October 2021 | by Lili
When planning our three part series on interesting marketplaces around the world, we decided to put each marketplace in the country it’s headquartered in, or where it’s a very dominant force.
However, this made us realize that there are a bunch of marketplaces that can’t really be tied to any country. Or rather, their influence on a niche market surpasses their geographical significance. Hence, the fourth part of our series was born: interesting niche marketplaces categorized thematically, rather than according to their geographical location.
Advertising itself as “The Largest Luxury Marketplace,” choosethemoon.com has been in business since 2012 and offers high-priced items including cars, watches, yachts, real estate, even spa holidays.
Screenshot of a yacht available for sale on choosethemoon.com
The site works as a platform to provide sellers of luxury items with ad space and exposure to potential clients. This business model, along with the fact that the marketplace caters to luxury tastes, creates a danger for grey market products to appear on the platform, which seriously harms brands’ IP rights - and their bottom line.
Specializing in luxury watches since 2003, Chrono24.com offers its customers safe buying options and vetted, original products. Thanks to an escrow account, the marketplace holds onto the payment until the buyer receives the product, thus protecting both parties from loss.
Although the marketplace checks the originality of products, our experience suggests that grey market sellers may still slip through the cracks and infringe on your brand’s IP rights.
Available in many countries, Zalando is a marketplace geared towards fashion and accessories. Similarly to Amazon, Zalando sells products itself and also allows third party sellers to access the platform. This increases the chances of IP-infringements like counterfeits as well as grey market products appearing on the marketplace.
Bitify offers digital goods like software and electronic gift cards from sellers and buyers located all over the world. The marketplace’s sellers exclusively accept bitcoin as payment. Bitify uses an escrow system to make sure that sellers only get the money when buyers receive the product.
Screenshot of a listing on bitify.com accepting bitcoin as payment
This, unfortunately, doesn’t protect against IP-infringing products like cracked or fake software. We found and eliminated several of these in the course of our test purchase service for clients.
But the problems pertaining to this marketplace don’t stop there. In fact, guess where else we encountered various sellers from bitify: on the darknet.
As its name suggests, Gamivo specifies in gaming software. But other digital goods are also available here, like on Bitify. Unfortunately, the same problems of cracked or fake software plague this marketplace as well.
Interestingly, the marketplace employs a selling method not unlike Amazon’s Buy Box: the listing by the seller who won the top spot based on various criteria set by the marketplace is automatically displayed in front of customers, making it harder for other sellers to be visible.
Although most sellers on Gamivo don’t provide a lot of information about themselves, we have a good cooperation with this marketplace and enforcing our clients’ IP rights has never been a problem for us.
Not a lot of information is available about the marketplace’s sellers, though their user ratings are visible and can help customers decide if a seller is legit - unless those reviews are, of course, fake.
Although not a marketplace in the classic sense of the word, Sythe.org facilitates interaction between buyers and sellers in the gaming community. It operates as a forum, with several users selling goods either via direct messaging, or through a link to their webshop. Many visitors seek in-game items and keys from sellers and other community members.
Unfortunately, as our test purchases have proved, fake and cracked software is also on offer here, which is why online brand protection experts can’t ignore internet fora like this.
Turbosquid offers 3D-printed models of various items. Customers can choose models or texture maps of cars, animals, dolls, architecture, furniture and much more. Unfortunately, dishonest customers can use this service for creating counterfeit versions of brand products.
Another concern is safety: customers can come to serious harm if Turbosquid-printed items are mistaken for (or deliberately chosen to use instead of) originals.
Screenshot of a 3D printed steering wheel model on turbosquid.com
Similarly to Turbosquid, the adequately named Thingiverse offers 3D-printed models based on designs available on the marketplace or uploaded by a user. This means that anything and everything can be uploaded and printed on the platform, including fake branded models.
Since users can upload their designs without any hindrance, we’ve encountered many IP-infringing listings on the platform. Luckily, thanks to our excellent cooperation with the marketplace, we never face any trouble when requesting takedowns.
Featured in our article about Print on Demand services, Redbubble is one of the many marketplaces offering to print and sell users’ designs on various items like T-shirts, mugs, stationery and stickers.
While this business model is great for budding artists, it’s also a fertile breeding ground for IP-infringements. Many users aren’t even aware that they’re hurting a brand’s IP-rights when incorporating imagery or pictures into their designs.
Because of the immense number of small IP-infringements, we established a fruitful cooperation with Redbubble and installed proactive takedowns, which enable us to eliminate many IP-infringing listings quickly and effectively.
Etsy, a marketplace that made significant gains during the early months of the COVID pandemic, started out as a platform for handcrafted and vintage items listed by individuals.
Nowadays, the marketplace is bigger and features professional third party sellers as well. This resulted in a larger amount of IP-infringing products appearing on the platform. Earlier, as in the case of Redbubble, we mostly had to deal with hobby craftspeople who were sometimes not even aware that they were infringing on a brand’s IP-rights.
Some of the newer products are, in fact, quite surprising. For example, who would have thought a few years ago that we’d find and remove cracked software from this platform?
We have conducted several successful test purchases and ensuing takedowns on Etsy.
Third party sellers on the marketplace disclose their location, which is very helpful if customers want to avoid surprisingly long delivery times and quite often, fake products arriving from countries known for counterfeiting.
We’ve encountered a small amount of IP-infringing products on this marketplace. Thanks to our good cooperation, takedowns are easy to achieve.
Offering furniture and other household items like curtains, mattresses and kitchenware, Wayfair is a popular marketplace in Germany. As the platform doesn’t disclose information about its sellers, customers don’t really know who they’re ordering from.
This certainly increases the chances of IP-infringing products appearing on the marketplace, like goods that copy others’ design. Grey marketing is also a tangible threat on this platform.
Screenshot of a listing on wayfair.de
Although we can’t call them a marketplace (unlike real marketplaces of the social media giant like Shops and, well, Marketplace), Facebook buying groups are certainly places of interest for online brand protection experts.
Some of these special interest groups can have millions of members, and quite a few sellers have found this to be a great business opportunity. Some groups even have over a hundred thousand active sellers offering products to a target audience that has already displayed an interest in the subject. This can quickly become a breeding ground for counterfeits and grey market products.
Luckily, our social media monitoring service includes these groups and thanks to our excellent cooperation with Facebook, we have conducted several test purchases and takedowns for our clients.
Niche marketplaces provide immense opportunities for brands to find a specific audience. However, if they remain unchecked, these marketplaces can also do a lot of harm to brands, e.g. IP-infringements, or the loss of revenue and reputation. Especially since some dishonest sellers, after having been kicked out of major marketplaces, regard these lesser known platforms as a last resort to reach clients.
A comprehensive online brand protection program ensures that infringing listings on these marketplaces can be found and dealt with quickly and effectively.