Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, knockoffs were a $500 billion global criminal enterprise, predicted to double by 2022 with the exponential rise in e-commerce. 2020’s pandemic accelerated both phenomena: Within three months of onset in the U.S., online shopping spiked 32%, throwing open the door to fake fashion, electronics, medicines and more.
Now more than ever, makers and sellers of authentic products need the most powerful tools at their disposal to combat knockoffs. The U.S. International Trade
Commission wields a veritable sledgehammer against knockoffs by enforcing Section 337 of the U.S. Tariff Act of 1930 and offering swiftly adjudicated exclusion orders against knockoff imports, enforced by U.S. Customs at sea and at airports. In just the past year, Jeep won an ITC exclusion order against trade dress infringing vehicles, Varidesk LLC scored exclusion of patent-infringing standing desks, BIC Corp. won exclusion of trade dress infringing lighters, and Bose Corp. benefited from exclusion of patent-infringing earbuds.
Yeti Holdings Inc.’s ITC action particularly illuminates its knockoff problem, solution and outcome over the course of 2015 to present. Here we examine this pressing problem and powerful solutions for brands, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers in 2021.
Yeti is the story of a niche, luxury fishing cooler company that boomed to a $470 million cult brand by 2015. After its coolers hit the market — and American college campuses — in 2006, Yeti expanded its business to include an equally popular line of insulated drinkware. Yeti’s rise to iconic status, however, was almost put on ice in 2017, as its sales turned downward — from nearly $820 million in 2016 to less than $650 million by year end 2017. Finding mass counterfeiting of its drinkware products to be the source of substantial lost sales and reputational harm, Yeti turned to the ITC, filing a complaint against knockoffs in late 2017.
To learn more about how to combat the knockoff problem, see full article here.