Summit speakers impart wisdom on winning at brand protection

Brand protection shouldn’t feel like working a conveyor belt at high speed, but that’s the unfortunately reality for many businesses.

“I used to liken it to the ‘I Love Lucy’ episode where she’s working the chocolate factory, and the chocolate’s going by, and it’s her job to pick up each piece, wrap it up and put it back,” said Lauren Dienes-Middlen, Esq., SVP, Assistant General Counsel – Intellectual Property, WWE, Inc. “Then it starts to speed up and speed up, and she can’t keep up.”

The fourth annual New York Summit covered everything from changes in the world of domain names and WHOIS to emerging threats in digital piracy, social engineering, data breaches and more. Appearances included Sabrina Perelman of Facebook, Bob Barchiesi of IACC, Doug Isenberg of The GigaLaw Firm, Andy Forsythe of Nissan and others.

“These kinds of meetings are really wonderful if you’re just starting out to learn how to even look [to see] if you have a problem,” Dienes-Middlen said.

MarkMonitor’s Vice President for North America David Cooper introduced the event, which highlighted new ways of looking at digital protection that focus on protecting shoppers first and foremost.

It’s inherently more difficult to gain buy-in for a brand protection program that doesn’t focus on well-intentioned consumers, he explained. “If I search a platform in, say, China or Brazil, from my office in San Francisco, I will not see the same content that a local consumer in that market sees. Shockingly, a lot of solutions do not provide a localized capability to see that same content that your consumer sees. Volume [of enforcements] is important, but that’s not going to win the game.”

Discussions around education and training

Dienes-Middlen of WWE, who recommends a company-wide understanding of the importance of IP protection and the proactive involvement of legal teams, said that solutions should always be tailored to business needs – rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. She said it’s important to provide teams with meaningful reports to prove a program’s viability while continuing to ensure strategies stay relevant.

“When you have a specific budget, and you know your problem is going to grow, they need to really be able to tailor it for you,” she said. “Provide regular reports to your management to show them your success. They need to see the program is actually working.”

She touted the importance of filing trademarks in the right categories and in the right locations, such as where you will manufacture or where you might anticipate counterfeiting. Steve Estrada, Intellectual Property Counsel at WeWork, agreed on the importance of being proactive:

“Almost every brand needs a brand protection plan before they realize that they do, and they often learn that the hard way,” he said.

Senior Director, Brand Protection Technology & Innovation at Johnson & Johnson Kevin Weaver joined a panel on education, where he shared on the Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection’s (A-CAPP) ability to attack problems holistically with comprehensive solutions across supply chains, procurement, agencies and criminal justice. A-CAPP was founded on the idea that illicit trade and brand protection issues required a greater collaboration among industry peers, brands and agencies.

Privacy law challenges ahead

Global Policy & Industry Development Vice President for MarkMonitor Statton Hammock reviewed updates on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a complex privacy law which takes effect on May 25 and limits access to personal collected by registrars – the details of which play a huge role in overall brand protection and law enforcement efforts.

Without an approved and implemented model for a GDPR compliant WHOIS system, registrars will be forced to make decisions regarding the display of their WHOIS data. This will likely result in a fragmented WHOIS system until an interim compliance model is finalized and implemented, which will take between nine and twelve months.

“If there is a violation of the GDPR, the statutory damages, stiff fines and penalties are massive,” he said.

Hammock explained that this reinforces the importance of training, scanning technology and alternative databases. MarkMonitor has been actively involved in advocacy and policy development work to develop an accreditation and access model to gain access to the WHOIS data post-GDPR.

“If you’re doing a lot of brand enforcement in-house, then you need to prepare to do it manually,” he said. “…Time is of the essence. The sooner we get a model up, and the sooner we can get folks in this room accredited and given access to the full WHOIS, the sooner we can maintain a level of enforcement that we’ve come to rely on.”

MarkMonitor hosts a number of industry events to help educate businesses about online protection issues, including our 2018 Forum, happening on October 18. For details on this and more, visit our events page