Online design

Dids Macdonald, CEO of Anti Copying in Design (ACID) looks at online design theft, and gives some indepth top tips about what you can do about it...

man looking at a design on the computer screen With the expansion of global markets emerges the challenges of finding solutions when copying is discovered on social media and online platforms. It can be daunting discovering knock offs and even worse, knowing what to do. Whatever your design sector, content is king and more importantly, your content. This is all underpinned by intellectual property, which needs to be protected.

Did you know that nearly 20 percent of UK SMEs have fallen victim to counterfeit product sales, amounting to severe financial losses for 93 percent of them. Moreover, an astounding £13.6 billion worth of fake goods infiltrated Britain in 2020, causing legitimate businesses to lose sales totalling £9 billion. The questions you need to find answers to include:
· Are you noticing any online threats against your brand?
· Are people using your images without your express permission?
· Are they using your registered trademark?
· Are your registered design rights being infringed?
· Are there sellers, not authorised by you, selling your products?

If the answer is "yes" to any of the above, help is at hand. ACID has recently formed a fantastic new partnership with Snapdragon Monitoring; a renowned online brand protection and reputation management specialist, aimed at safeguarding design businesses from the perils of counterfeits and intellectual property (IP) infringements. All ACID members will receive a free brand check and 15 percent discount on Snapdragon's fees.

Offering guidance and advice
The collaboration between ACID and SnapDragon aims to combat these issues by offering guidance, advice, and technical monitoring to protect assets. Leveraging SnapDragon's innovative AI platform, Swoop, SMEs can continually scour the web to detect brand threats, infringements on registered and unregistered IP rights, and counterfeit product listings. They can then take swift action to remove these threats before they damage sales, brand reputation, and even customer safety. Below are a selection of tops tips and advice to combat online infringement.

colour swatches on a computer screen What is a Take down Notice (TDN)
A TDN is a notice submitted to online hosts in response to allegations that the content that is advertised on its platform is in breach of its terms and conditions. The following are notes of differences for each platform:
· Facebook, Instagram, Twitter each use a varied tick box form for users to report a violation of their IP rights
· Facebook & Instagram Takedown Notice Copyright or Trademark owners can report a violation of IP rights through one of the online forms. You require – basic information about the infringement together with evidence and an account of why there is infringement, with reference to the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988. Submit this with a declaration to state your take down request is made on genuine belief. How long does it take? 2-3 days with either an acknowledgement of takedown or why it has not been actioned
· Requirements for request of alleged copyright infringement are an active Twitter account together with the following:
- IP owner's electronic signature
- Infringement identification & a link to original work
- Links for Twitter to locate the infringing material
- Your name, address, telephone number and email address
- A "good faith" statement
- If takedown is accepted, Twitter will notify infringing user, with a full copy of the complaint, with instructions to file a counter notice

Alibaba has an effective, easy to follow platform and policies to report infringement of IP rights. Amazon is different. It requires that an IP rights' owner or agent must have an active Amazon account and a take-down request can be for a design, trade mark or copyright or patent via an online form:
· Name of brand, mark or protected element, or a written description of the copyrighted work (or a URL link)
· The Amazon Standard Identification Number for the product you are reporting
· Your contact details including name, address, contact number
· "Good Faith Belief" statement
· There is a Free Amazons Brand Registry and an ability to enrol

watch straps on coloured boxes eBay. Rights holders can use eBay's Verified Rights Owner policy (VeRO). A Notice of Claimed Infringement (NOCI) can be submitted via this platform, to do so the following information is required:
· Contact details
· Details of the infringing item, product numbers or URL's will suffice
· A reason code
· Description of how the listing infringes your rights
· Registration of intellectual property information
The NOCI can then be submitted via email to or by fax to (801) 757-9521.

And some general tips:
· Become "IP Savvy" – know and understand what IP rights are relevant to you
· Register your trademarks and designs If you are relying on copyright for 2D work/images or unregistered designs, upload to the ACID IP Databank which will provide independent evidence of the date they are received by us supported by a unique tamperproof reference number.
· Photographs & images that you post to Facebook and Instagram, will have copyright and you are the owner of it. Your IP rights do not change, however you do give these social media platforms certain rights
· Under the T&C for use of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, which are usually accepted upon creating an account, you essentially grant them a non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, sub-licence which means they can: host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate and create derivative works of the content you post. Each of the above licences will end when your content is deleted from the platform
· On Etsy, eBay, and Alibaba, you authorise the selling platform to exercise all copyright, trade mark, publicity, and other intellectual property rights you have You also waive any moral rights to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law, promising not to assert any intellectual property rights in the content against the platforms, their sub-licensees, or assignees
· Amazon and Not On The High Street (NOTHS) are a little different. All content on any Amazon Service, such as text, graphics, logos, button icons, images, audio clips, digital downloads and data compilations is the property of Amazon or its content suppliers. All other trademarks not owned by Amazon that appear in any Amazon Service that are the property of their respective owners, may or may not be affiliated with, connected to, or sponsored by Amazon
· On NOTHS you grant permission to use, license, disclose and distribute any information or images provided by you for any purpose.

Rachel Jones, CIO, and founder of SnapDragon Monitoring, acknowledges the significant counterfeit problem, stressing that it affects businesses of all sizes: "Counterfeits are a huge problem, yet traditional brand protection has always been geared towards bigger businesses, though counterfeits affect companies of all sizes. It doesn't matter if you are a global enterprise, or a small boutique designer, if you have developed a product, you hold the rights to its ownership and fraudsters should never get away with banking on your success. We are in the business to support these organisations, offering them accessible brand and IP protection to help."

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