bots", "crawlers", or "spiders".
Out of all programming languages, Python is arguably the best choice for developing web scraping solutions: With powerful automation libraries like Selenium available at the developer's fingertips, it offers a modern approach to web scraping.
🔎 Further reading: An extensive overview of Python web crawlers
Register your brand domain
It might sound like a weird tip since most modern businesses have websites. But lately, many small brands don’t feel like they need a site — instead, they’re using platforms like Etsy, Instagram, and Facebook to promote and sell their products. And for most small businesses, this approach works just fine. Yet, they should still register their domain name so that someone else doesn’t steal their brand.
The thing is that customers are more likely to trust the website rather than a social media account. So they will buy counterfeits from the site that seems to belong to the authentic brand without any second thoughts. If you register the domain name, malefactors won’t be able to use it to fake your brand. And maybe later you will arrive at the point when you want to create a site.
Trademark your brand
It is a complex process, but the result is worth the effort. When your brand’s name and identity are registered, you can easily prove in the court that your business was stolen if such an event happens. Also, don’t forget to renew your trademark. If you get yourself an attorney who is aware of all the trademark rules, they will tell you everything you need to know.
Monitor your brand and take actions immediately
The crucial part of brand protection is constant monitoring. Scraping and proxies will help you with this complex task, and we will discuss them in detail furthermore. Also, you can set up Google alerts and other tools like SocialMention that will notify you when someone mentions your brand on the Internet. Once you notice that your business might suffer from infringement, you need to act right away. You can begin by contacting the one who is trying to steal your brand and tell them to stop their activity. If your request was ignored or declined, you can begin the litigation.
How can web scraping help you to protect your brand?
With scraping it will be much easier for you to get rid of all existing fakes and monitor the market to quickly detect and wipe new ones.
Solid intellectual property portfolio
To protect the brand, you need to understand clearly what elements are under your ownership. With a definite and extended patent portfolio, it will be effortless for you to prove that the scammer stole something that belongs to you. Otherwise, the malefactor will have a chance to convince the court that the intellectual property doesn’t belong to your brand.
Creating the intellectual property portfolio, you should also prioritize possible threats and establish the strategy you will use to manage them. It will help you manage and target infringements and counterfeits in the correct order without getting overwhelmed.
It is the primary pillar of business intelligence. You need to have all the required data in your hands to see the threats and manage them properly. Therefore, you need to gather information from all the possible e-commerce websites located around the world. Thus, you will clearly see which products are affected, in which countries, and so on. Proper data scraping provides businesses with all the details they need to know.
With web scraping, you can gather information from e-commerce websites to see if there are any fakes of your products. Also, you can monitor online advertisement campaigns and social media platforms to detect your counterfeits or cases of brand infringement.
Additionally, scraping might help you establish a network of partners — the marketplaces that might sell your products. Thus, you can create the connection in advance, so that in case scammers begin selling your fakes on a certain marketplace, you can contact the owner of a platform and quickly resolve the issue. Moreover, you can warn your partners in advance about your counterfeits.
How to use proxies for brand protection?
Residential proxies are a great tool for brand monitoring. If you’re performing this activity manually, you can use proxies to check the required platforms from different locations. Doing so, you will make sure your brand has no counterfeits in other countries. Infatica offers numerous locations from all over the world, so it will be easy for you to just switch to another country.
Also, proxies will help you bypass some geo-restrictions and avoid blocks during web scraping. Infatica has a wide pool of IPs — over 1 million residential proxies — so you can rotate them to speed up the data gathering process and remain unnoticed. If you’re not sure which pricing plan fits your needs better, just drop us a line, and we will help you make the right choice.
It’s vital to remain proactive if you own a brand. Malefactors are always ready to chew off a piece of someone’s success, and you shouldn’t think that your business will be an exception. Brands of all sizes suffer from infringement. So leverage the power of scraping and proxies to be sure your company is protected from thieves, and your customers won’t get fooled with counterfeits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Second, if you scrape a website for commercial purposes, you should make sure that your scraping bot doesn't cause excessive load on the site's servers or overload their bandwidth. You may also be violating the site's terms of service if your scraper negatively affects their ability to serve normal traffic levels.