Insights 23.03.2021

Introducing Thomsen Trampedach, our newest NovumIP company

In January, Novagraaf, a NovumIP company, acquired Thomsen Trampedach, the global Online Brand Protection service provider. Managing Director Jannik Skou introduces Thomsen Trampedach and its services, and explains the importance of online brand protection strategies for brand owners.

Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, Jannik Skou joined Thomen Trampedach in 2007, where he manages an international team of brand protection and domain name experts providing online brand protection and corporate domain name management services. He has more than 20 years’ experience in managing corporate domain name portfolios, and implementing domain name and online brand protection strategies for large international brands in China, Europe and the US. As part of his role, he has travelled to China multiple times to work with Chinese brands, as well as consulting for the .CN domain name registry, CNNIC, on domain name policies. 

Jannik is a regular speaker at IP conferences, and is a member of the Anti-Counterfeiting Committee at INTA, ICANN’s Intellectual Property Constituency, MARQUES, the Danish-Chinese Business Forum, and the EU SME project China-IPR Helpdesk.

What is the history of Thomsen Trampedach?

The company was founded in 2007 in Switzerland, with offices in both Rotkreuz, Switzerland and Copenhagen, Denmark. We started as a pure consulting company, advising clients on steps to take, including which companies to use, but over time clients wanted to start buying products directly from us, so Thomsen Trampedach developed into an online brand protection provider with its own products. Over the years, we’ve established close relationships with local legal experts, as well as domain name registries, registrars and hosting providers. This network and vast experience have enabled Thomsen Trampedach to provide tailor-made and effective online brand protection services for clients in a variety of different industries. 

In my opinion, one of the USPs of working with Thomsen Trampedach is that we really become a part of the client team, more like colleagues than suppliers, which is how we are able to deliver the personalised service that our clients value.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

My job is all about solving problems to make our clients’ lives easier, but also, at its highest level, it’s about helping to keep people safe from the dangers of fraud and counterfeiting. This is what I love about the job. When it comes to Thomsen Trampedach, I really value the international culture – between us, the team speaks 15 different languages, and each person handles decision making very differently, which makes for some very interesting discussions. 

What does it mean to you to become a NovumIP company?

It’s wonderful that we can add trademark and patent management to our existing portfolio, and share our expertise with a larger client base. We’re all looking forward to being able to combine our existing service offering with the legal advice on offer from Novagraaf for example, which can supplement our work by advising on specific issues such as customs requirements and distribution agreements. 

What are the biggest issues being faced by brand owners right now?

As a company we’ve had a strong focus on anti-phishing and anti-counterfeiting activity, especially since the pandemic, as complaints in these areas have sky-rocketed. For example, we have been identifying thousands of fraudulent activities per day, during COVID-19. As we know, lockdowns have caused a huge spike in online shopping, meaning that e-tailers and logistics companies have built more clients and more users, and are more likely to be targeted, therefore. 

While new technologies and platforms make it easier to monitor and take down infringing products, innovations in the way these products are sold/marketed are causing problems. We are seeing more and more infringement activities take place in closed groups and via hidden links – i.e. web pages that don’t contain a brand name and therefore cannot be caught by crawlers – on messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram, for example. 

What needs to be done? 

One thing that is missing is greater transparency and we need new regulations to ensure platforms verify and vet their sellers properly. With brick-and-mortar stores you need business licenses, paperwork and so on, but online sites require very little authentication before sellers can get started, which is where the problems can arise.

While marketplaces, such as Amazon, eBay, Alibaba and MercadoLibre, have made considerable improvements over the years, they also need support from brand owners and service providers to help identify and filter out unauthorised sellers. To stand the best chances of success, we need to work together to drive progress in this area.

Do you have any practical advice to help readers in this area?
  • Assess your threats – and priorities: It’s important to start with a full picture of the threats to your brand and its reputation/customers online, as only then can you decide what the priorities should be. This overview will also help you to set your strategy and budget for action.
  • Align monitoring with enforcement: A joined-up approach to monitoring and enforcement, including having access to legal advisors in key jurisdictions, is crucial to success. In some instances, monitoring will suffice, but on other occasions, you’ll need to strike fast to respond quickly to urgent infringement cases, and that means having access to the right legal experts.
  • Automate where possible: From takedown requests to cease and desist letters, many of the common procedures for taking action against fake and infringing products or websites are well established. This allows us not only to shut down such activities rapidly or in bulk, but also to automate the process to reduce the demands on clients and their internal teams.
  • Be persistent: Even when you are successful pushing counterfeiters off the big platforms, the risk remains that they will reappear on smaller ones. If you are a small brand, engage with online platforms via organisations such as MARQUES or INTA, or if you’re a big brand, you may be able to engage directly. Some platforms have a ‘three strikes’ policy, but sometimes you may need law enforcement to step in. 
  • Make it a cornerstone of the business: Online brand protection needs to be part of the organisation, not confined to the legal department. Not only should the business itself be educated on the dangers and threats posed by counterfeits and phishing, but customers need to be educated too; we suggest solutions such as holograms or QR codes to help customers verify your brand. 
  • Sense check activities: Being too dependent on software or processes to tackle infringements can lead to backlash in the media and reputational damage, if you are seen to be too heavy in your approach. We review all infringement cases and moderate our letters to ensure that we are handling the case correctly and delicately, depending on the level and type of threat.
  • Be aware of upcoming industry regulations – For example, the EU’s Digital Services Act, which will affect the landscape for brand owners in the coming years. When this comes into effect, cautiousness and quality of takedown will be crucial, as although you will be able to remove more content automatically, it needs to be done accurately.  
If you could advise companies to do just one thing in this area, what would it be?

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