As entrepreneurs and business owners, we all know the importance of protecting our intellectual property (IP). Whether it’s a patent, trademark, or copyright, securing and enforcing our IP rights is crucial to the success and longevity of our companies. But what happens when our IP is being infringed upon by competitors, particularly those based in other countries?
Kevin Harrington, one of the original sharks from Shark Tank, recently shared his experience with IP enforcement at a DC event. At a DC Innovation Week event hosted by Dion Pouncil, I had the opportunity to meet Kevin Harrington and ask him about his experience with IP as it relates to selling infomercial products. I also elaborated by asking how important IP was to enforcing and protecting his products. Here’s a summary of his response.
According to Harrington, it used to be that competitors would knock off his products in a legal fashion, avoiding using his trademarks and checking for patents. However, today he sees a different situation.
“We put something up that successful. Also, we get 20 competitors on Amazon. And they’re using my actual trademarks and my name and, and they’re selling it for half the price. And they’re saying, don’t buy over there. You know, for $20, we’re going to sell it to you for $9.95. But it’s actually a knockoff coming from China. And we can’t sue Chinese companies because there’s no way to win over there,” says Harrington.
This is a common problem for many businesses, especially those selling products on e-commerce platforms like Amazon. The global nature of these platforms means that it can be difficult to enforce IP rights against foreign companies, especially those in countries with less stringent IP laws. In addition, many of these companies are able to sell counterfeit goods at significantly lower prices, making it difficult for legitimate businesses to compete.
In addition to the challenges of enforcing IP rights against foreign companies, Harrington also highlighted the issue of Amazon’s involvement in IP infringement. According to him, Amazon is “behind this 100%”, and that if they put a product on QVC and the very first time they did 10s of millions of dollars, people were knocking it off on Amazon and selling it for half the price.
So, what can businesses do to protect their IP in the face of these challenges? According to Harrington, it’s important to have a good enforcement policy in place. This includes being vigilant and monitoring for potential infringement, and taking action when necessary. In addition, working with a lawyer who is knowledgeable about IP law can be helpful in navigating the complexities of IP enforcement.
In summary, IP enforcement can be a complex and challenging task, especially when dealing with foreign companies and e-commerce platforms like Amazon. However, by being vigilant and having a good enforcement policy in place, businesses can take steps to protect their IP and ensure their long-term success.
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