Counterfeit Products

How Brands Can Economically Fight Online Counterfeiters

Organizations struggling with brand protection are looking for new ways to combat unscrupulous counterfeiters hawking counterfeit products. One lesser-known though increasingly popular method is to file emergency temporary restraining orders (eTROs). From 2019 to 2021, the number of eTROs filed increased by 70%. This is a less expensive, easier and faster way to deter would-be criminals.

Back in 2015, the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition estimated that there would be more than $1.7 trillion of counterfeit products sold through online platforms annually. Since then, this already large amount has skyrocketed. Just in the U.S., online counterfeit sales are now projected to reach $6 trillion by 2024. Sales of fake products cost millions of jobs and tremendous profit losses. Although millions of listings are removed each year by Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Wish and other online marketplaces, the listings quickly reappear, since it’s so cheap to repost them.

Lawsuits, lengthy investigations, raids and seizures are expensive, take time, and are only marginally effective. eCommerce counterfeiters, many of them foreign-based, often have only an email address and U.S. bank account and are loosely connected with websites that sell their phony wares. Companies have started to use emergency Temporary Restraining Orders (eTROs) along with preliminary injunctions, in cases where the listing is obviously fake. This lets them free the seller’s bank accounts connected to various platforms while the court prepares to examine the case. This gives the plaintiffs leverage in what can otherwise be a frustrating exercise. It is fast and cost-effective, acting as a powerful deterrent.

Brand protection is a top priority for many businesses, which is projected to remain the focus in the future. In 2022, by early August, there had already been 483 eTRO filings in the U.S., which was similar in 2021.

The number of eTRO filings was broken down into brand types—Consumer Products, Entertainment, Luxury and Automotive. Entertainment companies filed the greatest number of eTRO cases, with almost 43% of all filings. Consumer brands followed, with nearly 40% of eTRO filings.

The report, published by IPWatchdog, shows the number of eTROs by jurisdiction, year, industry and companies within each industry.

IPWatchdog – Baird, Samuel & Paterson, Noel – 13 October 2022

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