Words of wisdom from patent attorneys on how to crackdown on knock offs

How to protect your bike brand against counterfeiters

How big is the counterfeiting problem in the bike trade? In an industry notoriously poor at collecting valuable statistics, it is hard to know for sure, but potentially dangerous knock-offs certainly are an issue, including infamous fakes like Chinarellos.

Patent and trade mark attorneys Appleyard Lees has some nuggets of wisdom on protecting against counterfeiting within the bike industry, via senior associate Robert Cumming and associate Chris Hoole…

Brands that want to maintain their reputation, and not risk getting dropped from the peleton, will implement a brand protection and anti-counterfeiting strategy.

In this article, we look at the sort of steps manufacturers can take to help avoid counterfeit potholes.

What is being copied, where and how are they made available?

Everything from bike frames to cycling socks can be found on the counterfeit market. Most worryingly perhaps, safety devices which cyclists rely on to prevent them from serious injury, like helmets and brakes, haven’t been able to escape the fake. In most cases, these products will not have been through any safety tests and may fail UK and EU regulations. Often, these products will also be sold as the ‘real deal’ at slightly lower prices than the original, leading consumers to believe they are getting great value for money.

China and Taiwan are still recognised as the leaders in counterfeit manufacturing, and since the rise of online platforms including Alibaba and AliExpress, it is now easier than ever to buy a knock-off ‘Look 695’ carbon frame or ‘Mavic’ wheelset.

Future of cycling fakes

As technology improves, new and easier ways to manufacture counterfeits are discovered. Once only available to aerospace engineers, 3D printing, for example, is now available meaning consumers and manufacturers can print cycling parts at will. A cursory search for ‘bike’ in www.thingiverse.com, a computer generated image sharing platform, generates results from Garmin mounting brackets to saddles.

How can you protect your brand against counterfeits?

There are various measures you can take to minimise the risk of counterfeits and to enforce your rights against the fakers:

· REGISTER, REGISTER and REGISTER! Register your trade marks, designs and patents, in (1) your principal country of sale (2) any markets of present or future interest (3) your place of manufacture and (4) any country which is known for counterfeit manufacture and distribution. Not only will this help you to enforce your rights but it allows you to freely manufacture and distribute your products. If, for example, a counterfeiter registers your brand in China, it could actually stop you from manufacturing and exporting your own products! Get there first.

· You can also register your trade mark and designs with UK and foreign customs authorities. China’s customs enforcement is continually improving and with the rise of the AIC (China’s anti-counterfeiting body which employs 500,000 people), it’s now more important than ever to register in China.

· Monitor online websites and file regular take down notices. By hitting the ‘shop window’, this can deter and damage infringers. Eventually they will chase a softer target.

· Document your design processes. If any when you need to enforce your rights, you mayneed to evidence your ownership and creation of your original products.

By taking the above measure, hopefully, you can drop the wheel suckers and breakaway from the fakers.

For more information on brand protection and enforcement from Appleyard Lees email chris.hoole@appleyardlees.co.uk or robert.cumming@appleyardlees.com

Has your bike brand been hit by counterfeits? Or have you got an opinion on the topic? Let us know at msutton@nbmedia.com

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