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The Complete Guide to Brand Protection

Posted on Thursday December 15, 2022

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Brand protection is a high priority for companies. If your brand’s reputation is tarnished, sales may drop due to the brand’s poor image.

Why Is Brand Protection Important?

Brand protection is important because it allows a company to protect its image by removing copycats from the marketplace, which possibly tarnishes the reputation of its products or services.

Brand protection encompasses a series of actions taken by a right holder to prevent the intellectual property associated with their brand from being abused by third parties. The perpetrators are typically bad actors like counterfeiters and copycats who illegally infringe on a brand name, brand identity, and intellectual property for personal and financial gain.

These are the core elements that constitute a brand and brand protection:
 

  • Intellectual Property (IP): Brands use all manner of IP to safeguard assets associated with the brands. These typically include patents, copyrights, trademarks, and so on.

    According to the 2017 report by The Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, US businesses lose approximately $600 billion through various manner of intellectual property theft such as pirated software, counterfeited goods, and stolen trade secrets.
     

  • Reputation: A brand is coveted because it represents how the general public perceives a company, the quality of its products, its values, and its standing in the community. As a result, companies work hard to build, preserve, protect and embellish their brand reputation.
     

The Benefits of Brand Protection

Brand protection provides many direct benefits and ancillary benefits.

Improved Sales and Revenue 

Businesses can generate more sales and boost their revenue without scammers, forgers, and counterfeit products eating into sales and financial opportunities.

Increased Profit Margins

Automated brand protection strategically puts mechanisms and systems in place to detect, monitor, and forestall attempts at copyright infringement.

Since low-quality products have been removed or prevented from proliferation, customers would be more likely to spend on reliable, high-quality products.

This saves businesses valuable time and frees up valuable energy and money in the form of profit that would have otherwise been chipped away by fighting the illegal shenanigans of unscrupulous actors.

Improved Reputation and Partnerships

When a business and its products are no longer associated with mediocrity due to fake goods, it generates goodwill among the public. Furthermore, this leads to an improved reputation, creating more customer loyalty.

As a result, retailers, vendors, distributors, and other partners will be more likely to engage in partnerships with the business and its associated brands.

The Threats To Brand Reputation And Image

Threats to brand reputation come in various forms and are manifested in intellectual property theft, copyright infringement, and all many other nefarious counterfeitings.

  • Copyright Piracy: This encompasses the infringement of copyrighted work through unauthorized activity such as copying, display, performance, and/or illegal distribution.
     
  • Counterfeiting: Counterfeiting encompasses broad-based illegal activities that typically involve some of the following:
    Illegal labeling and violations of trademarks, patents, copyrights, and design rights to deceive consumers that the product or business is affiliated with the legitimate brand.
    Unauthorized manufacture and distribution of illicit goods under another person’s or brand’s name without permission.
     
  • Patent Theft: Infringing on patent rights by using a patented product without permission or license.
     
  • Grey Market or Parallel Market: This is the sale of legitimate goods without the trademark owner’s consent in a certain market or economic area. The goods are effectively diverted outside the official distribution channels without the trademark holder’s approval.
     
  • Trademark Abuse: This includes brand impersonation schemes.
     
  • Brandjacking: This is the unauthorized use of a company’s brand, often through online impersonation that assumes the brand’s identity. In our increasingly digital-inhabited society, social media impersonation is becoming more rampant.

    Brandjacking skirts the line of criminality, but it is an underhanded method that usually involves leveraging another business’s brand for one’s own marketing purposes.
     

  • Brand Impersonation: As the name implies, brand impersonation occurs when unscrupulous parties impersonate a valued brand with the objective of tricking unsuspecting victims into fraudulent business transactions.
     
  • Trademark Squatting: This happens when someone other than the valid brand owner registers a trademark. 
     

Threat Intelligence Steps to Establish Brand Protection

Companies usually follow the process below as a course of action to pursue effective brand protection.

Detection

Organizations must be vigilant by continuously monitoring their online properties and investigating any possible abuse or infringement of their brand’s position. This involves discovering rogue websites, fake social media profiles, and counterfeit e-commerce listings. Implementing security software for anti-phishing to prevent impersonations that are often a precursor to brand infringements.

In addition to scouting the internet for online infringement, they must investigate attempts to perpetrate IP violations in brick-and-mortar establishments. In essence, this phase of brand protection involves detecting risks early and alerting the relevant authorities when violations occur.

Most often than not, the threat intelligence used here typically involves various aspects of cybersecurity defenses and monitoring.

Validation

This process involves verifying and confirming that the IP and copyright abuses identified are valid. This is important because while an organization vigorously enforces IP rights, it should ensure compliant companies aren’t penalized or subjected to undue burdens.

Proactive cybersecurity measures are instituted to validate, anticipate, and prevent potential brand infringement threats.

Enforcement

Brand protection involves compelling compliance, so organizations have a role in ensuring laws and obligations are adequately followed in protecting their IP. This may include working with the relevant authorities to close illicit product listings, shut down rogue websites, remove misleading online postings, and take down fake social media accounts.

Reporting

Organizations need to have an inventory of the status of their intellectual property and the scope of violations, along with actionable information to improve their brand protection and security posture.

How Do Data Breaches Affect Brand Protection?

Data breaches inflict incalculable damage to business brands. According to IBM’s 2022 Cost of Data Breach Report, a data breach’s average cost has skyrocketed to $4.24 million. While financial estimates are easier to pin down, other debilitating impacts are more difficult to quantify, such as reputational damage and the destruction of customer trust and goodwill.  

