Covid-19: Who is watching your competitors?

20th March 2020 Intellectual Property

At the turn of 2020, businesses knew that there were turbulent times ahead. Indeed, Brexit negotiations were set to dominate our 24-hour news channels and smartphone notifications alike. However, in recent weeks, events have taken a very different turn with the Covid-19 virus spreading across the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

Those who are still able to walk the streets of London know that the cafés, restaurants and shops are empty. For now, we are no longer queuing for lunch or waiting in line at our favourite retail store – “foot fall” is well and truly through the floor. For those businesses who relied on its customers to walk through the door, very challenging times lay ahead.

For many years, businesses have been “going online” and the best at doing so have been very successful. However, many businesses who still heavily rely on foot fall have been slower to adapt, with online sales remaining only a minor percentage of their business model. With Covid-19, this luxury of choice between operating in offline and online markets is fading.

Opportunity: Record Online Sales

According to CNBC, Chinese online retailer “forecast an at least 10% rise in revenue for the coronavirus-hit first quarter, benefiting from partnerships with supermarkets for delivering fresh produce and groceries to shoppers choosing to stay indoors due to fears of infection”. In addition, Lotte, a supermarket chain in South Korea, reportedly experienced an 11% decrease in offline sales in January, while its online sales increased by 51.4% in late January 2020.

Many UK-based businesses have already begun to respond to this impact by focusing on their online presence. For instance, McDonald’s recently announced it is removing seats from its restaurants, and accepted that it may eventually close restaurants entirely, with a shifted focus towards its online delivery service. Meanwhile Ocado, an online supermarket, had to suspend its service and refuse new customer bookings because of an overwhelming flood of demand from online shoppers.

It seems that online sales are more important than ever to businesses.

Online Risk

In the current climate, as governments across the globe implement strict travel and social distancing measures to curb the growth of the spread of Covid-19, it is vital to the survival of businesses that they embrace the idea of selling online.

However, particularly for businesses who do not usually rely on online sales, it is a transition with risk. Businesses may find themselves bundled in tightly together in online markets, with each of them fighting for market share. In this process, you may discover others are infringing your brand rights, your patent, or maybe they are doing a plain and simple copy of your key designs.

Solution: Efficiently Monitoring Rivals

With the use of online monitoring technology, JMW can, first, conduct a scoping exercise to assess where and how infringers of your IP are operating online, while creating a strategy to prevent them taking advantage of your business at this crucial time.

The second step involves keeping an ongoing look out for any potential IP infringements against you, and to enforce your rights against those infringers on a zero tolerance basis. The aim is to make the counterfeit production and sale of your products unprofitable, thereby pushing the counterfeiter away from your business.

As an IP specialist team, we provide clients with the best legal and commercially sound advice on the market, so that you can defeat online IP infringers.

Given the current global economic outlook, the costs to any business for any service is a key consideration. However, working closely with our trusted partners means that we are able to offer such services at low cost, especially when weighed against the cost of counterfeiters taking your market share and damaging your brand in the process.

Our 13 Week Plan for the scoping and monitoring exercises described above is now available.

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Michael Rimola is a Trainee Solicitor located in Londonin our Trainee Solicitors department

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Philip Partington is a Partner located in Londonin our Intellectual Property department

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