Cracking the Whip on Intellectual Property Infringement

Abercrombie & Fitch revealed today that it will be expanding its fight against counterfeiting with its Brand Protection team, which will be headed by Shane Berry, a former Supervisory Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The Brand Protection team will focus on improving its current strategies with regards to eliminating counterfeit A & F products.

As counterfeiting problems, particularly in the designer clothing arena, continue to increase, undermining companies’ sales, I think we will see more moves like that of Abercrombie. Companies need to take a very active role in protecting their brand. Launching counterfeiting programs and staffing them with former law enforcement officials who have experience in counterfeiting investigations is a good step towards protecting a company’s brand. Former FBI agents are great at ferreting out infringement through their training and experience and from obtaining and working with informants, among other things. In fact, Fortress Global’s IP infringements investigations are also conducted by a team of former high ranking FBI and INTERPOL agents.

Companies addressing counterfeiting issues by establishing a brand protection team and conducting intellectual property infringement investigations should also make sure that they are getting a solid bang for their buck with the evidence they gather from these investigations. Companies should take legal action against all copyright, trademark and patent infringers, no matter how minor the offense is and make sure that the lawsuit receives media attention, working with public relations teams as necessary. It will send a chilling effect out to infringers- “Abercrombie has a zero tolerance policy for infringer, don’t mess with them”. Additionally, companies should gather evidence in of infringement in the jurisdictions where counterfeit merchandise is being manufactured in and distributed to. Legal action should be taken against both the manufacturer and the distributor. If your company establishes itself as a force to be reckoned with in the intellectual property world, counterfeiters are sure to get the word and intellectual property infringement problems will thereafter decrease.