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Counterfeits on TikTok: IP enforcement best practices

  • 1 : TikTok revealed as a significant counterfeiting hotspot in exclusive guest post.

  • 2 : Insights include use of live streaming to promote sale of fakes on major retail days.

  • 3 : Rights holders urged to request TikTok owner ByteDance improve IP environment.


Last month, WTR identified Chinese social network TikTok as a brand protection risk that should be on the radars of rights holders. Now, in an exclusive article, digital brand consultant Steven Ustel from Ustels Ltd reveals the scale of counterfeiting on TikTok and its Chinese equivalent Douyin _ and recommends strategies that brand owners can implement to mitigate the risks on the platforms.

One of the key messages from our initial article was that, generally, brand protection service providers are paying little attention to TikTok. During the INTA Annual Meeting, WTR reached out to a number of IP service vendors to see if they are monitoring it. The results were startling. At least two representatives from IP monitoring firms were not even aware of TikTok (with one bluntly saying, Ive never even heard of it), and others claimed that their clients have never asked about it.

With that in mind, Ustel has penned an article to highlight some of the significant issues he has personally witnessed on TikTok, especially in regard to counterfeiting, and what tools brand owners have at their disposal to monitor and take down such activity.

Guest analysis:
TikTok has fast become the killer app dominating the screen time of Gen Z. This user-generated short form mobile video app is reportedly valued at $75 billion, with over 800 million combined downloads from Google Play and the Apple App Store and over 600 million monthly active users in China alone. In fact, TikTok is so popular in China that the government forced parent company ByteDance to introduce usage limits, restricting Gen Zers dose of dancing, lip syncing and prank clips to only 40 mins per day.

The rapid growth of TikTok raises an immediate question for brand owners: how has the app slipped under the radar of IP service vendors?

There are two main reasons causing the lack of awareness about the app. The first is because parent company ByteDance is viewed as a media company and is not involved in the business of e-commerce. Therefore, TikTok has been developed with a content-first strategy, building a large user-base through a deep understanding of how users want to express and interact. With the short video format and easy-to-use editing tools, anyone with a smartphone can become a content creator. As with most social platforms, the challenge is to monetise this captured user-base. The obvious answer is to follow the Facebook model and run ads, however, ByteDance has also been moving towards integrating e-commerce into the app. As the digital economy becomes more mobile-led, the line between content and e-commerce companies is increasingly vanishing.

Courtesy: Counterfeits on TikTok:

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