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Counterfeit and the Real Deal: The Pitfalls of Fraudulent Online Marketing

Unfortunately the wave of online selling has encouraged lots of counterfeit goods to be marketed as the real item. There have been instances in China where entire electronics stores were fake! In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission regulates this issue. A skilled trademark lawyer Peoria IL relies on may have to compare some items side by side and determine the often very subtle differences between the true item and the copy. Here are some things to look for:

  1. Packaging- often counterfeit goods have substandard or unmarked wrapping. Be suspicious of goods delivered in plain packages instead of ones with usual colors and logo design on it. One exception to this is if a good is marked as being resold by a consumer. In that case it may appear like new but was likely taken out of the original packaging by the original owner.
  2. Logos- Many times the Trademarked Logo looks odd or misshapen.
  3. Cheap Quality- Amazon has had complaints of high-quality brands such as Gillette, North Face, and Converse being copied on their site. Often consumers become aware when the merchandise is sub-par, especially when they try to purchase a premium brand
  4. Return Address- From a P.O. box or China address

It’s common that the quality of counterfeit goods is inferior to the actual product. For example, when buying a belt instead of it looking like it’s made from leather it is clearly made from a synthetic fiber. Or a high-end watch that is not a sport-model has a plastic band instead of a metal one. This is easy to discover when comparing the two side to side. This is why it’s important to be weary of online retailers because it will be impossible to know if your item is genuine or not. The safest bet is to order the product directly from the company that produces it. Also avoid street vendors with discount deals as they are often selling knock-offs of the original product.

If you chose to use an online retailer, select one that stands by its quality and the authenticity of its products and will accept without hassles returns of substandard goods. When buying a collectible or sports team good, look for tags that authenticate the item as being from branch of the sport, such as the National Football League. For example, real NHL jerseys are made by Reebok and have the NHL logo on the tag in addition to the logo of the team represented. When thieves steal the designs and logos of goods and make profits selling cheap knock-offs we all suffer. It will require government crack-downs as well as consumer outcry for this trend to reverse. In the meantime, be vigilant for the level of quality when you are buying premium brands. It is wise until online retailers are better at monitoring for this key issue, to consider buying in person for awhile.

Konrad Sherinian

Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian for their insight into the pitfalls of fraudulent online marketing.

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Top Three Tips for IP in a Tech Start-Up

There are a lot of moving pieces when planning to launch a technology small business. It makes good sense to have the Intellectual Property (IP) of the business play a key role in the overall start-up strategy. After all, the last thing you want in this process is to be threatened with a patent infringement lawsuit, digital piracy, etc. How should technology entrepreneurs and start-ups approach the difficult task of balancing IP protection vs. marketplace considerations in the quickly evolving global economy? In the face of recent global financial meltdowns, migrant refugee crises, threats of terrorism and regional upheavals (e.g. BREXIT), things may become increasingly more challenging to navigate alone. In terms of IP, the key question for many high-growth start-ups is how to negotiate the daunting landscape of protocol, jurisdiction and regulatory compliance requirements for each new market that their product or service intersects with. Here are the top three tips in protecting your IP investment when launching a tech start up:

Where Do They Click to “Click” With Your Business?​ – The digital world has ushered in a shift from transactions to a more technological interaction model. This means companies need to carefully plan the steps their customers will take to hire and use their product or service on both computers and SmartPhones. According to Constellation Research Principal, Andy Mulholland, “Three distinct types of time-zone based interactions can be recognized in this new environment. They comprise of: reflex interactions (e.g. autonomous machine to machine interactions); service based interactions (i.e. multiple, coordinated services interacting to deliver value to customers / subscribers / end-users); and finally, cognitive interactions (delivering enhanced value as part of a ‘smart’ system and ecosystem).

More Contingent Workers​ – A second consideration involves balancing freedom with basic worker protections. Bloomberg News reminds us, in the so-called “Gig economy,” which offers short term roles for large numbers of contingent workers (popularised by the likes of Uber, Airbnb and Amazon), because they promise a greater degree of freedom and flexibility than traditional employer/employee models. The new Gig Economy players typically offer a platform for exchanging goods and services, but what remains unclear is what determines when a staff is a full-time or part-time employee entitled to workplace benefits and protection laws such as Family Medical Leave Act? This blurring of lines could be interpreted by many as an attempt by platform operators to save lots of resources by lowering Human Resources costs, and this has led to a growing number of high profile lawsuits. Another recent issue was when workers at Deliveroo went on strike to protest their treatment. Such disruptive business practices bring to mind the threat posed to traditional content industries by file sharing platforms such as: Pirate Bay,Napster, Grokster, or Megaupload, who all got sued for their IP repeatedly. A middle ground must be found where it will be possible to explore the boundaries of the new Gig Economy without trampling over the rights of its participants. The winners may become the employers who figure out creative ways to make their Gig workers happy. In conclusion, when it comes to startup entrepreneurship in today’s world, it takes a certain level of awareness to negotiate the maze of challenges facing new tech start-ups in many US markets. One of the key criteria for success, (in addition to having the right ideas, resources, team and opportunity/timing), is developing a solid strategy for intellectual property as part of the overall business model.

Role Reversal​ – IP is a moveable feast, and sooner or later any proponent of “free-to-use” IP soon become vigorous advocates of IP protection once they start producing their own. According to research done by Harvard University, nations that were once net consumers of IP, with scant regard for anti-piracy measures, will often become rabid defenders of international IP laws when they start producing more IP than they consume. The same applies to startups who initially think nothing of appropriating other people’s IP in other to create or enhance their own products / services, but then go on to spend oodles of funding money with top IP lawyers to protect or defend their IP as they mature. Don’t try to navigate IP in the tech jungle alone! Call one an experienced Intellectual Property and patent lawyer Naperville IL relies on.


