Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Storehacks may earn a commission if you click a link to an external source.
If you've been selling merch that infringes on someone else's copyright then this article is for you. In the last couple of years, disruptive startups have emerged that are taking it upon themselves to become the internet police.
This makes me very happy. Too many times I have been scaling campaigns only to notice that someone has blatantly ripped me off. It wasn't ok then, it isn't ok now and it never will be.
As you become more successful you will notice that your products only stay exclusive to you for a few minutes. Once you've got runs on the board and those sales start streaming in, the filth of the industry takes note. They start launching those same products and designs on their own stores.
Before you get into this article I've covered off on the importance of adhering to your legal requirements in “13 eCommerce Laws You Must Know… or Risk Everything”.
I created Storehacks to help in the education of teaching ethical ecommerce. In layman's terms, to teach you how to get rich off your own hard work while looking after your customers.
What you're about to learn in this article will serve as a warning, a warning I hope that sets you straight and on the path to creating your own original content.
You're about to learn;
- What Copyright means
- About the Police…Who they are, what they can do
Your Days of Selling Counterfeit Merchandise are Finished.
It is strange how excited I am about the companies that have been created to protect peoples original works. The Counterfeit goods industry is worth $460 billion, and that's mostly just online. That was in 2016 alone and it's only bound to get worse as the barrier to entry to sell online has all but been removed.
That is until the likes of the following companies come into the market to clean up what has become a very dirty industry. Whether it's Amazon trademark infringement, Shopify or POD platforms if you're infringing they will find you.
This is good news for every legitimate seller out there and serves as one hell of a warning for those willing to make a dollar off someone else's hard work.
The first of the Internet Infringement Police is Counterfind. I first heard about these guys on Crunchbase and their story intrigued me to dig deeper…but first,
What is Copyright?
There are 3 main laws that you need to be familiar with when selling online. They are Copyright, Trademark, and Patent. The USPTO explains them as follows;
- Copyright – A copyright protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.
- Trademark – A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. Some examples include brand names, slogans, and logos.
- Patent – A patent is a limited duration property right relating to an invention, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in exchange for public disclosure of the invention.
Darren Woodson is a 3 x Super Bowl Champion and NFL Analyst. Having been a professional footballer he knows only too well the problem of counterfeiting and has dealt with his own fair share. And that's just from being in the NFL and being a great player.
After his NFL career, he was an early investor in FanPrint. A website that sells licensed Print on Demand products to fans of sports throughout the USA. With the rise of the POD industry and the willingness of early adopters to infringe, it is my hunch that Darren noticed a lot of their products were being ripped off…
Instead of getting frustrated (which I'm sure he did) he noticed an opportunity. An opportunity that led him to found Counterfind.com and receiving investments of $1,000,000 on a round of funding. Funding from the likes of Linkin Park.
So here's the warning. He's coming for you and with his growing list of clients he's quickly grown are coming for what's rightfully theirs. Clients including Dallas Cowboys, Universal Music Group, the WWE, Linkin Park and many, many more.
So what's so special about Counterfind?
It's their customized software that plugs straight into Facebook and Amazon's API's to identify any merchandise that is not licensed. Where it used to be an arduous task for these companies to get products taken down, the process has now been streamlined and automated.
So what happens when they find products that you've sold? They get removed. You get a warning, if you offend again… you cease to exist on the platforms. That is at least what happens on Facebook. You should be concerned. Their algorithms are trawling the archives. Ads from years ago that are sitting there are being found.
Just think, a man with this much success behind him and a network with more power than most countries this company is here to stay, and if you continue to infringe, something you won't be.
Another massive player in the fight against counterfeiters. Red Points closed a $12 million Series B round which was led by Europe-based Northzone. If you're infringing your days are numbered.
You will soon be living a much harder life than what you've come to know by making money off others blood, sweat and tears.
Red Points in a company based in Barcelona and provides an exclusive SaaS solution for the detection and removal of IP infringements. By being able to automate the process of removing infringing content illegal businesses are being shut down faster than ever.
Why is Red Points solution so good? It's advanced software monitors keywords through image recognition enabling detection of infringements in real time. But that's not all, by leveraging the benefits of AI, the software is always learning. Making it harder and harder to fly under the radar.
With massive investment in their software, they have a pretty powerful weapon that's zero'ing in on your position. How much content is it removing? Over 200,000 incidents a month.
IP Shark was founded by Derick Manlapeg & Dylan Davidson. Serial investors and mad passionate entrepreneurs. I couldn't find much information on these guys but this video sums up their offering quite nicely.
As more and more options become available we are going to see less and less content that blatantly infringes. This is incredible news for every legit seller in ecommerce.
Brandshield was founded by Brand Protection Industry Professionals David Fridman, Yoav Keren & Yuval Zantkeren. These guys have gone through rounds of funding as well and to date have raised over $1,500,000 to take on the counterfeit market.
One thing these companies all have in common is their incredibly smart algorithms and Brandshield is certainly a competitor in this space. Backed by Israel's Chief Scientist they are continually developing smarter solutions for entities of all sizes.
I've said it in previous articles. If you need to ask the question “Is this IP Infringement” there's an above average chance that you shouldn't proceed.
Adding to the Counterfeit mess is never ok. Because you've seen someone else doing it and getting away with it does not give you the right to do it as well. Be authentic, have standards and for god's sake build your own brand that customers will come to love.
Do you have something to add? Leave a comment below and let's have a discussion.