The world of global ecommerce is constantly evolving, with exponential growth led by China. As millions of buyers migrate online there are new opportunities for consumers to discover and embrace well-designed branded products. Yet the technological developments that have made online shopping so easy have made online brand protection quite hard. It is easier than ever for individuals who create or distribute counterfeit goods to distribute their wares on marketplaces, search engines, websites and social media to unsuspecting consumers – or those seeking the cheap “knockoff.”
Consider the following factual scenario: A brand owner has patented a particular retail product and owns the intellectual property (IP) rights to the particular product. One day, the owner notices that knockoff products are being offered for sale on the e-commerce platform eBay. The owner petitions eBay to remove the infringing listing and documents his or her IP rights. Upon review of the request, however, eBay refuses to take down the listing or prevent the allegedly-infringing item from being sold. The owner thereafter files a lawsuit against eBay, alleging the e-commerce platform directly and contributorily infringed on its IP rights.
Under these facts, should the IP rights holder’s lawsuit succeed? Not according to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Alabama.
In what some legal experts are calling a landmark ruling, online retailer and e-commerce platform giant Alibaba prevailed in a lawsuit filed in China against a manufacturer accused of selling fake cat food through Alibaba’s Taobao website. The lawsuit resulted in a judgment of approximately $400,000 in favor of Alibaba, which is believed to be the first ruling of its kind in China. What makes this situation unique is that it is believed to be the first time in China that an online e-commerce marketplace such as Alibaba has been able to recover compensation for damages it has suffered itself as a result of counterfeit goods.
Patents are an increasingly vital part of the global economy. Each year more and more companies file global patents on inventions that in turn generate billions of dollars in revenues. In order to stay competitive, firms that depend on a strong intellectual property portfolio need to maximize the value of their own patents while avoiding potentially costly litigation. This is where having a highly skilled patent analyst on your side can prove invaluable.
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Since the early days of the Internet, online infringement of intellectual property (IP) has been a major problem for organizations around the world. Online file-sharing services have infamously facilitated the theft of billions of dollars from the entertainment industry via piracy. But even seemingly innocuous social media platforms like Instagram now play a significant role in marketing fakes and knockoffs on a worldwide basis. Continue reading →