Protecting your trademark and brand reputation

Firm but fair trademark protection protects long-term brand reputation

Protecting your trademark and brand reputation

Protecting your trademark and brand reputation

In our previous blog on Epson’s IP protection title ‘protect the now and ensure the next’ I mainly focussed on the serious crime of counterfeit.  However, not all IP infringement are motivated by criminality. Many offenses are made in genuine error by private individuals who misuse the Epson’s brand or trademark on public trading platforms like eBay.

This can be a sensitive area. Selling non-genuine (Epson made) inks using an Epson logo can provide or customers with the impression that they are buying inks our recommended inks from a recommended Epson supplier. Where this is not the case, it is our legal and moral duty to protect customers from potentially bad experiences and to protect the brand.

As such we take a robust approach to ensuring that eBay (and other sales site) pages that misuse Epson logos and trademarks are removed. This can understandably create anger and frustration on the part of private sellers, so as part of our approach we also invest heavily in follow-up with them, to make sure we can give them the best information and guidance possible on to sell their products legally.

Expect an angry response from infringing resellers

Although Epson provides an easy-to follow guide to eBay resellers of non-genuine inks and supplies, the truth is that many resellers are not aware that it exists.

Additionally, private individuals who suddenly find themselves with unwanted inks are often not aware of the distinction between ‘genuine’ and ‘non-genuine’ inks.

Genuine inks are inks purpose designed and manufactured by Epson and recommended for use in our printers.  Non-genuine inks are developed without the same testing and rigour by third parties and do not have Epson’s recommendation. Nonetheless some of these products are available in major retailers and can carry the word Epson on their packaging (though not the logo or trademark).

While Epson accepts that genuine mistakes are therefore being made, it is our primary responsibility to protect our consumers by closing down offending eBay pages before a sale can be completed. This can often result in initially angry responses from eBay resellers. Here are some real life examples of online feedback.

“Why on earth have you removed my listing? You’re just bullies!”

“I find it hard to believe that your company is so petty that you have had my eBay listing removed, citing intellectual rights infringement.”

“Your petty action has ensured that I will never buy another Epson product.”

Reseller engagement and support is important

This type of misunderstanding can of course also have a detrimental impact on perceptions of Epson as-well-as frustrate what could be a perfectly legal and legitimate business transaction. A very important follow up step in protecting our customers and our brand therefore is to reach out to affected resellers to help them understand our reasons for removing their page and to advise them on how to re-instate the sales page legally and without infringing trademarks.

Taking care to respond to individuals quickly, to explain and to assist them in making an honest sale can help everybody. In contrast to the earlier complaints, here are some of the real life comments we have received from resellers following our feedback.

“Thank you so much for offering to contact eBay to reinstate my account and remove the violation….Thank you for realising this is a genuine mistake. I appreciate your kindness.”

“I must say it is good of your company to have the time and patience to answer questions from mere mortals, like myself. The information you have given me and what I have gained from your ‘About Me’ page on eBay has opened my eyes to see what I did wrong.”

Protecting IP is critical for an innovative business like Epson and perhaps your own, but it’s important to always remember that protecting your company’s IP can also have adverse consequences for brand reputation unless you support it with open and clear communications.

Our goal is for everyone that deals with Epson to feel that they have been treated fairly and with respect.