Reputational Damage

Brands are based on reputation generated by sustained goodwill — or lack thereof — with the general public. As a result, brands are understandably sensitive to anything that erodes their hard-earned reputation. Unfortunately, reputational damage resulting from cybersecurity breaches is not an isolated affair since as much as 46% of organizations have been impacted.

A data breach can cause a serious dent in a brand image that is very hard to recover from, especially for smaller businesses that don’t have the marketing or PR power to counter negative publicity.

Data Breach Damages Consumer Trust

One of the worst things IP assaults on brands do, whether through counterfeit products or data breaches, is massively undermining the trust and goodwill of the brand.

While brands jealously guard their reputation, data breaches are more insidious because, in addition to financial damage, they often result in broken customer trust, which is difficult to repair. This damage is worsened by the fact that negative customer sentiments can quickly spread through online reviews and social media.

Data breaches signal to the public that the affected organization cannot be trusted as a custodian of customer data, including personally identifiable. Worse, it may build a narrative, whether justifiable or not, that the organization is careless or doesn’t take security seriously.

Loss of Competitive Advantage

A successful brand gives the business a competitive advantage that competitors in the same market or industry cannot easily replicate. This is because, in addition to its distinct features, the intangible value, benefits, and emotional bond a brand forges with customers make it challenging for competitors to copy willy-nilly.

However, a data breach undermines a brand’s wholesome image and, in turn, can weaken its competitive advantage.

While there are antitrust laws that prohibit or try to prevent unjustified monopolies, brands are a legitimate way to create market monopolies through fair competition. So, without a compelling brand that captures the public’s imagination, it is virtually impossible to build a legal monopoly.

Reduction in Sales and Business Growth

Data breaches exhort a significant financial toll on the impacted businesses and their associated brand. The corollary to the loss of competitive advantage is the attendant negative impact on business growth and financial fallout accompanying a data breach.

As a result, organizations should go above and beyond to protect their brands in order to safeguard their hard-earned market share and revenue streams.

Legal Exposure and Lawsuits

Brands hit by cybersecurity data breaches invariably expose themselves to legal peril in the form of regulatory penalties and class action lawsuits.

How to Counteract the Threats to Brand Protection

 These are the things an organization needs to prevent brand abuse and strengthen its brand protection efforts:

Implement Zero Trust Network Architecture

Traditional cybersecurity’s castle-and-moat defenses no longer suffice in this age of cloud computing and the proliferation of distributed endpoints such as mobile devices and IoT devices. Unlike traditional security, where anything inside the network is trusted by default, zero-trust security takes no such liberties.

Instead of perimeter-based security, Zero-trust emphasizes trusted identities with user and device authentication, endpoint protection, and network security.

Invest in Enterprise-Grade Cybersecurity Solutions

In addition to securing brand components with copyrights, patents, and other IP protections, a vital approach to brand protection is putting robust data security in place. This is because while IP and copyright protections are legitimate avenues every business worth its salt should pursue, they don’t deter all unscrupulous individuals.

Here are some cybersecurity technologies to implement for brand protection:

  • Secure Access Control and Monitoring Software: After implementing zero-trust security, the most vital step to prevent data breaches is deploying enterprise-grade digital security. This is typically in the form of network monitoring and secure access control software. Others include firewalls, antivirus with malware detection software, and so on.
     
  • Digital Rights Management (DRM): We alluded earlier that IP protection isn’t enough to detect bad actors intent on abusing brands. As a result, companies use DRM to protect their copyrighted media and digital content.

    DRM employs several techniques, such as watermarking, permissions management, encryption mechanisms, and other forms of technology, to prevent copyrighted material from being stolen, sold, shared, or otherwise used illegally. Overall, DRM safeguards sensitive material, prevents tampering, and even restricts the use of audio files.
     

  • Information Rights Management: protecting data both at rest and in transit using robust encryption mechanisms while giving document owners document security and granular control over their data and files.
     
  • Endpoint Data Loss Prevention (DLP): To fortify IP and brand protection in the age of mobile computing, BYOD, and IoT devices, organizations also use endpoint data loss prevention (DLP). As its name suggests, DLP helps ensure data loss prevention extends to the numerous endpoints that could serve as vulnerable access points and attack vectors to pilfer crucial IP brand components.

    Many cybersecurity data breaches have resulted from the illegal transmission of sensitive data through these avenues and illustrated the heightened need for monitoring, detecting, and remediating intrusion activities on these endpoints. In essence, DLP protects data, whether at rest, in use, or in motion. Endpoint DLP can be further categorized as cloud DLP and network DLP.
     

  • Cloud-based and On-site Access Control System: These processes control and limit the users and agents who gain access to sensitive information. This, in turn, makes it difficult for data breaches to occur, either through insider threats or escalation of privilege attacks.

    Access control systems typically implement role-based access control (RBAC) and ensure their software applications use the principle of least privileges (PoLP).  
     

Digital Guardian Secure Collaboration Has The Tools to Enforce Robust Brand Protection

Once a brand’s reputation is damaged, it can be difficult to restore. A decrease in revenue and high customer turnover are just some of the casualties resulting from neglecting brand protection.

Digital Guardian Secure Collaboration is equipped with several brand protection tools, technology, and strategies to limit damage to your brand reputation. These include intellectual property protection, digital rights management, and information rights management capabilities. Our products also include secure file sharing and compliance

To learn more about digital rights management and brand protection, schedule a demo with us!

Tags:  Secure Collaboration

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