Thanks to our friends and our contributors from The Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian for their insight into tips for intellectual property in tech startups.

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How Lawyer Marketing Helps Educate The Public About Dangerous Products

The vast majority of product manufacturers, from drug companies to furniture makers, are unwilling to warn the public about safety issues until something bad happens. Investigate most product recalls and you’ll soon discover that evidence of safety issues surfaced long before the recall itself was issued. With so little information reaching actual consumers, advertisements produced by product liability attorneys can play a critical function, educating the public about both potential dangers and the legal rights of injured victims.

Balance In Public Knowledge On Drugs & Medical Devices

Attorney advertisements are most prevalent in the space of product liability, where manufacturers can be held accountable for allowing unreasonably dangerous goods to hurt consumers. Pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices receive the most attention, often because their potential harms are so great. Few drug manufacturers, however, are ready to admit that their products may cause more harm than good – even in the face of medical evidence to the contrary.

In fact, pharmaceutical companies routinely stress the benefits of their products, while minimizing the risks. FDA regulatory actions support this view, according to an analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine. Between 1997 and 2006, nearly 84% of the regulatory warnings set out to drug marketers by the FDA cited advertisements for either downplaying safety issues or embellishing benefits. In this context, attorney advertisements, which only serve to highlight the known and potential side effects of existing pharmaceuticals and medical devices, may have a necessary role, adding balance to what, otherwise, would be an imbalanced public discourse on health products.

Spreading Awareness Of Recalled Consumer Products

Where consumer goods are concerned, the social benefits of attorney marketing are hard to dispute. Recalled products are recalled for a reason, after all. Takata’s massive airbag recall is an illustrative example. While the Japanese auto parts manufacturer and nearly two dozen car companies have now recalled around 49 million vehicles, millions of drivers remain unaware that their own car may be installed with a deadly airbag.

Takata has a long history of delaying necessary recalls, according to the New York Times. While car owners are now receiving personal notifications, even these safety measures have stalled due to the recall’s unprecedented scope. The most recent recall, for example, issued by BMW on February 6, 2017, is expected to cover 230,117 vehicles in the US. Around 1% of these cars could have been installed with a defective Takata airbag during routine servicing, Car and Driver reports. Owners, however, won’t be receiving notifications until sometime in March.

In this context, car manufacturers need all the help they can get. Likewise, consumers should receive all the warnings they deserve. In many cases, attorney advertising fills the gap – a rift often left open by obstructive manufacturers and cash-strapped government safety regulators.

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Digital Trends Affecting Patent & Trademark

It has been said that the more things in a Digital Age change, the more some things stay the same. In other words trend forecasters have learned to use marketing, psychology, and engineering developments to predict new ways patents and trademarks can be used in the next five years. Some of these trends have already begun! To start, let’s cover how people find real and “fake” news as well as look for products to buy- the Web. There are several trends for technology-related businesses to consider when looking to redesign or update their web presence. Rather than do from the beginning rehauls, most businesses are opting to re-vamp their websites with new content, more interactive media, and more interconnectivity between aspects of the site.

For example, using a website’s blog in concert with posts to various social media platforms can increase traffic with minimal investment.

Many decades ago, Marshall McCluhan said, “The medium is the message.” How this relates to your online marketing campaign is sites need to become more intuitive, relevant, and with content designed to emphasize key search terms. Updates to your website are now recommended to be at least a weekly, if not daily, activity. Content needs to be honed, for online content is king! Strategies need to be tested. Search terms need to be analyzed. For example, if you find a more generic term being searched than content can be made more generic.

Of course content is being made more interactive by using brand-specific aps or having your product or service on a coupon ap such as Groupon. Browsers themselves, thanks to advances made possible by Advanced Javascript, HTML5, and hooks between your smartphone’s hardware and the browser could mean there is now less pressure to have an “ap” created or interface with existing popular ap found for a new product or service.. Nick Weynard, President of Trademark Media says, “Unless your project needs to access the hardware of a mobile device––e.g., the camera, GPS, voice, etc.––it probably doesn’t need to be an app; a mobile responsive web application is preferable, cheaper, and quicker to launch.” So consider all those factors as your business looks to stay current on marketing that is Smart-phone friendly.

While I was registering for our wedding, we joked as a tech-savvy couple maybe we needed an “Internet-capable blender,” to link right to web recipes. I’m sitting next to our Nest thermostat, which can be controlled through my phone’s ap. It’s connected to the Internet––and it can send me an alert if the temperature is getting low enough to be uncomfortable. In addition, I can check, via the Nest website, ways to lower our utility bill or have the device adjust itself to our typical schedule.

The Internet of Things means the Internet is connected to … stuff. It’s on your watch, in your car, on your gaming console. It’s wherever inventors have designed it to be! But the Internet of Things is no longer the playground of well-funded start-ups. In 2017, more small-and-medium businesses will begin to think seriously about how to engage the Internet of Things for their purposes. Innovators are now being conscious of ways to engage and serve consumers through building the product or service with digital capability built in.

As the public evolves in their comfort and knowledge about using online tools and platforms, new more seamless connections will be created between users and the digital world. How exciting to be in an era of such rapid innovation. Call a skilled patent lawyer Naperville IL trusts if you want legal advice on how digital trends will affect the design and marketing of your product or service.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian for their insight into digital trends.

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