Counterfeiting costs the global economy $500 Billion annually. One of the biggest trends that has contributed to the rise in counterfeit and pirated products is simply the expansion of ecommerce, online shops, and purchasing products through social media. It’s very easy for malicious actors to set up third-party vendor shops selling what look like authentic products. Customers who spend their time shopping online and browsing social media for new products are lured in, not knowing the difference. Additionally, our 2023 State of Brand Protection Report found that since the pandemic began, 74% of organizations have seen the volume of counterfeits increase.
Another factor that has made stopping these counterfeit parties harder to do is the rise in online privacy laws shielding personal information from public access. This means that even if a company is able to track down listings of their counterfeited products, they may not be able to find out who’s behind the online store in order to take action against them.
The good thing is that brands can take steps to protect themselves, including filing for trademarks, monitoring sites globally, and leveraging technology to help them in their search. Being aware of and anticipating the following predictions about the future of IP protection will help as well. Protecting your IP may be more challenging than ever, but brands that are prepared for the future of IP protection can be more proactive in protecting themselves. Here are five predictions for the future of IP protection that you should pay attention to.
Prediction one: Continued online buying means continued avenues for counterfeiters
Shopping online will only continue to grow, as worldwide ecommerce sales are expected to reach about $8.1 trillion by 2026. Additionally, the way we buy online will evolve as well. There will be a greater shift towards mobile purchases, and the vast majority of global ecommerce will occur on mobile devices. Considering that 83% of Instagram users use it to discover new products, we’ll see consumers make more of their purchases inside of other experiences, like through social media or games.
This means that counterfeiters will have much more opportunity to not only create and promote their sites, but to lure unsuspecting customers into them through legit-looking social media posts and shops.
Prediction two: Creativity will drive criminals
Entertainment and retail are only getting more creative in how they engage customers through technology, from shopping galleries in TikTok to AR experiences in a store. However, the creativity of entertainment and retail will drive the creativity of the criminal element, and customers may not know the difference in their interactions.
But creative criminals will require creative solutions. For example, if a brand offers AR interactions with their products in-store via a smartphone, they may need to protect themselves against AR IP violations, warranting a change in how IP property laws are viewed.
Prediction three: Counterfeiting will impact sustainable and resale goods
Consumers are becoming more interested in sustainability and circularity, which is already creating new purchasing and consumption options such as buying pre-owned goods and renting. These options will continue to expand over the next five years, creating more opportunities for bad actors to lure consumers into purchasing fake goods. This will, in turn, require brands to use more AI technology and other resources to identify super fakes, as well as authentic vintage products that may no longer be available on brand websites.
Prediction four: More on-demand products
Additionally, we’ll see a greater demand for made-on-demand or 3D-printed products — which can be easily counterfeited as well. However, less inventory stored by criminals will pose challenges to brand owners, who, with no inventory to raid, will need to turn to more investigative services and test purchases in order to uncover counterfeiters.
Prediction five: Web3, NFTs, and more
Finally, the continued evolution of Web3, and specifically the Metaverse and NFTs, will bring a host of new challenges. The decentralized nature of these technologies makes it much more difficult to track and enforce IP rights, as there is no single entity responsible for managing or enforcing them. Additionally, many decentralized applications allow users to create and share content without revealing their identity. This can make it difficult to identify the creators and owners of IP, and to take action against infringing content.
Written by Mark Lee, Co-founder of MarqVision.