Meeting the challenges in on- and offline brand protection

What can brand owners do to fight back against counterfeiting and infringement, both on- and offline? To help answer this question, Novagraaf brought together a team of guest speakers, from a range of different disciplines, at its Brand Protection Seminar in Amsterdam last month. At the event, Novagraaf presented the latest addition to its range of services: Online Brand Protection.

Technology has revolutionised the ways in which we all work, shop and communicate. This progress has enriched our lives, but it has also offered up new channels for fraud and brand abuse. Brand owners today have to battle an increasingly sophisticated army of counterfeiters and online fraudsters, and not every IP department has the knowledge or resources to match. Could technology also provide some of the answers to their on- and offline brand protection challenges? This was one of the key topics addressed at Novagraaf’s Brand Protection Seminar, held in Amsterdam last month.

Brand owners and IP consultants shared best practices and discussed personal experiences at the seminar in order to provide more knowledge about current challenges in on- and offline protection. Of the many takeaways from the event, the need to establish a clear monitoring and enforcement strategy was considered a major difference between success – and failure.

Pick your battles and know how you want to fight them

It’s simply not possible for brand owners to act against every type of threat given the extent of counterfeiting online. Instead, the action and cost of enforcement needs to be proportionate to the impact for a business. As Sascha Schalkwijk and Marianne Hoekstra, Legal and IP Counsel at Novagraaf client Secrid, a designer and retailer of pocket-size essentials, shared at the event: “It’s important to fit your strategy into your corporate values. At Secrid, we believe in communicating and inspiring others to make a change. We believe in educating infringers rather than escalating to immediate action. That’s not always the easiest approach, but it’s a conscious choice that’s really grounded in our brand values.”

Speaker Katrina Burchell, founder of Burchell Consulting, agreed: “I think the biggest challenge is prioritising the return on investment amongst the volume of issues. It is easy to get stuck into worrying about every online infringement, but there is still considerable value in strategically investigating and planning to challenge and stop the source. The best strategy is to have strong foundations and a consistent approach.”

A mix of finesse and raw power

Here, technology is also playing an increasingly important role with new sophisticated software solutions that can help brand owners not only to identify infringement but also to control and automate the ways in which they respond. Technology is indispensable in managing the scale and speed of online infringement, but by itself it is not adequate to the task. More than this, the trained judgment of attorneys is essential to determine the optimal approach.

As Novagraaf CEO Lutgarde Liezenberg explained when discussing Novagraaf’s own tech-enabled solutions: “One of the key challenges facing businesses today is how to establish and execute effective online brand protection strategies without expending valuable in-house time and resources. If brand owners are to meet the threat of online infringement, they need to be able to act quickly and proportionately, and with minimal disruption to their internal teams. Novagraaf has redefined the ‘more with less challenge’ with its Online Brand Protection services. By combining the benefits of attorney advice with automated technology, we enable our clients to pre-specify their monitoring and enforcement strategies, so that we can act promptly and cost-effectively to tackle the threat on their behalf.”

Find out more about Novagraaf’s Online Brand Protection services at

Photo: John Post

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