Roses are red, violets are blue, and IP infringements are against the law. Facts like these are hard to argue with. But roses and violets come in other colours as well, so what about IP infringements? Is the law sometimes more lenient towards them?
Unfortunately, that could very well be the case.
Dupe is a word of several meanings. As a verb, it means to deceive someone, which is why it’s often used when referring to fake products. Somewhat confusingly, a new use case has recently emerged on social media where dupe is a shortened form of duplicate, and it refers to products that are very similar (in appearance, ingredients, function, etc.) to other products.
Easy peasy, you could say. A duplicate product is a fake product, so it’s basically the same meaning. However, this is where the situation gets a bit murky.
Counterfeit products pretend to be the IP protected products of a brand, thus they are clearly illegal. Dupes, on the other hand, define themselves as “alternatives” to pricier branded products, and may be different enough in a few aspects to slip under the radar of the law.
So much so that their makers feel confident enough to openly advertise their products in widely circulated magazines or via social media influencers. (Please note that the term “dupe influencer” can be used for persons promoting duplicates and also for those advertising openly counterfeit products.)
Moreover, some magazines even collect duplicates of popular products and advise their readers what to buy if they want to own something similar to a luxury product, but for a fraction of the price.
Screenshot of an article on https://www.goodto.com/wellbeing/28-cheap-perfumes-that-smell-just-like-designer-scents-108852 displaying luxury perfumes and suggesting cheaper duplicate products
Dupes are not exclusive to any industry; in fact, the problem of cheap duplicates can affect almost any brand in any industry. We’ve encountered them among luxury perfumes, fashion, electronics, lifestyle and many more industry segments.
It’s easy to see why people would find the notion of “luxury products for less” alluring; we’ve discovered it when investigating why people willingly purchase counterfeits.
However, in contrast to buying fake products from unknown origins, dupes have the advantage of being produced by a well-known everyday brand. This means that consumers may feel the dangers of buying counterfeits don’t apply in this case.
Since counterfeiting is illegal, the line between right and wrong is clearly drawn. Not so much with dupes. Why would it be wrong to buy a product that seemingly adheres to all applicable regulations?
From the perspective of consumers, the extended advertising makes it even more tempting to go for duplicates. When dupes appear in well-respected magazines like Cosmopolitan, InStyle, Glamour and on social media, both as advertisements and in comparison pieces stating that they’re the legitimate alternatives of expensive luxury goods, then it must be OK to buy them, right?
Screenshot of a still image from a TikTok video on https://www.ok-magazin.de/lifestyle/stanley-adventure-quencher-so-shoppst-du-den-beliebten-tumbler-deutschland-86900.html comparing the branded Stanley Quencher cup and its cheaper dupe
Well, although it may not be strictly illegal, it’s certainly not ethical to buy products that rip off another brand’s research, production, advertising and most importantly, reputation. It’s even more controversial if we take into consideration how much money magazines earn from luxury brands’ advertisements - only to suggest cheaper alternatives of their products to readers.
Image of the prestigious Vogue magazine
As you can see, dupes present brands with a difficult issue. How to fight against the legally acceptable products of competing brands, promoted across respectable channels both on- and offline to your target audience?
While the law may not be clear in the case of duplicates, you’re far from powerless against these products that seriously damage your reputation and revenue.
The first line of defence is definitely awareness. If you don’t know that something’s wrong, how could you take action against it?
globaleyez’s monitoring services are designed to detect potentially IP infringing content online. For example, in cases like the comparison article shown above, we’d use a combination of keyword- and image based monitoring to detect content that features your brand name without your consent.
Our image monitoring service finds both exact copies of your own copyright-protected imagery, and pictures similar to it. To extend our reach, we’d use a round of domain monitoring that detects your chosen keywords not only in domain names, but also in meta descriptions, meta keywords and HTML content.
Social media influencers play a big part in promoting dupes. Luckily, you can do something to counteract the harm they do. Our social media monitoring service is aimed at detecting potentially infringing content on social media platforms, including product listings, posts and ads.
Finally, a round of marketplace monitoring ensures that stray offers by more obscure sellers don’t go unnoticed on over 150 marketplaces worldwide. Discovering who sells these dupes to consumers is a big step in the right direction towards protecting your valuable IP rights and reputation.
No brand protection programme would be complete without enforcement. Although the law is not exactly clear in this regard, some dupes are indeed infringing on a brand’s IP rights and in these cases, enforcing your rights is the best way forward. We can arrange takedowns on marketplaces, social media, domain registries and registrars, single websites and any other corner of the internet.
Product duplicates can cause serious problems for your brand, starting with a diminished revenue and tarnished reputation. Don’t let these issues take you by surprise; contact us and let’s devise a strategy for protecting your brand against dupes and any other threat your IP rights face both on- and offline.