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What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property comprehends different laws and legislation. Below the fundamentals! Do you have trademarks and are people infringing on your IP rights? Let us know and we will advise you on how you can protect your brand(s).

Brand Protection Basic Knowledge

What are fake or counterfeit products?
Fakes, replica, counterfeits, knockoffs, rip-offs, unauthorized products, imitations, copy, UA, 1:1. These terms all refer to products that are intended to imitate the original product. These fake products are not manufactured by the actual brand owner and are therefore illegal. Selling fakes is a criminal offense.

What is copyright?
Pictures, paintings, lyrics, music and other work of arts are protected with exclusive rights also called copyright. It is a form of intellectual property. Using these works of art without authorization is an infringement of the intellectual property rights of the creator. The software of Pointer Brand Protection monitors the internet for copyright infringements.

What is a trademark?
Often a trademark can be recognized by the R symbol or TM symbol. A trademark is a logo, design or mark which identifies products or services. Use of these trademarks is restricted to the trademark owner. Unauthorized use or misuse of these IP rights is an infringement and can result in legal actions from the trademark owner.

What is a design right?
The visual design of objects and products are protected by intellectual property.

What is a patent?
A patent is granted to a person or entity that invented a new and useful non-obvious process, the machine or composition. Copying or utilizing patented without permission is not allowed.

What is GDPR?
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), adopted on 14 April 2016 and due to take effect on 25 May 2018, is now very much in the news.   On the face of it GDPR does good things – it protects the citizens and residents of the EU from privacy and data breaches. GDPR has very wide reach, applying not only to EU companies, but also to all companies (wherever they may be located) that process and hold the personal data of EU subjects. Under GDPR consent is key: personal data can be stored if the person involved has given informed and unambiguous consent to that storage. GDPR is no laughing matter – the EU authorities will be able to impose fines of up to €20 million or 4% of turnover (whichever is the greater) on companies that fail to comply with GDPR.

What is WHOIS?
WHOIS is something that’s been with us since the 1980’s, ever since those early days of the internet.  WHOIS is the system whereby the companies that register domain names (domain name registries, GoDaddy would be an obvious example) not only take the personal information of those people and companies registering domain names, but also list that information in publicly-accessible WHOIS directories, making the information easy to find through free WHOIS search tools. Transparency has always been at the heart of the system.

So why exactly are the domain name registries so wedded to WHOIS?  Simple, they’re contractually required to do it. The domain name registries acquire their authority to register domain names from the international body that’s responsible for the entire domain name system, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN has licenced a large number of domain name registries to register domain names and it is one of ICANN’s requirements that they all follow WHOIS.

WHOIS is regarded as a very important, if not invaluable, tool for those involved in, inter alia, enforcement activities, security research, WHOIS data analytics and journalism. An obvious example who be brand enforcement – anyone wanting to find out who is behind the online counterfeiting of a brand would start off by establishing who registered the domain name through which the counterfeiting operation is conducted. WHOIS unfortunately also has a negative side, in that the information it contains is also a source of great interest to spammers and hackers.

So on balance WHOIS is laudable. Although it is worth bearing in mind that secrecy is still available at a cost – domain name registries do offer users an option of hiding data, but they do need to pay for that privilege.

What is parallel import?

Parallel import, also known as the import of grey market goods, exists when genuine goods, containing intellectual property rights, are imported for sale on markets and territories without the brand owner’s explicit consent. A simple example would be an item bearing a trademark, for example a coffee maker, which is sold on and intended for the United States market, but is then imported from the United States to the European Union without the trademark owner’s permission. In that case, even though the goods are genuine, the act of importing to a country, for which the rights owner has not given their explicit consent, would constitute an intellectual property rights infringement – parallel import.

What is important to mention is that parallel import could occur for products protected by copyright[1], trademarks[2] and patents[3]. The rules in relation to parallel import depend on the territorial application of the rights in question. From European Union law viewpoint this act is prohibited as the ECJ has established in early case law.[4]

[1] Directive (EU) 2001/29/EC, art. 4.

[2] Regulation (EU) 2017/1001, art. 9(2)(c) and Directive (EU) 2015/2436, art. 10(3)(c).

[3] C-15/74, Centrafarm B.V. and Adriaan de Peijper v. Sterling Drug Inc., 6 IIC 102 (1975) Negram III.

[4] C-10/89, Cnl-Sucal NV SA v HAG GF AG (1990), C-9/93, IHT International Heiztechnik v Ideal Standard (1994), C-55/0 and C-57/80, Musik-Vertrieb Membran and K-tel Int. v GEMA (1981).

Ad hijacking

Ad hijackers use techniques like geo-targeting and dayparting that make it virtually impossible to find them without the help of an automated paid search monitoring tool.

This is when an affiliate tries to impersonate the brand by running search ads that look identical to the brand’s ads. By using similar headlines, descriptions,  and the same display URL, these affiliate hijackers increase the odds that unsuspecting users will click on their ads instead of the brand’s ads. These clicks convert to purchases, which means the affiliate earns 5-10% commission on these purchases. In short, these types of affiliates are stealing money in the form of unearned commissions from brands.


Fighting counterfeiting and piracy is a battle. The question is – are you winning? Pointer Brand Protection provides a complete and market-leading brand protection strategy that makes a difference. To ascertain if your brand is at risk or to determine the effectiveness of your current strategy, we can provide you with a free and customized risk report and live demo.

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Social media has opened up numerous modern selling methods for sly and crafty counterfeiters. No longer do they have to hide their wares down dark alleys and in car boots; peddlers of counterfeit products can now simply offer their goods online – and no one is the wiser.

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