Trademark infringement is common in this digital ecommerce age. Goods will be manufactured in one country but they will somehow leave the country without the trademark owner’s consent. In the end, they will be sold illegally denying both the rightful business and consumers of trade benefits. This is what is referred to as gray market sales in business circles. If you ever hear parallel importation being mentioned in trade, it refers to the same thing. There is nothing wrong with the products in this case but the use of non-authorized distribution channels plus lost revenues are cause for concern. Luckily, there are proven strategies to combat gray market sales;
1. Market monitoring
In every region where their products are sold, businesses need to set up watchdogs to net prohibited channels. It is easy to monitor unauthorized sales – create an artificial shortage and observe as the market responds. Will there be areas where the shortage is not felt? Unauthorized sales should then be ranked in terms of volume to get a true picture of theft and lost revenue. The next step is to confront the sellers to assist in tracking the product journey.
2. Serving sellers with letters
What would you do if you got a letter informing you that you have been dealing in illegal business and you might be prosecuted? Probably seek immediate clarification to get to the root cause of the issue to save your business. Sending cease letters to sellers is another tactic of fighting grey market sales. A company should first investigate to find the identity of businesses involved in grey market sales before serving a cease letter. The cease letter should be accompanied by a legal complaint letter that threatens to take legal redress on the matter if the seller refuses to cooperate.
3. Expert help
With the rise of intellectual property violations, there has been a growing rise in the number of companies that deal with online fraud detection and anti-counterfeiting solutions. Working alongside online brand protection services not only helps to recover lost revenue but also promotes brand enforcement and enhances market share.
The world is constantly evolving and although globalization is a great tool for business success, it can be misused. Fighting technology with technology is the way to go. Every business with the hope to remain relevant in the future must deploy a brand protection strategy that is comprehensive in the manner in which gray market sales are to be dealt with.